Question for people that are successful and have no college degrees.

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by jc0481, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. jc0481 macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2005
    Here I am 31 years old married and my wife works at a child care center. We both work full time. I work at a warehouse job pulling orders, packing and receiving. I have been there a little bit over two years. It's a dead end job though. No room to grow.
    I just wanted to know how do you people do it? I'm talking about the people that have $50,000-$100,000+ annual salaries with no degrees. Did you start your own company, got some extra training or sheer luck?
    I mean when I can get paid $12.00 an hour I'll be happy. Right now things are tight because of all the medical bills we are paying. I will be looking for a second job. At the same time I will be looking for a full time job as well.
    If you can give any advice to myself and others here on Reddit would appreciate it. I just want a better life for my wife and future kids. I would love to have my wife stay home with our future kids but right now it's not a possibility.
    I just wanted to let you know that I will be enrolling in my local community college in August. Then heading to my state university for my Bachelor's. I'm excited for that. With any new information I can learn here plus with my degree in the next few years I can provide stability and financial peace for my future family.
    I always tell people. If I'm ever successful I will NEVER be one of those guys that spends thousands of dollars on luxury cars, toys or anything else i don't need. I would want to donate to charity.
    I was driving home from work and saw a single mother with her I think 4 year old and pushing her stroller with a baby in it. If I had the money I would have pulled over and given her whatever cash I had on me. I would have loved to seen her reaction.
  2. leekohler, Jun 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012

    leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    I see nothing in your post that says what you want to do for a living. That is the most important question to answer. Just getting a degree won't do much for you if you're not passionate about your occupation.

    You seem to think a degree is your answer, it's not necessarily. What will make you successful is passion for what you do.

    Answer that question, and you will know your path.
  3. jackc macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2003
    That's a nice cliche, but many people are not passionate about their occupation.

    If your goal is to make $12 an hour, it really shouldn't be that hard if you're not getting drunk on the job. I don't have any specific advice for you, lots of job listings out there, so take this for what it's worth: zero.
  4. leekohler, Jun 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012

    leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    If people are not passionate about their occupation, they should do something else. I have been in advertising as an art director for 13 years with no degree. I have done just fine. People who do things they don't care about should find what they do like. It's not a cliche, it's the truth. Steve Jobs had no degree.

    Now, if the OP wants to be a doctor, etc., then he has to follow a certain path to degrees. But we still have no idea what he wants to do.
  5. eric/ Guest


    Sep 19, 2011
    Ohio, United States
    Well, don't go to a university for a degree unless it's going to further your career. The debt isn't worth it otherwise.
  6. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    Yes, that particular brass ring is being oversold.

    Get into an apprentice program after HS, in a specialty that you already like.

    As for the OP's questions, I meet the criteria, or rather I did before retirement.

    I just started at the very bottom, as a file clerk at an insurance company, and learned/earned my way up the ladder.

    This is extremely difficult to do today.
  7. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    Check out the Research Animal Technician field. No degree required and plenty of opportunity to advance through AALAS certifications. Almost every research center will pay all costs associated with getting your various AALAS certifications.

    Where I use to work, they started everyone out at $12.00 an hour and I usually had 10+ hours of overtime a week where I made time and a half. My former manager came up as a Tech with just a high school diploma and makes about $60k.
  8. Huntn macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    I disagree. If not passionate at least being highly interested your line of work makes a huge difference in the amount of energy you are willing to expend to support your interest and to your overall outlook on life.

    As far as entrepreneurship, my impression is that it IS POSSIBLE, but there are lots of pitfalls along the way which bring people's dreams crashing down. I see small retail establishments as highly risky. Just visit the mall and gaze upon the empty store fronts of what used to be. If you could buy into the next McDonalds or Starbucks, you could be come rich. If you can imagine a unique service or mechanical innovation there is potential but by no means a guaranteed success. And for every success there are thousands (millions?) of failures.
  9. rick snagwell macrumors 68040

    rick snagwell

    Feb 12, 2011
    oceanside, ca
  10. mobilehaathi macrumors G3


    Aug 19, 2008
    The Anthropocene
    Echoing what lee has to say: find your passion. I'd say it is better to be happy and making a bit less than miserable and making more.

    Of course that's easy to say but not always obvious to accomplish. One has to pay bills and feed mouths. Still, it is something to think about carefully.

    OP, can you expand on what your interests might be?
  11. hafr macrumors 68030

    Sep 21, 2011
    Those I know that fit your description have most often just been hard workers. Started out in a low position such as salesman and then climbed step by step. So maybe look for large companies where low- and high paying jobs are in the same offices and make sure your bosses (and their bosses) know you want to climb in the ranks?


    I know a guy that is so uninterested in gems it's not even funny, but he studied gemology for four (five?) years and is currently trading diamonds because of two reasons: he gets to travel a lot and he makes **** loads of money.

    So I'd say you don't have to be passionate about what you're doing, just have a really good incentive if you're not :)
  12. jc0481 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2005

    Well my interests vary. In no particular order I do like technology, mathematics, law.

    Which brings me to another question. How did everyone find out what their passions are? I still haven't pinpointed on what my passions are.

    I am going to enroll in my local community college in August for an Associate of Science degree in Mathematics. My next step is get my Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from my state university. After doing research I understand that having a Mathematics degree opens many doors for you.

    It makes sense to do what you love and not really call it a job. That would be much better than making big bucks doing a job you absolutely hate. But at the same time I want my wife to stay home with our future kids and I can bring in some good money. By the way I meant to say about the $12 an hour. I want to make $12 and above in a job.

