Make us your home page

You can land a well-paying job without a college degree

Ever notice that most career advice is aimed at the college student or graduate? But let's face it, not everyone can or should get a four-year degree. I recently volunteered at a local job fair as a member of the Suncoast Human Resources Management Association, where we reviewed resumes for job seekers. I was struck by the number of people who felt their best shot was to go back to school to get a bachelor of science, bachelor of arts or even a master of business administration degree.

Truth is, there are many great well-paying jobs available that don't require a college diploma. Many employers are begging in areas such as the skilled trades, health care and food and hospitality industries. Note, however, that these jobs do require training beyond high school, many demand a license or certification, and some require an apprenticeship or on-the-job experience.

Numbers of people in our state, even with a four-year college degree, make between $38,000 and $50,000 a year (this may differ from one part of the state to another). Here is a list of some hot Florida careers that provide that income or better, don't require a four-year degree and will be around for years to come. Looking outside Florida? A quick search of the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and other resources will give you updated information for other states.


• Requires training beyond high school at a technical/vocation school or community college.

• Must take licensing exam and pass.

• Average income: $37,900 to $40,000 a year.

Respiratory therapist

• Must have a minimum of an associate of arts degree.

• Average pay nationally: $54,280 a year.


• Requires training beyond high school at a technical/vocational school or community college.

• Must be licensed and complete an apprentice program.

• Average income: $43,000 a year.

Heating, air-conditioning and refrigerator mechanic and installer

• Requires passing two exams and earning a license.

• Average income: $40,000 a year.

Sous shef

• Usually requires at least some culinary arts training in a college or vocational/tech school as well as hands-on experience.

• Average yearly pay: about $40,000 to $49,000 depending on duties and location.


•Requires graduation from an accredited American Bar Association-approved institution (many community colleges are on that list) and certification.

• Annual salary averages in the mid- to high $40,000s to high $50,000s depending on the location and your experience.

How to find these jobs

The best way is to get the word out and tell everyone you know. That includes family, relatives, teachers if you're still in school or former teachers if you've graduated. Once you've completed the necessary training and licensing, check out the websites listed below as resources and click on the job openings in your field. Use your social networking sites and spread the news to let people know you're looking for a job. If there are professional or trade associations in your field, join them and make contacts through the members.

Finally, follow your heart. As Confucius said, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."


Marie Stempinski is president and founder of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. She specializes in public relations, marketing, business development and employee motivation. She can be reached at or though her website:

You can land a well-paying job without a college degree 10/28/12 [Last modified: Sunday, October 28, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: Closing Iron Yard coding school hits area tech hard but leaders talk of options


    The coming shutdown this fall of the Iron Yard software coding school in downtown St. Petersburg — announced this month as part of a national closing of all 15 Iron Yard locations — remains a shocking event to a Tampa Bay technology community that dreams big of becoming a major player in the Southeast if not …

    In better days last fall, friends and family of graduates at The Iron Yard, based in the Station House in downtown St. Petersburg, applaud during "Demo Day" when grads of the coding school show off their skills. Despite the local success and strong job placement by the coding school, The Iron Yard is closing all of its 15 locations across the country this summer. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. U.S. economy gathers steam in second quarter


    WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy revved up this spring after a weak start to the year, fueled by strong consumer spending. But the growth spurt still fell short of the optimistic goals President Donald Trump hopes to achieve through tax cuts and regulatory relief.

    A government report released Friday showed economic output picked up in the second quarter. 
[Associated Press file photo]
  3. Founder of Tampa home sharing platform questions Airbnb, NAACP partnership


    TAMPA — A Tampa rival to Airbnb, which was launched because of discrimination complaints on the dominant home sharing platform, has concerns about the new partnership between Airbnb and NAACP announced this week.

    Rohan Gilkes poses for a portrait at his home and business headquarters in Tampa. 

Innclusive, a Tampa-based start-up, is a home-sharing platform that focuses on providing a positive traveling experience for minorities. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  4. Appointments at Port Tampa Bay and Tampa General Medical Group highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Port Tampa Bay announced that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. Sowell, a former member of the U.S.Marine Corps, will support internal, external and special projects, assist the executive team with management oversight and serve as a liaison on a variety of port …

    Port Tampa Bay announced this week that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. [Handout photo]
  5. Drones restrictions coming at Tampa Bay area airports


    Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, according to a press release.

    In this February 2017 file photo, a drone flies in Hanworth Park in west London. Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems,
[John Stillwell/PA via AP, File]