Job Options for Non-Traditional Students

a man working on a machine

Although the common adage for many Americans was that to get a good job you needed a traditional four-year degree, that statement simply isn’t true anymore. Especially with the increasingly high cost of tuition at four-year schools, the amount of money you spend pursuing a degree in higher education could be better invested in yourself or other business pursuits. Add this to the fact that some people just don’t perform well in school, and you have more than enough reasons to think about alternatives to attending a traditional four-year college.

Going to trade schools or even getting a two-year associate’s degree can be just as helpful as getting a liberal arts education. Here are a few job options for non-traditional students that still pay well.

Manufacturing jobs offer a comfortable middle-class lifestyle.

Although they’re often maligned by younger generations as tedious, boring, or downright dirty, the manufacturing industry is a booming and necessary part of the United States economy. Many of the entry-level jobs don’t even require a degree and pay quite competitively compared to hourly rates in retail or the service industry. Even better, there are clear and well-defined paths to climb the corporate ladder, so the job outlook is quite positive in the field. If you’re looking for a job that doesn’t require schooling and values on-the-job experience instead, the manufacturing field is an excellent industry to target.

Trade schools get you into competitive fields.

While a four-year degree might not be the right fit, dozens of trade schools can give you a competitive edge in fields that offer great compensation. These sorts of trades, including automotive repair or becoming an electrician or plumber, even offer you the opportunity to work for yourself and set your hours. As an independent contractor, you also have the flexibility to adjust how many clients you take on so that you never feel overwhelmed. Automotive and diesel repair programs like the ones offered by New York Auto & Diesel Institute give you all the skills you need to become certified in a trade like automotive repair. From there, you can apply to a wide range of jobs, confident that you have the knowledge and certification necessary to perform your work well.

HVAC is another mechanical field worth pursuing.

Repair work is good work as consumers’ products are always breaking down. Even automotive mechanics and HVAC repairmen get phone calls from customers when things are working as designed since annual inspections are a common occurrence. Working in HVAC repair, it’s easy to get repeat clients since you’ll be visiting many of the same households each year. This is especially true in the Midwest and other climates where there are hot summers and cold winters since you’ll be called upon twice as often to service your client’s HVAC system. Best of all, an HVAC repairman makes about three times the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, making the HVAC field a lucrative option for non-traditional students.

Especially when money is a major motivator for attending college, it’s easy to see why some of the above options are just as appealing for non-traditional students. For example, many people who graduate with a four-year degree in communications may only make about $43,000 a year. Conversely, an electrician may make up to $54,000 a year starting, with similar industries like plumbing, construction, and automotive repair making more as well. When you factor in the amount of student debt facing the communications graduate, your average take-home pay decreases, too, since student loan payments and income taxes can take out a hefty portion of your paycheck. Thus, it makes sense to consider all of your options if you’re a non-traditional student interested in setting yourself up for financial success and economic stability.