    You see I have been working in warehouse or general labor for most of my adult life. I've noticed from working these jobs it's very hard from a blue collar job to white collar job. Also the pay is not that great. I just want to work my way up in a company. Although being an Introvert does not help my job dilemma.

    I would not mind being a file clerk at an insurance company like John Henry did.

    @Nathan I would look into that Animal Technician field. I hope there are some jobs for that here in Utah.
  13. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    *checks url*


    Seems like copypasta - can we wasteland this?
  14. 7254278 macrumors 68020

    Apr 11, 2004
    Sales pays well. I make about 100k and I work retail. . . Then again I also live in NYC where 100k might as well be 40k anywhere else. . .
  15. Plutonius macrumors 604


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire, USA
    I may be wrong but, it seems like it might be harder starting off now and being successful without a college degree (still possible but much harder).

    I would look into fields like plumbing or electrician.
  16. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030


    May 18, 2004
    $12 an hour is "good" ? :eek:

    that's barely above barista pay in lots of places
  17. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium


    Jan 28, 2009
    Quebec, Canada
    Education is not about careers or trades. You go to college to broaden your mind and horizons, not to learn a trade to make a career out of.

    That's the problem with modern folk, they want trade schools, not colleges. People don't care about culture, intellectual pursuit or ideas anymore. They care about skills to make money.

    A sad state of affairs.
  18. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    Culture doesn't pay the bills. You need a job that pays.
  19. eric/ Guest


    Sep 19, 2011
    Ohio, United States
    I don't disagree really, but it's not an economically good decision.
  20. Kendo, Jun 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012

    Kendo macrumors 68000

    Apr 4, 2011
    OP, I don't know if I would consider myself successful but I am in my early thirties, work for a reputable investment bank making around 75K+ a year, and also don't have a degree. I agree that finding your passion is important, but paying the bills and providing for your family should take priority for the time being. Once you have a secure and well paying job, you are then in the position of having money in the bank, being able to afford to take pleasure in your hobbies, and if needed, being able to afford to take a chance on going for that job that you are passionate about.

    I was always a good student in high school but college didn't interest me so I dropped out after a year. I used to think that a degree wasn't needed and that once I got in a company, I would be able to learn all the things I needed on the job. What I didn't realize back then, and realize now is how lucky I was to land a job in a corporate environment without a degree. These days a person wouldn't even bypass an online application as soon as they ask if you have a degree.

    I grew up in the era when the Internet and chat rooms exploded which allowed me to type 75+ words per minute. These days every teen who texts can do it, but 10 years ago, typing that fast was considered a desirable skill. That allowed me to get my first job doing data entry work for a non-profit organization that helped low income families with financing. That bit of financial exposure got me a temp job at a top 25 bank in NYC and since I ended up doing well, they hired me full time. Fast forward a few years later and I was able to move on to a top 10 investment bank (my current job). The hardest part about getting this job is that I ran into the problem of not being able to get through the initial application screening but due to my work experience, a headhunter was able to get my resume in front of a hiring manager (bypassing HR) and I did well on the interview so they hired me. Luckily they seemed to only care about my work experience and not my lack of degree but in the future if I ever move on to another company, I will face this challenge again.

    Since I am now making a decent income, I can afford to go back to college without going into tremendous debt and I plan on going back to complete my degree. I can tell you right now the degree is vital. I had trouble getting my new job without a degree and this is coming from a person with nearly a decade of finance experience. Unfortunately it is just a necessity no matter how smart you are. Even if you are the greatest driver in the world and can get someone at a destination twice as fast as anyone else, you still can't get the job without a driver's license. See what I mean?

    Passion is very important and right now I am trying to figure what I want to do. But I can afford to take that chance because I have steady income. I can easily afford a Retina MacBook Pro, buy a programming book, and take a two week paid vacation from work so I can teach myself how to program and pursue my dream of developing for the iPhone. But I am in that position because of my current boring job.

    I guess what I am trying to say is, getting your college degree and getting a job in a corporate environment might sound boring, but it is the easiest way to surviving and making a living for the average person. Unless you are blessed with culinary talents or some other skill like programming, the easiest way to money is going for a degree and going for a corporate job, or going for a trade such as plumbing. BTW, I wouldn't call your current job dead end. At least it allows you to pay the bills while you can figure out how to make more money.
  21. ChrisTX macrumors 68030


    Dec 30, 2009
    You must really ask yourself what YOU want to do with your life. No one can decide that for you. I got lucky, and found a career I didn't at first love but turned into something I could never quit. Be realistic, and honest with yourself, dig deep, and you'll find the answer might be an obvious one. Work hard, and never give up, and the sky's the limit. Best of luck to you sir!
  22. senseless macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2008
    Pennsylvania, USA
    The best way to be very successful without a degree is operating your own small business. The downside is it's very risky and requires all your money and attention. If you have a family to support, it's tough to go out and risk everything in a poor economy. I feel for you as it seems that your goals are reasonable. I think you will be able to attain them.
  23. 'Bmac macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2011
    City of Bon Jovi, New Jersey, USA
    Without a university degree, you need to be in the right place at the right time and to have the people around you like you and more importantly respect you. Everyone who is doing really well without the Uni degree has trust worthy people around helping them in even the most tiny way. It might so small as in the people do NOT even know they are helping you because what they are doing is so small and not noticeable but they are helping you move forward. Oh for sure you DO HAVE to know exactly what you are doing, but the people around you in the company MUST like AND respect you and ABOVE all, YOU must be in the right place at the right time to be a sucess.

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