What is a Good Job?
Growing up, my parents raised me to believe in hard work. They never gave the impression that one profession was better than another and made it clear that they would be proud of me no matter the industry in which I worked. There are a few examples of this accepting and encouraging spirit that have stuck with me to this day:
1. The gratitude of my mother:
I recall my mother speaking to a gentleman at a hardware store. Although I do not remember what they were talking about, I remember the man's awkward and preemptive apology,
"Sorry if I smell, I just got off work. I work at the water treatment plant..."
He paused, expecting an unpleasant response.
My mother, smiled and responded kindly,
"Thank you! I appreciate being able to drink clean water!"
The smile he gave showed he was not used to being appreciated or noticed for the important work he did.
2. The support of my father:
As the son of a pastor, there is an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) expectation to follow in the footsteps of your father. Many pastors expect it of their sons and often times people outside the family assume the same outcome. My father, however, told me a variation of the same line over and over throughout my childhood,
"I do not expect you to become a pastor. Do what you are lead to do. If you are lead to ministry, great! If you are lead to serve as a garbageman and keep the city clean, great! I will always be proud of you."
I have been blessed to have parents who do not teach that one person is inherently better than another. Unfortunately, today's society has an undertone that teaches another idea. We as a community worship the wealthy. We idolize famous musicians, lawyers, and doctors. Don't get me wrong, I think talented people and people who have worked hard to advance to high level careers are deserving of respect--I just think the school custodian is also deserving of respect. She may not make as much as a doctor, but as long as she is taking care of her family and contributing to society, she deserves respect.
Now, the reason for writing this post is to clear up a misconception that seems to be ingrained in the majority of the country: Your worth is based on your income and you can't make a decent living without first diving head first into student loan debt.
I understand, getting a law degree or completing med. school without debt is almost unheard of and if that is your dream, you have a hard road ahead. But, if you are simply looking for a respectable job that will feed you and possibly a family as well as provide some extra money to live life to the fullest, there are plenty of options!
Unique Individuals Require Unique Education Paths!
I want to keep this post light so I will not be delving into specific numbers or names of companies but I want to assure you, you can get a worthwhile career job without being saddled with a pile of debt. If a college degree is right for you, get an affordable (and relevant) degree from a local state university. You do not need to go across state lines to "experience college life." Doing so can more than double tuition costs as well as add living expenses on to your bill. If you are set on leaving home, look for schools that have reciprocity with your home state. Some schools will offer in-state (or heavily discounted) tuition to residents of certain other states. Likewise, some state programs offer free community college to their residents and certain schools offer free tuition to specific people groups!
Tip: Keep it cheap. Stay in state. For most people, going to a cost-effective state school will not hinder your chances at landing a job. Do your due diligence; find a school that has a good reputation and a strong program in the field you are seeking.
For many, going to a Trade school (also known as a tech. school or technical college) is also a viable option that can lower tuition costs and expedite the commencement of your successful career. Through a trade school, you can become a welder, automotive technician, HVAC technician, chef, or makeup artist, and that is just a small sample.
Many of these careers can lead to healthy paychecks while keeping you physically and mentally active throughout your workday.
Now, you can enter a trade by getting paid on-the-job training through a company in lieu of a degree from a trade school. Yes, many companies will actually pay you to learn a trade. You can work for the company during the week and attend their classroom training on Saturdays. You will be paid during your training and receive a substantial raise after your training has been finished. Alternatively, it is also common for companies to pay for your traditional trade school tuition in exchange for an agreement to work for the company for a length of time--this is common in the automotive industry. The image below shows a related post and the response I gave based on my personal experience:
Contrary to popular belief, there is another option still: no degree.
I know this is not a popular opinion but not everyone needs or will benefit from a college level education. The paid on-the-job training to enter a trade is a perfect example of this. The elevator mechanics I mentioned earlier made over $100,000 annually plus union benefits in an area with a low cost of living! Many entrepreneurs have only a high school education and have managed to thrive!
I firmly believe that most people should go to college in order to become qualified for career level work but it is not a requirement for everyone and not every degree is created equal.
I highly recommend researching the field you want to enter and finding the requirements to enter. A degree is required for many fields but in some, they are nothing more than a "fun" experience.
A good example of this idea is computer programming and cyber security. In this industry, your college education does not matter. Certain certificates will help get you an interview and land a job but it is an industry based around what you can actually do. It is an industry that requires continual self-education and improvement. I have spoken to several members of the industry and they have repeated the same idea. "Certificates, not degrees, get you the job. Self-improvement gets you the promotions."
Keep your mind open and do what is best for YOU!
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