While this might come as a surprise, more than one quarter of the Top 20 “great jobs” you can nail without a college degree are in the tech sector; so why, then, are computer engineers, programmers and journalists slaving away in college labs and incurring astronomical debt?
In a new report produced by CarrerCast.com, positions ranging from a dental hygienist to an online advertising manager to a Web developer to an industrial machine repairer made the list of top 20 jobs you can nab sans diploma. And if it’s really true that you can earn $87,000 on average as an online advertising manger – without having to sit through stuffy college lectures about branding and keyword ad placement – then why fork over the almost $120,000 it costs to earn that advertising marketing degree when research is showing you have a great chance of landing that job anyways?
Because unless you are the Steve Jobs’s or Mark Zuckerberg’s of the world, you may have a hard time proving your worth with no education to back it.
Interestingly enough, I was out to dinner with a few friends the other night and this very topic about whether college is paramount for success came up. In the interest of full disclose, I should note that one of my friends who was part of the discussion is a teacher and I am the daughter of a teacher. Here was a point that was argued.
Following high school graduation, if an 18-year-old can get offered an incredible starting job at a software development company he has lusted after for the better part of his life without ever stepping into an Organization of Programming Languages class, who is to say he shouldn’t go for it? Especially, if he can manage to make $30,000 a year as a starting salary. You do the math; in the four years it takes his friends to graduate, he has already earned what it costs most college kids to finish school.
Here’s the problem: At a certain point that individual will most likely hit a cross roads, when either his lack of education keeps him from becoming truly credible or when his lack of education handicaps his potential earnings. Don’t believe me? Then consider the following.
The average American worker with a four-year degree will make approximately $1 million more during his or her career, according to CareerCast.com. Moreover, Bureau of Labor Statistics data demonstrates that the average starting salary for someone with a college degree is $51,000, while a job for which no degree is required starts out at about $28,350.
So, do you take the college route and hope that huge upfront investment will pay off? Or do you dive right into the entrepreneurial swimming pool and trust that street/people smarts is more important than book smarts.
I honestly think it’s up the individual. For some, attending college right after high school means “guessing” at which major will give you success and opting for that path; it has little to do with actual interest or passions. Perhaps for these kids, a dose of the real world might be the better route first. Let these teens experience internships, abroad opportunities and apprenticeships to see where their strengths lie, with the intention of going back to college soon.
And for others, college may simply never be the right route to take. Just look at Mark Zuckerberg who created a billion dollar empire.
My advice is simple: take the route that will ultimately help you reach your dreams, keeping in mind that a college education has been, and always will be, paramount in today’s economy. It is never too late to go back to school and the team-oriented, challenging environment will prepare you for the real world in ways you can never imagine.
Give college, in some fashion, a chance at some point if you can; the road to learning is long and should never end.