Dr. Al Lee. Ph.D, Director of Quantitative Analysis
Billionaire media mogul David Geffen went from high school graduate to talent agent assistant, talent agent, owner of two record companies (Asylum and Geffen Records), and later, to co-founding DreamWorks movie studio with fellow non-college attendee Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Steven Spielberg, who dropped out of college.
While Geffen, Katzenberg and Spielberg are exceptions, there are options for young people who choose to skip college.
One career choice would be working for United Parcel Post, UPS. If you enjoy driving, sitting and light lifting, UPS drivers' salaries are typically are $27.34 an hour, per the UPS Web site at pressroom.ups.com, which also states, "UPS drivers (and part-time employees) receive full health benefits including medical, dental and eye care."
If you would rather spend your days outside, instead of inside a college classroom, landscaping may be an option. Let's take a look at the average salary of a landscaper in South Carolina. A landscaping worker with 5-9 years of experience earns an average hourly wage of $11.75, with a high-end of $13.75. A landscaping supervisor with 5-9 years of experience earns an average hourly wage of $13.50, with the potential of taking home $22.00 per hour or more, as they take on a more management role.
According to npr.org, the average salary of a landscaper can go up quite a bit if you own your business. Landscaping entrepreneur Joe Lamacchia of Holliston, Mass., started by cutting grass with a mower immediately following high school. Today, he owns a landscaping and paving company that earns $2 million per year. Lamacchia says that some skilled workers (electricians or welders) can earn up to $70K a year with overtime.
Taking Joe Lamacchia's advice, a young person in Florida working as an electrician with 5-9 years of experience, will earn an average hourly wage of $17.50 per hour, with a potential of $21.75. If we go north and take a look at electrician jobs in Maine, we find that an electrician with 5-9 years under his belt earns an average hourly wage of $21.50, with a high-end of $26.25.
Of course, Joe is from Massachusetts, a state with a high cost of living to factor in; a higher cost of living typically equates to a higher salary range for a job. For an electrician with 5-9 years of experience in Massachusetts, the average hourly wage is $23.50, but one could earn up to $30.00 per hour, which would mean an electrician salary in the $60,000/year range, assuming full-time work and no overtime.
If that electrician had 10-19 years of experience, the average hourly wage is $27.00, up to $36.25 per hour, which would mean an electrician salary in the $70K per year range. Keep in mind, that's the high-end, and not the average.
Another job that Joe Lamacchia mentioned was welding. If we take a look at Wyoming welder jobs, what are the hourly wage rates or salaries? A welder in Wyoming with 1-4 years of experience earns an average hourly wage of $16.00, with a potential of $18.00. An acetylene welder in Wyoming with same amount of experience does a little better, with an average hourly wage of $16.75 and a high-end of $18.50.
Let's go back to Massachusetts, Joe's turf, and see how a welder fares there. With 1-4 years of experience, a welder in Mass. earns an average hourly wage of $16.50, with a high-end of $19.25. A welder with 10-19 years of experience in Massachusetts does much better, earning an hourly wage of $22.25 with the potential of $27.00. If you're willing to put in the years, and learn your trade well, pay does go up.
Matching your skills, interests, and salary desires is a solid bet to discovering the best suited job path when earning a college degree isn't part of the plan.
Dr. Al Lee, also known as Dr. Salary, is the Director of Quantitative Analysis at PayScale, Inc. He has over 20 years of experience in statistical analysis and holds a Ph.D. in Physics from Yale University.