Ask Erin – Can you make good money without college?

Dear Erin, How could I make good money without going to college? Thanks, Worried Student


Dear Worried Student,


A common perception is that a college degree is required to make good money in life, however, there are careers one can pursue to make good money with only a high school diploma. The average salary of recent college graduates was $52,0000 in 2021, while the wages for high school graduates were $30,000. However, there are some jobs that can pay up to double if not more than that amount. Manual labor jobs such as construction workers can make up to $49,000 a year, a union elevator mechanic can make up to $99,000 a year, and a tree climber can make up to $70,000 annually.  That doesn’t mean that college won’t help though, as having a bachelor’s degree will look better on a resumé, as well as business, finance, or a healthcare job require the need for a bachelor’s. 

There are other ways to make money as well, such as starting a small business and selling things on apps such as Etsy, Instagram on the marketplace, or eBay. Being a dogsitter, doing cleaning services, or being a handyman can also be a good way to produce money on the side, as well as getting work experience for a career that may interest you in the future. However, these side jobs should not be a primary source of income, as it would be smart to be employed somewhere. There are also some more positives that come from not going to college. One such advantage is the ability to avoid student debt, which averaged around $30,000 in 2021. It takes the average student 20 years to pay off all of their debt, which can make relatively normal purchases seem much more substantial. Mental health can also benefit from not going to college, as the break from school can help one feel a lot more relaxed.

While going to college does have its benefits, so do non-traditional routes. Whether you do or don’t go to college does not automatically equal success, but what truly matters is what you are able to do with what time and resources you are given and what you choose to explore with your liberties.