50 Jobs over $50,000 – Without a Degree (Part 2)

panelAfter the first article in this series, ideas started coming out of the woodwork. You might be amazed to hear about what some of your fellow readers have been up to. We ended up with more than enough to reach the goal of 50, and quite a few were new to me.


Real Estate Related
(thanks to Mrs. MM for many of these)

18: Real Estate Agent – a two month course ($800 at Kaplan) and you are out there. Then after 2 years of working beneath an existing agent, you can even go independent and keep everything you earn. With commissions around 3% of the sale price, you only need to handle about nine $200k houses per year (or four $450k ones, which is silly when you are on the customer end of things but cushy if you’re the agent).

19: Home Inspector – another short training course (plus good building knowledge and interpersonal skills in general), and you can get paid about $300 for 2-hour inspections.

20: Sewer Line Inspector – run a camera wire down through the floor drain in the basement, record the resulting video while looking for cracks in the pipe, charge about $200 per 20 minutes of work.

21: Appraiser – tour the house, run the numbers, email the report. $400 or so for a few hours of work. Initially your agency will take a cut, but of course you’ll start your own when ready.

22: Property Manager – You don’t have to actually buy rental houses, you can just handle the tenants: collecting rent, coordinating maintenance, shielding the landlord from the messy business. Pay can be great at around 1/12th of annual income of each property. With a stable of 20-50 units under management, you already have a $50k job that occupies well under 40 hours a week.

23: Mortgage Broker – understand and originate loan products to people buying houses. Meticulous and lightning-fast customer service is the key differentiator here rather than financial skill or education level. We know several people making well into the six figures in this area.

24: Title Insurance Provider / closer / salesperson – a mysterious industry with a high profit margin.

25: Fixing up Your Own House – With design sense and construction skills, you can move into a junker, renovate it efficiently, and sell it. If you live there longer than 2 years, the profit is tax free in the US. Eliminates most of the hassle of running a professional contracting business with fussy customers. Works best in the more expensive property markets so you do need roomates or spouse to pay the mortgage while you do the work, unless you already have savings to live on.

More Manual Jobs

26: Oil/Gas/Mining industry work – The energy boom in the US, Canada, Australia, and other places continues. In states with high demand, wages have risen far beyond average for people to run the equipment (and even higher for engineers and scientists able to run the overall operation). This story about the lad in Australia making $200,000 (and blowing it all) personifies the industry.

27: Wallpaper hanger – Sound antiquated? Think of hotels, what’s on most of their walls, and how often they renovate: From a reader: “I’ve been consistently pulling in anywhere between $400-$1000 per day for years now

28: Lady Mechanic/Garage owner – Mrs. MM suggested that today’s auto repair garages are generally male-oriented and clueless to the needs of a certain 50% of our drivers. Enter this Rosie’s Garage style of business that would combine full mechanical competence with a better understanding of how female vehicle owners would like to be treated. A very large niche market indeed!

29: HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) technician – furnaces and air conditioners (and their related ducting) are simple machines, but there are not many people in the trade. So the pay is high if you run your own little business.

30: Cable/Phone/Internet Installer: the larger companies subcontract this job out to independent contractors. Readers report that earnings can exceed $50k per year, especially in a growing metro area which tends to result in overtime or holiday work.

On the Road:

31: Truck Driver –  a grueling job at times, but the perpetual shortage of drivers has driven up rates. Bonus earnings if you own and maintain your own rig, and/or work in a remote or high-demand area (seek out the oil boom areas mentioned earlier and specialize in safely transporting drilling/mining equipment or piloting 300-ton rock trucks, for example).

32: Airport Shuttle Driver – on a recent trip to the airport, I got to talking with the Super Shuttle driver. A former electrician, he reported to me that all drivers are now independent contractors who own or lease their own blue vans. This fellow, with a mind for efficiency, was running a van with a smaller diesel engine and optimizing his routes and road selection. He also gives out free beverages and treats people well, which optimizes tip income. Earnings were over $100k per year.

 More Tech and Internet

33: User Interface Specialist – From a reader: ” In a nutshell, I make websites easy to use. I charge $80/hour, but will soon be raising that to $90. There are so few people who do what I do that I turn down about five offers for every project I accept.

