Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Ask HN: Non-technical jobs for an average person without a college degree?
10 points by Onixelen on Oct 4, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 9 comments
What kinds of non-technical jobs can your average person without a college degree get in the US to still make it into the middle class?

Let's remember that the vast majority of jobs are non-technical and held by people without college degrees. Most of the middle class don't have college degrees, and of course very few have technical jobs.[0]

My point is that the range of possibilities is immense. Nobody could possibly answer your question, especially without knowing more about you. Here's some general advice from a stranger on the Internet:

1) Self-knowledge is most important, IMHO, to career choice. Learn what you care about, what inspires you, what you like and don't like, what your strengths and weaknesses are, etc. Most people have a poor understanding of these things.

2) Based on that, embark on a career in something you love and which suits you well. It will take plenty of time and effort to get traction and build 'career capital';[1] it will seem impossible to get your foot in the door, but be patient and persistent and use the time to acquire skills and contacts - you will be very busy later. You might as well invest that effort in something you love. That way, later, when a contact calls you with a business idea or you come across some great opportunity, it will be to do what you love instead of something you merely endure.

3) No matter what you do, some people will tell you it's wrong. You can't please everyone, and they really don't know you the way you do (see #1). Ignore most advice (especially from strangers on the Internet).


[0] A quick search of formal education levels didn't find anything but I did find that only 40% of middle-class students who start college get a degree, so the number with degrees is very likely lower. http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/25/news/economy/middle-class-ki...

[1] https://80000hours.org/career-guide/career-capital/ - this whole website seems pretty good.

Skilled trades like plumber come to mind. There are millionaire plumbers. Car dealerships and real estate/ property management are also paths to success for many. Many jobs require some certification or education, but it's less than a college degree. http://profoundlydisconnected.com/

Middle class isn't about where you are employed, it's about you employing yourself eg. You're not dependent on someone else for money.

edit: although you are dependent on customers. But the recent /r/dataisbeautfiul post said that if you're employed, you're not middle class. Middle class is like a company owner.

I shall find the link.

Hurr tis


Saw this somewhere on Reddit.

Factory work sucks, but I see people who put in the years and get to 50K, but fuck factory work. Unless you do something cool. In my instance cutting meat (doing the same thing, 6,300 times in a day)

> Hurr tis

This was my favorite part.

Sometimes, brilliance is like a piece of corn in a pile of crap.

A lot of jobs can lead to being middle class if you a) sticjpk with them/get good and b) manage your personal finances well.

Some janitor left millions to charity. He was frugal and was good at investing in stocks.

I have read that the 5% of people who have financial goals outperform the 95% without them -- combined.

I have also read that people who folow their interests typically have more career success. People who like what they are doing tend to do it well, for a variety of reasons.

I suggest you figure out what you enjoy doing and try to find a job that is a good fit for that to the best of your ability. Also, learn to budget, stay healthy, use birth control consistently. Health issues and unplanned children seriously derail personal budgets.


If by non-technical you mean non-IT, then... the majority of jobs? :-)

Plumber, electrician, mechanic, more or less specialized repairman, construction, plant operator, retail. Many of these can pay well as long as you gain experience and are willing to put in the hours. On the less "sweaty" side, many marketing and creative jobs (photography, videomaking, design, etc).

Since you'll have to spend a lifetime at it, what is it that you actually enjoy doing?

I was interested in IT the most but I wanted to keep my options open with non-IT, like a desk job. A job in marketing, human resources, recruitment...could work but I think you need a college degree for those.

UX designer or researcher, product manager, visual designer, graphic designer, QA engineer

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact