College is like a shaky bridge spanning a black abyss. It’s not easy to cross- the bridge is rickety and old and everyone wants to be the first one off so that they can start to move towards fulfilling and profitable careers. Some may choose not to cross the bridge, others fall off on their way to the other side.
For the 41 percent of students who never graduate college, negative stigmas are plenty and prospects for success are few.
Or are they? It depends on how you define “success.”
This past January, CBS Moneywatch released a list of the top 10 highest paying jobs for dropouts.
First on that list is waste disposal personnel, with an average salary of $25 per hour and no need for anything other than a high school diploma. Your garbage man isn’t making a killing, but he has decent pay and high job security due to unions and practical leverage. If you want to see the effects of even a brief sanitation strike, take a look at a Buzzfeed article titled, “The Worst Garbage Strikes!”
Sommeliers, professional wine tasters that find the right bottle for your meal at a restaurant, can net anywhere from $28,000 to $160,000 per year depending on training and experience. Even if you don’t go to college, you still get to drink, and you get paid. Win-win.
If you’ve ever wanted to make money while making sure that the money that other people make is legit, Bingo Manager might be the job for you, with an average salary of $59,322. Not a high-roller exactly, but you only need to graduate high school.
If you’ve ever wanted managerial experience but don’t have a business degree, then perhaps Lodging Manager is the job for you, with an average salary of $55,810.
The responsibility of maintaining an enjoyable and relaxing environment for your guests would provide good work experience for any customer service job, help build your people skills and let you network for future employment.
If helping others relax and destress was something you’ve always wanted to do and you don’t mind getting physical with strangers, you can become a massage therapist with about 500 hours of training and make about $40,400 annually.
The next job on the list, insurance agent, makes around $63,610 with the minimum requirement of a high school diploma. Selling the right policy to your customer is the name of the game here. Without a college degree, social skills would be the deciding factor when selling the policies.
If you’re in the market for a more physical job, you would make an average of $40,980 per year operating heavy construction machinery. On the other hand, a mind for numbers might lead you to become a claims adjuster for an insurance company, making sure that the payouts that the company gives are accurate and fair.These employees make an average of $62,340 with no degree required for most entry-level positions.
Real estate brokers take advantage of both numeracy and charisma, using both to help clients find a place to live while making an average of $53,140.
The last entry on the list, telecom technician, would see you maintaining communications hardware and software in
a workplace. It tends to require some post-secondary education, but the average salary is $54,530 and the job skills are especially valuable in the modern job market.
So, you’re thinking maybe the prospects aren’t so bad for a dropout, but it’s good to remember that your prospects are almost certainly better if you stay in school.
Even if a job here is something that you’re interested in, remember that a degree gives you more mobility (and money) in the workplace and more leverage in an interview.
Regardless of your feelings on a degree, it’s almost certainly better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Except maybe if you’re a freshman with a major in Liberal Arts.