34: Computer Technician – “You get a small roster of local business people who need their computers to work, and fix their minor Windows and networking issues. You can even branch into home theater and home automation, and the hotel and conference market. Geek Squad makes big bucks at this, but you can easily outperform them and charge $50-$100/hour”

35: IT Guy at the South Pole – the National Science Foundation contracts out workers in all fields to run the science labs on the bottom of the planet. In exchange for unusual conditions (-100F outdoor temperatures, months of blackness), you get free living with interesting people which allows you to reach the storied 100% savings rate. Honorable mention goes to this South Pole reader/photographer who sent me pictures of daily life in Antarctica. This concept can be applied elsewhere, even on tropical islands: live temporarily where your skills are in demand, get paid more, plus free living expenses.

36: Software Designer – Back in my day, the better jobs in this field required a full degree. Nowadays, you can prove your competence without one and get the same jobs at the more open-minded companies. This doesn’t mean it is easy – it takes a certain type of mind to be marketable at this, and a certain amount of practice on top of the base learning of the language itself. But for those with the prerequisites, Ryan Carson of Treehouse finds these sub-fields are in demand:

36(a)iPhone and Android app developers – Every big company needs phone and tablet apps developed to meet their own specifications. Or you can go it alone and bring your own ideas to fruition. A friend of mine is a tech worker by day, brilliant Ph.D. physicist by night. In his spare time he developed a beautiful iPad physics-based game where you get to shoot planets around each other. Occasionally, people buy it for 99 cents, and if your app catches on, it becomes a source of passive income. With the skills he developed making this game, he can now make other apps very quickly.

36(b) Web Developer- where you create the technology and algorithms that make websites work. Sort of a form of software design or programming.

37: Web Designer – where you create the beauty and functionality seen by users – more of an art/design job.

Catering to the Rich

This is a general category, because once you master the philosophy, you can apply it anywhere.

What do rich people have? Lots of income. What are they lacking? Time, and a supply of people to satisfy their numerous particular demands competently without screwing up.

If you can meet these needs, they will pass your name around the Rich Person Network of Friends and you are set for life.

38: Dog Walker – Four dogs at $15.00 per hour each. Walk around in the park for four hours a day and you’ve got a $50k job that is only half-time (and a great set of legs to show for it too).

39: Doggy Daycare or Pet Spa Owner – a natural extension of the Dog Walker. Dog owners need to go on vacation, and when they do, they pay hotel-like prices to have their pets cared for in their absence.

40: Frugality Consultant / Personal Shopper – I made this job up myself: Rich people spend more on groceries and wine alone than you spend on your whole lifestyle. What if you could run their errands, keep their pantry stocked, and coordinate maintenance of their mansions and vehicle fleets.. and yet save them more than they pay you in salary because you are an expert at efficient shopping, energy conservation, and maintenance? A valuable proposition if you can get your name into the right hands. I often fantasize about creating a “job” like this for myself in Hawaii or Malibu. Sydney would be nice too.

41: Interior Designer or Color Consultant – Here you get paid simply for having good taste and sharing it with others. Start by optimizing the homes of your own rich friends or family members, then getting them beautifully photographed. Then get the portfolio out into the network of high-end home builders and their customers. I have met several of these people and envied their relaxing and profitable jobs.

42: At-home Waxing, Haircuts, Massage, or Spa treatments – who has time to go out to a strip mall to get their pampering these days? Take the business to the customers.

43: The Pooper Scooper – from a reader: cleaning up the back yards of wealthy dog owners pays about $1.00 per minute. Not a glamorous job, but more efficient than flipping burgers for one tenth the pay rate.

People Jobs

44: Salesperson – a general category to be sure, but it pays well if you have the right skills and select the right industry. One hot area today: finding placements for consultants in the software and technology industry. Sales is a dream job for some, hell for others.

45: Debt Collector – hassle late payers over the telephone, collect commissions. I would not have guessed that this pays well, but a reader reported that it is fairly lucrative.

46: Private Tutor – whether teaching younger children or college students, this is an area where solid knowledge of a useful field, and a comfortable manner with people, are what determines your pay. But this rate is usually much higher than $25 per hour.


47: Ebay/Craigslist / Etsy / Freecycle / Kijiji Reseller – If you know the value of a certain product, you can identify undervalued items when they go up for sale. In my case, this might be appliances. By spending five minutes per day scanning new listings (or setting up automated alerts), I could scoop underpriced appliances and buy them immediately.. then re-sell them at a large profit. Bonus points if you have the ability to repair or refurbish things. Better photography and marketing also increases your resale price.

48: Food Truck Owner – the age-old mobile food vendor is back in vogue these days, but with a gourmet twist. By getting your food and your image right, you can develop a cult following in an area and clear $1000 per day in gross sales from a single vehicle. Enormous bonus if you can set up your truck in an area anywhere near a tour bus stop, then get the word out to the tour operators.

49: Boutique Organic Farmer – with the rise of “Foodies”, and big agribusiness companies like ConAgra and Monsanto rightfully deep in the public relations gutter, there is a now a lot of money flowing to people who can produce healthy food locally in high-income areas. In Colorado, I know two entrepreneurs who sell things like organic basil, eggs, and heirloom tomatoes to fancy people and gourmet restaurants, and make more money than either of us doing it. Startup costs were surprisingly low, but you do need to know how to grow.

49.5: Medical Marijuna Grower – in states where this is legal, it is a lucrative field. Competition is growing, but the window of opportunity is still open since many of the early success stories were potheads rather than business people. If you meticulously study and comply to the laws and efficiently grow the fast-growing plants, this is a $100k job out of a single basement.

50: The Military – formerly a mysterious field to me, I learned more about this when living in Hawaii last winter, where many high incomes are derived from the large US bases in the area.  Far from the usual stereotype of a bunch of musclebound guys with guns, the US military is in reality just the world’s largest high-tech company. Most of the jobs are related to circulating enormous amounts of technology, people, information, and equipment around the world. So there is far more engineering and office work than there is shooting and jet piloting. Pay and benefits are generous, especially if you can get assigned to a post far away from where you originally lived, thus scoring a tax-free housing allowance. Or get the fully funded university education that comes as part of some contracts. And that’s before we even get to the part where you work for 20 years and then qualify for a plentiful pension and free healthcare for life afterwards. It’s not easy and there is the chance of danger, but it is a real career.

We’re up to 50, and I didn’t even get to the end of the list submitted by family, friends and readers. The field of Alternative Moneymaking really is a big one, but hopefully these examples serve to illustrate the general theme.

To earn more money, you just need to identify one of the many showers of cash that are spraying in this prosperous but inefficient world, then position yourself under it with a bucket. Starting a new business can be risky, but if you do it from a position of strength (minimal startup costs, a day job, and a low personal cost of living), your chances are much better.

Further Reading: some of the ideas above were from Tyler Tervooren, the chief “Professor” at Advanced Riskology. I enjoy his blog because the stories and philosophy revolve around kicking ass at life in general through diligent risk-taking, which is exactly the right way to approach job hunting.

  • Melissa August 5, 2013, 6:47 am

    Ahhhh, another well written and informative sketch of my potential future life. What an awesome list of jobs!! Some of them would definitely be adventurous!! I’ll keep this in my favorites for ideas–you never know when you might want to try something new. Thanks again MMM!

    • Free Money Minute August 5, 2013, 9:21 am

      I agree. I might add one of these jobs as a side income to what I do during the day. Why not add this income at 100% to my savings in addition to the large amount of my income that I am currently saving.

      • MilwaukeeMN August 5, 2013, 11:27 am

        That’s what try with property manager. Although the 4-5 month rental season can be grueling. I often work 40+ hrs per week there on top of my 40+ hour week day job. The rental season is also most people’s vacation season; I’ve only seen 2 vacations in a decade. Headaches and emergencies can crop up at any time.

  • Shedinator August 5, 2013, 7:06 am

    One minor correction, regarding tutors: It’s true you can make well over $25/hour as a tutor, but in the large majority of cases, that is not without a college degree. I tutored from High School up through the middle of my first Master’s Degree. The larger tutoring services didn’t want a high schooler, and the people who hired me independently did so because they couldn’t afford the more expensive (25-75/hour) tutors. I don’t think I cracked $25 until my senior year of college, because it was nearly impossible to justify that rate when it was the same amount Grad students in a given field were charging. My reputation as a good tutor did allow me to raise my rates above what was ‘standard’ for a person sans-degree, but it took a while. So if you live anywhere near a college, particularly a research college where graduate work is being done, you probably don’t want to hold your breath while you wait to have the kind of references necessary to be pulling in $50k+ if you lack a degree.

    • Mrs PoP August 5, 2013, 8:53 am

      Or live near an Ivy or Ivy equivalent where the students tend not to think about how much something costs. In that situation, STEM tutors ran $30/hr for undergrad and $45-$60 for grad student tutors. You can make a killing around finals.

