Times are more challenging nowadays, and this goes for people of all backgrounds and educational attainments. I am a university graduate myself, and I still cling to my current gigs because the pickings are still relatively slim. Two of my brothers dropped out of college years ago, given that the careers they truly wanted to pursue had nothing to do with a bachelor's degree (their only regret is that they should have realized it way sooner), and for them the market for jobs is no less competitive.
You know what's funny? The aforementioned brothers of mine are actually making a decent living, and all things considered, they actually make a slightly larger chunk of change than I do, even when considering that I have a regular day job and some side gigs online. I'm okay with that, since I don't have as many mouths to feed (just me and my cat Mr. Frumplebuns). My brothers weren’t as responsible and progressive as they are now, however. They did wander a bit and take their time getting to where they are now.
That's why I am writing about this topic, because somewhere out there, some high school graduates or college dropouts might think that they'll never make a decent living. I'm going to suggest three possible industries for you to work in and get good at, and it won't matter as much if you didn’t have a college degree.
Our civilization never stops building, wearing down, and inevitably destroying infrastructure, so being in this industry is a rather safe bet if you want to stay employed for a long time. Heavy machine operators, drivers, technicians, and mechanics will always find work, and though this line of livelihood will always have a physical labor component, the compensation is well worth it.
Don't think you'll get away with just a high school diploma if you want to get ahead in the construction industry, however. You still have to get some certifications and training so you'll be able to operate progressively larger and more complex machines. Being certified will definitely increase your value as a worker, so it's worth the effort to do so.
We build so many roads and bridges so that we can take our goods and services all over the country. This won't be possible without a workforce of drivers and the technical crews that keep the vehicles in shape to travel those distances. Being a trucker is still a decent living, and it gets especially lucrative (and dangerous) if you ply the more remote and treacherous routes.
While it is perfectly fine to drive trucks owned by a company, there are those who go entrepreneurial and work their way to owning their own rigs, and that's something a transportation professional could work towards, eventually having their own fleets and hiring others to drive them.
While land-based transportation keeps the country running internally, trade and commerce with the rest of the world wouldn't be possible without able-bodied and able-minded people keeping our seagoing vessels operating. The shipping industry employs millions of people all over the world and transports a near-innumerable amount of people and goods. Our conception of the modern world wouldn't hold if the shipping industry were to suddenly collapse.
From the humble seaman to the iconic captain, there are many employment opportunities for a healthy individual, provided that person is willing to start at the bottom. Further training and certification will open new opportunities for the aspiring mariner, as with the previous industries mentioned.
May you find your way and realize what you want to do with your life. Onward!
Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California, and aspires to have her own construction firm with her brothers, which explains her frequent visits to online heavy equipment marketplace Rock&Dirt. Stacey and her friends have a blog, Word Baristas.