How to Make Six Figures Before Thirty

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    How to Make Six Figures Before Thirty

    1. Taylor Lee @ Engineer Cents

      April 3rd, 2015 at 8:08 am

      I never really considered the trades mostly because I’m a weakling nerd who’d probably need both hands to lift a wrench. That said, I certainly would encourage my children to pursue that sort of work professionally if that’s what they wanted to do. The only downside I could see is manual labor can be rough on the body, but I’m sure good training and a careful eye can help it (at least in some professions).

    2. Stefanie

      April 3rd, 2015 at 8:37 am

      Labor really runs the gamut in terms of physicality. The other thing to consider is that by the time you hit 30,you can already have had a career for over 10 years- at which point you could “graduate” to less physical and more managerial work.

    3. C@thesingledollar

      April 3rd, 2015 at 8:39 am

      So, I did go to college (not much debt — I left with $14K) and then for a while I was in the wardrobe union, where I basically did laundry care, was a dresser, sewing, ironing, on-set work, that kind of thing. While I was on that path I did sometimes regret going to college! I knew that if I’d started working at 18 I’d have been in a way better financial place. And yeah, I might have made six figures before 30, although wardrobe work pays less than Local 1 does. That said, after a few years I knew that I didn’t really want to do that work long-term; it was intellectually satisfying while I was learning how to do it (there’s a ton you have to know!) but once I’d been through most of the learning I could see that in five or ten years, I might be financially solvent, but I’d also likely be kind of bored. So, back to square 1 financially and career-wise with grad school…. But I became a huge supporter of the trades for kids that aren’t academically inclined — whenever I talk to a parent that’s worried about their kid and college I’m all “stop panicking and have them train to do something physical, it’ll be just fine.” (And lots of kids that are just not into reading and writing are plenty smart — they just want to use their intelligence to figure out how to build a whatever, or rewire a whatever, instead, and that’s both just fine, and pretty lucrative!)

    4. Stefanie

      April 3rd, 2015 at 9:20 am

      Nobody pays as well as Local 1, though wardrobe union beats out equity by a long shot 🙂

    5. Hannah

      April 3rd, 2015 at 8:44 am

      In my mind, any career that allows you to make a direct connection between the work you do and the value you add could become a lucrative skill set, but there’s one more thing that I think is important which is a person’s ability to translate their skills into a freelance or entrepreneurship context.

      For example, I expect to hit the low 6 figures around my 30th birthday if I maintain my career path in analytics, but at that point I’ll have pretty much reached the labor market cap (in my low cost of living area), and earning more will require me to start my own consulting firm or something. If I only wanted that income a little more, I feel like it could be mine.

    6. Stefanie

      April 3rd, 2015 at 9:06 am

      You make a great point about entrepreneurship vs. employment and earning potential caps. One of the things I love about the trades is that you can transition well to entrepreneurship, but if business management is not really your skill set, you can expand your earnings in other ways. For example, Mr. X uses his carpentry skills not to build houses but to work in theatre which is exceptionally lucrative.

    7. John @ Frugal Rules

      April 3rd, 2015 at 8:59 am

      Excellent post Stefanie! There are so many things that could be discussed on this and the sad fact is many don’t prize pursuing trades in our culture. Mr. X reminds me somewhat of a good family friend. He didn’t go to college as he knew he wanted to work with his hands. He is now a custom woodworker, specializing in cabinetry and the like and does very well for himself. He’s in his late 20s and doing far better than he would’ve if he chose the traditional route.
      My brother, on the other hand, is a tech ed teacher (he basically teaches woodworking & shop)- because he believes we need to return to teaching the trades and is in fear of losing his job because it’s a “non-essential” subject. To make matters worse, he’s a teacher in Kansas and their governor is throwing the state off the budgetary cliff and cutting education left & right. Talk about messed up priorities. 😉

    8. Stefanie

      April 3rd, 2015 at 9:08 am

      Your brother is doing good and important work- I wish it was valued as much as it should be. The good thing is, with a hard skill set like the trades, it seems to be easier to find employment in a pinch as there is always demand.

    9. Kayla

      April 3rd, 2015 at 9:38 am

      As I’ve grown older I’ve began to appreciate more trades, degree or not. Growing up I knew a lady that cleaned homes for a living, making a good sum of money. I can’t quite remember if she worked for herself or for a company, regardless though, one typically doesn’t think of ‘maids’, for lack of a better term, as wealthy. She was definitely making more than I am now though as a programmer!

    10. Stefanie

      April 3rd, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      Trades can open the door to very lucrative entrepreneurial endeavors.

    11. Gretchen

      April 3rd, 2015 at 9:40 am

      I believe you’re absolutely right, Stephanie! The bottom line is that you have to be happy at what you’re doing, regardless of what you’re making. There is nothing wrong with being a plumber, and I think far too many people put too much emphasis on college as the “be all to end all”

    12. Stefanie

      April 3rd, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      I don’t understand where the culture of looking down on trades came from. It really doesn’t serve us.

    13. Tim

      April 3rd, 2015 at 9:57 am

      Trade skills are AWESOME and fading with the younger generation… Learning to weld was a great skill I was taught as a kid just for fun… I went to college and love my job, but there are so many places where trades pay really well and are looked down upon… Welding, plumbing, electrician…

    14. Stefanie

      April 3rd, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      All of those trades are incredibly lucrative, not to mention, they’re just awesome skills to have in life 🙂

    15. Chelsea @ Broke Girl Gets Rich

      April 3rd, 2015 at 10:21 am

      I’ve been thinking along similar lines lately… but amongst the classes you’re encouraged to take in high school.

      The ‘smart’ or ‘university prep’ kids are usually pushed to take as many hard math and AP courses as they can possibly fit in. I did some of that, but to be totally honest with you, the one class that helps me the most in my career today – keyboarding (or learning to type quickly w/o looking at the keyboard) was seen as a ‘slacker’ class… that may or may not have been the reason I took it, but I’m certainly glad I did.

    16. Stefanie

      April 3rd, 2015 at 2:26 pm

      I always wish I had taken more classes like that, teaching practical skill sets- but I got caught up in all the AP stuff. While I think AP classes are valuable in some respects, I don’t know how practical they are in my day to day life.

    17. Anum @Current on Currency

      April 3rd, 2015 at 10:36 am

      I remember having a similar discussion with some of my friends back when we were in college, and when one friend said he wanted to be a welder after he graduated, everyone freaked out and asked him to reconsider. I feel like younger generations are always ready to dismiss trade professions, but some of them really do pay well and pose less competition (aka less stress).

    18. Stefanie

      April 3rd, 2015 at 2:29 pm

      I wonder where this major misconception of the trades came from.

    19. femmefrugality

      April 4th, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      I’d guess the misconception comes from the tracking system we set up starting in the 50s-ish. The smart kids went to college. The not quite as smart kids went to trade school, and their education was built around that from the time they got out of middle schools at least. There’s mad money in these fields, though for sure. Around here it can be tough to get these jobs, though. You have to break into the union first. I know particularly for welding. It’s good money when there’s work, but if you’re not able to get a union contract that money dries up for you and you have a crazy variable income that ends up not being sustainable. Once you get into the union you’re pretty set, though. Pittsburgh is pretty huge on unions, so I’m not sure that it’s the same everywhere.

    20. Petrish @ Debt Free Martini

      April 3rd, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      One of my ex-boyfriends was offered a school for nuclear welding in the military and he just didn’t want to do it. We got in a huge argument because I thought he was nuts to turn down free training. At the end of the fight he did agree to go and ended up loving what he learned at the school. I remember there were times when he was called away to complete projects because his skill was in great demand. He is making so much money in the civilian world now. I’m sure he’s glad I talked him into taking the school.

    21. Stefanie

      April 3rd, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      He should give you a commission 🙂

    22. Brian @ Debt Discipline

      April 3rd, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      I have a friend who works for a local utility company and began there right after high school. He’s pulling down a six figure income and plus over time. He has no on call stress, taking the job home stress, he goes in does the job and leaves it there. Not many professional pull down six figures can say that.

    23. Stefanie

      April 3rd, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      Indeed. You bring up another major point which is quality of life. Trade workers generally don’t have to put in ridiculously long hours to enjoy big paychecks.

    24. Mel

      April 3rd, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      My dad is a carpenter and money has very rarely been an issue in our home. My brother has even worked for him all through college and isn’t sure now whether he’s just going to keep working for him or try to actually use his degree.

    25. Stefanie

      April 3rd, 2015 at 2:30 pm

      The good thing about carpentry is how universally needed it is. You can build houses or you can work a Broadway show 🙂

    26. diane @smartmoneysimplelife

      April 3rd, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      There is a similar mindset here in Australia: everyone *should* go to university. There’s a lot of pressure on kids to go to university whether they want to or are capable of making the most of it or not. Unfortunately, no one seems to be winning in this situation. Uni degrees are not as intellectually vigorous as they once were and have become career commodities rather than education. Plus, trade apprenticeships are becoming increasingly scarce.

      Good carpenters are hard to find and cost a fortune here. As an example, when I was working as a professional technical writer for a software development company, I had to pay the carpenter working on my renovations 1.5 times my hourly rate. Most people at my level had degrees and 10 years experience, the carpenter was about 25!

      Pity I can’t hammer a nail in straight or I’d be learning a trade – even though I’m now on the shady side of 50!

    27. Reelika @Financially Wise On Heels

      April 3rd, 2015 at 5:21 pm

      Good and so true! A wise man once told me that if you go to college and graduate, you are going to work to make someone else rich, but if you become an entrepreneur, you are making yourself wealthy.
      Well, the truth is, I have two bachelor’s degrees and with honors, and I am not making six figures. Not sure if I ever will. Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been if I had started working at early years in college or not gone to college at all. However, I am now pursuing my entrepreneurial career (part-time) as I still have full-time job as well. No matter what you do as entrepreneur, it can be extremely satisfying career!

    28. Elaine

      April 4th, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      Great post, thanks. I agree with you and think that trades are certainly undervalued. I know myself well enough to know that I never would have excelled in one, but I think there’s too much of an emphasis on going to college in our society. For some people, college is a great decision and it will help them achieve their goals. College isn’t for everyone though. People tend to think of those who don’t go to college as failures and I think that’s a shame.

    29. Kim

      April 5th, 2015 at 2:44 pm

      We’ve become such a disposable society don’t as a whole appreciate the talent of these artisans. This is a great story and reminder that success really is based on two truths: (1) You need to have a skill that is scarce and develop that skill to the best of your ability (whether that be through college or other training) and (2) You have to be willing to work hard.

    30. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank

      April 6th, 2015 at 5:16 am

      Why not Stef. If we could just free ourselves from debt and find a good source of income, we can achieve this. As a matter of fact, we should be getting additional education to make achieve this more easily and quickly.

    31. Anne @ Money Propeller

      April 6th, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      I find the lack of interest in trades to be fascinating. I live in a trades-heavy area and still they are crying for people. You get insane scholarships and bursaries from the government, PLUS you get to collect E.I. while in school (hello? being paid to go to school?!), and some employers will top up your EI (it has special rules because it’s for trade school). I can’t figure out how there’s still a shortage after all of that. I mean, I can, but there’s so much money in it! Even more so if you’ve got an entrepreneurial head on your shoulders and can be in charge of your own business.

    32. Kim@Eyesonthedollar

      April 6th, 2015 at 11:49 pm

      This is so true. Big city or small town. I have the hardest time finding quality tradespeople to work on our rentals. They either don’t show up, don’t return calls, or don’t stick to any sort of timeline. I think you could make bank if you were reliable and did decent work, regardless of how much you charge.

    33. Mikkaela

      April 7th, 2015 at 12:58 am

      Great post! I share this on LinkedIn because I definitely think the attitude people have taken towards the more trade-oriented skills should be addressed!

    34. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

      April 8th, 2015 at 12:55 pm

      Very interesting perspective and probably very true! I have to say though, college was so much more to me than just earning a degree. At least that’s how it turned out to be. Plus I think things were a tiny bit different “back then.” It was just assumed you needed a college degree for a decent job. Still, I probably would have poo-poo’d skilled labor jobs because of status myself…well that and I’m just terribly un-handy. 🙂

    35. Syed

      April 8th, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      I really like the quote by Rowe about status and compensation. Society talks so highly about honoring teachers, firefighters and veterans, but they are not compensated even close to what they’re worth. Many end up in poverty. Society has kind of trained us to think of certain professions with a kind of prestige, but jobs need to get done. Personally, I think a good carpenter or contractor is one of the best things you can find.

    36. Stefanie

      April 10th, 2015 at 8:17 pm

      Such a great quote. Really glad to have come upon it in my research.

    37. Diamonds in the Rough Roundup 4/10/15 - The Broke Professional

      April 10th, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      […] -How to Make Six Figures Before Thirty by The Broke and Beautiful Life:  Interesting take on a “non traditional” way to earn six figures early on.  Most people think of doctors, engineers or stock brokers as people that can make six figures before their 30’s, but a skilled tradesman with some business acumen can sometimes do just as well. […]

    38. Zina at Debt Free After Three

      April 19th, 2015 at 2:29 pm

      I’m so glad to see a post that shows the value of manual labor. For many people, college is not a necessity and if you don’t know what you want to do, you’d be better off working for a couple years instead of racking up thousands in debt. We should teach kids about the value in working as a tradesperson and not look down on people who work with their hands. Plus, a lot of those jobs are recession-proof!

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    41. Mr. G's room

      November 17th, 2015 at 11:52 am

      “good, skilled labor” is not even the right word for it. Labor sounds lowly, blue collar, etc… not that you can’t make 6 figures doing blue-collar work, but Mr. X is more of a craftsman. He creates art that other people direct. No different than being assigned a 500-word assignment for a newspaper. It’s all semantics, but, as I hate titles/labels, just sayin…

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