      • Shedinator August 6, 2013, 6:07 pm

        Yeah, I thought about that after I posted. I remember tutoring an Ivy League guy in Poli-Sci (a subject completely unrelated to my field) and him offering $45/hour without my even having to ask. And yes, offers tend to skyrocket around finals.

        nmlaura and Peachy raise other valid points. It can be hard to build up a full-time schedule, particularly if you’re going to the students’ residences (more common with college students, who also pay more). I think the most I’ve done in a week is 40 hours, and that was finals week with some really odd hours. A typical ‘full load’ week of tutoring for me was about 15 hours at $20/hour. Absolutely nothing to sneeze at, but not quite 50k.

        • Jeremy Cook July 10, 2014, 9:37 pm

          A college student was willing to pay you $45/hour for tutoring? That seems insane to me, but then I didn’t go to an Ivy League school. I never paid a tutor in college, but, man, I definitely couldn’t have afforded that price!

          • David May 29, 2016, 11:44 pm

            The median family income for Harvard students is something like 125k versus 50k for the US.

            • Erich May 30, 2016, 12:40 pm

              WOW, my wife and I make around $140k (canadian), and with childcare costs for our 3 kids we could never save enough to send them to an ivy league school. Eventually when they’re all in school those costs go down, but then government child benefits drop off a cliff after 6 years old too. It’s not like I’m poor but I don’t understand how the “median” Harvard student family income could be at my family’s level. I guess a lot of them just take on heavy debt for school.

    • nmlaura August 5, 2013, 10:47 am

      The other thing to know about tutoring, is that unless you are having the students come to you, there is a lot of travel time. Also, at least in my experience (1 1/2 years tutoring elementary through high-school kids) it is difficult to get more than 25 hours a week. I charged around $25/hr as a certified teacher while going to grad school, and the most I made in a month was maybe $1,200 gross. If you subtracted vehicle expenses, etc., then it really was not a lot of money. (It was enough to pay my monthly expenses and supplement the savings I already had, which enabled me to graduate from grad school debt free. in two years. But it definitely was not a comfortable amount where I was able to add to any savings.)

      • Kenoryn August 5, 2013, 2:07 pm

        Having students come to you is the way to go. That’s what I did, for both tutoring and teaching violin. I think it’s considered the norm, for music lessons at least, to have the student travel, not the teacher. if you don’t want to teach in your home you could probably find a space at a university or library or some such to tutor out of… violin lessons in the library probably wouldn’t be appreciated though. :)

      • Peachy August 6, 2013, 2:16 am

        I charge $40-50 per hour for Spanish tutoring. I am a native speaker so that is valued more than my degree. I live near a university and usually set up camp at a cafe and have several students come to me back to back. I haven’t tried to do it full time and there is always a lull in summer. But with just 10 students a week I can make over 20K a year (on top of my regular job) and it’s tax free.

        • Katie August 6, 2013, 12:21 pm

          Yeah, I wanted to add that most people around here want you to have a degree to tutor, but I’ve seen regular rates (for elementary school tutors) around $50-75/ hour. Not too shabby.

          • Patricia August 6, 2013, 8:25 pm

            Today I just finished tutoring my students ranging in age from 9 to 17. Eight students in a row because they all come to me–no travel time. Yes, I am a Masters + certified (several certifications) teacher so I can command a high salary. During the summer, I tutor students 3 1/2 days per week by choice. During the school year, I tutor 5 days a week and take standard public school vacations off. I love my job: great satisfaction.

            • Beth August 7, 2013, 6:59 am

              Hi Patricia,

              I’d love to know what subjects you tutor and what rates you charge if you don’t mind sharing.

            • jean November 18, 2013, 7:56 am

              I will never pay someone 75 an hour for me to have to do the traveling. I’ve payed 55 an hour but the person came to me. What most of my friends and I have noticed is that most tutors we’ve encountered claim to have degrees, but most do not. If you are hiring someone who is not part of a respectable company the chances are you are NOT getting the best (even if you are paying the high rates). I stopped using anyone who works independently (plus my school offers great tutoring for free). Most tutors are a waste of time and money. As for you may make more money if you have an IVY league near you it is not true. I am currently at an IVY league school and they offer tutoring (great tutoring) for free. The resources at any of the 8 IVY leagues are fantastic! FYI: If you plan to tutor an IVY league student or any college student you should have a degree or a few

            • AJ Shiner September 16, 2014, 11:16 am

              I get 180 – 220 hr for test prep tutoring and about 80% of my students come to me. Granted, I have two Ivy degrees + state teaching certifications. But it’s word of mouth through the mom network.. that’s where I get nearly all my biz. Best gig ever. However, I work 10-12 hr Sundays durin’ the school year No Saturdays ever. 2-3 hrs per weekday after school and after dinner. (Nights a bit of a drag but doable… I just envision more green soldiers working for me and my family. :-) Married with two kids, wifey works full time, 9-5. Health ins. and 401(k) with match from her job. Life is sweet! My weakness… nice cars. That’s why I’m reading MMM; trying ure my habit

        • IAmNotABartender June 28, 2016, 8:05 am

          (Just a note to future readers: it’s not actually tax free if the tax man takes interest in your finances.)

