When you were in high school, you may not have known what you wanted to do with your life. While you may have felt you were the only one sitting in senior seminar clueless about your future plans, chances are you weren’t alone. Even for those who went off to college certain that they knew what they wanted to do with their lives, chances are they’ll probably join the other 80 percent of college students who change their major at least once before graduating.
Before you start to consider your lack of direction a failure, give yourself a break. If you’re like many young adults who just want to get their life started and earn a good living, there’s good news for you. Emphasis on getting a college degree in order to be successful has declined in recent years.
In fact, these days people are starting to realize that there are many different paths you can take if you want to be successful, and that not all of those paths require extensive schooling. Sure, if you want to be a brain surgeon, you should be prepared to spend a significant amount of time in college. However, there are many careers that don’t require you to spend the next four to six years locked away in a dorm room with a bad roommate living on ramen and meal plans. There are quite a few jobs that pay a decent salary you may want to consider.
Where to Start
Decide what interests you. Are you good with your hands and mathematical equations? Do you enjoy working with computers or are you a people person who thrives on in-person interaction? Maybe you want to make a difference in someone’s life and help others. Chances are that no matter what interests you, you can find a career with your specific interests in mind.
Skilled Labor Jobs
The demand for skilled labor jobs is at 10-year high right now, which means if you enter the field of construction, mechanics, plumbing, or HVAC technology you will enter a market of endless career opportunities.
Pros and Cons
There are pros and cons when it comes to working in the skilled labor field. One of the pros is that if you enjoy working with your hands and using critical and analytical skills, you’ll find your work rewarding because you’ll be able to see the results of your hard work. Some feel that the work can be taxing or even dangerous at times, which can be a con for those working in a skilled labor position. However, that also means that these jobs may pay more to compensate for the working conditions.
Other Professional Jobs
If skilled labor isn’t for you, there are other jobs to consider that don’t require extensive schooling. If you enjoy working with computers, you may want to consider working as a computer programmer or web developer. If you want to travel to new places and enjoy driving, jobs requiring a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, pay a lucrative salary and are always in demand and would give you the opportunity to see new places on company time. If you’re more service-oriented, then a career in healthcare may be a suitable option. Dental hygienists, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses are always in demand, require minimal schooling, and can pay very lucrative salaries due to the nature of the work.
Pros and Cons
As with any career path, there are pros and cons to each type of job. While computer programming and web developer positions are an excellent field to get into, due to advances in technology, automation may make those jobs obsolete down the road. Sitting for extended periods of time while driving with your CDL can cause fatigue and health problems, and nursing careers, while rewarding, can be physically and emotionally draining.
Success Doesn’t Start and End with College
While you may have often heard that college is synonymous with success, that thought is simply not true. There have been many successful people who’ve made something of themselves without a college degree, and you can too. You can make a good living for yourself by figuring out what type of careers are in demand in your area, assessing your interests and forging a career for yourself. Skipping college when you don’t know what you want to do will not only save you time you’d otherwise waste in classes you don’t enjoy, but will save you tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. That’s a smart decision that you surely won’t regret when you’ve got a steady career under your belt and your friends are still cramming for final exams and living in crowded dorm rooms in their mid-twenties.