          • dandarc June 28, 2016, 11:16 am

            This – if you’re in the US, and you’re tutoring for pay, then you’ve got taxable income. If you choose not to report it, you might get away with it, or you might have some pretty severe consequences if you don’t get away with it.

  • phred August 5, 2013, 7:17 am

    Not at the end of the list? OK! When will Part 3 be ready?

  • Chris August 5, 2013, 7:18 am

    Good description of a typical Military job. Many benefits to be had. I think most would be surprised that the military is mostly made up of normal folks who like adventure. Of course that depends on which branch you’re in and the job you choose. Most junior Officers (mid level Captains) and above ( Major to LtCol) easily clear 85K up to about 145K, depending on time in service, rank and whether one qualifies for a yearly bonus (depends on your career field and current manning).

    • femmefrugality August 6, 2013, 1:00 pm

      Do NCOs make $50k+? Or what jobs are there that don’t require a college education in the military that do? As far as I understand it, being from a military family, you had to have a college education to be any type of officer. It may be paid by the military, depending on how you do it. It’s been a couple of years since I lived on a base or dealt with a military salary, so I could be discounting the NCOs pay.

      • Sarah Morrison August 6, 2013, 1:23 pm

        I was enlisted for 9 years before I got my commission in the Air Force. Since I spent 6 years on active duty from 1998-2002, I was able to convert the remaining balance of my Montgomery GI bill to Post 911 GI bill and start using it for my masters now. As an O-3E over 14 years in service, my base pay would be $76K not including my flight pay, housing allowance, subsistence allowance, and medical expense if I was on active duty. That would probably add another $15K a year. Since I’m a reservist, I don’t earn that much but it’s a hell of a part time job.

        This is the official link for military pay in 2013. For an E-5 (first level NCO for the Air Force) at 6 years, their pay is about $29K a year, but that doesn’t take into account housing allowance which varies by zip code, subsistence allowance which is about $250/month, and lack of having to pay for health care. Some jobs have special pay such as aircrew, divers, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, and other jobs in high demand. In those cases, The same example above could be earning $50K+ per year.

        • Chris August 6, 2013, 8:27 pm

          Yep, sorry, I missed the title of the article said 50 jobs without a degree. You do, in fact, need a degree (any) to realize the salary I posted above.

      • Casey D August 7, 2013, 10:43 am

        As an E-7 (7th highest enlisted rank out of 9 possible) with 14 years in the Air Force, between my base pay, monthly tax free housing allowance, monthly tax free food allowance, and annual clothing allowance, my after-tax income is equivalent to my wife who makes $70k per year (all taxed). On top of this, my medical and dental care is 100% free, I’ve earned two associate’s degrees a bachelor’s degree for free (there are organizations who will pay for books for enlisted like the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association).

        On top of this we have many other benefits like tax free income while deployed to combat zones and access to contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan (government 401K) to further defer our small taxable income and further pad our retirement income (it’s accessible immediately after separating/retiring from the military). Maxing the TSP, Roth IRA, and then receiving our pension really sets us up pretty decently once retired.

        The military retirement starts out at 50% of base pay (not housing, food, or clothing allowances) if retiring at 20 years. For every year after that, another 2.5% is added. If you are able to stay in for 30 years, you will make 75% of the average of your highest 3 years of pay. This, added to the fact that you’ve continuously earned raises (while not raising your standard of living and living like a Mustachian) and you don’t have to work when you retire.

        Sadly, most people who join the military won’t conform to the Mustachian way of life and tend to start off living like irresponsible college students with a steady income and then transform into a typical debt-ridden American. I’m trying to fix that one person at a time…

        On top of all of the benefits listed here (and the many I did not list), the military is truly a noble profession and I am extremely proud to serve.

      • Justin G August 7, 2013, 11:45 am

        NCOs certainly can make good money. Shoot, I was making over fifty as lower enlisted. It depends mostly on where you are stationed though. The housing allowance is more than the base pay in some locations. My last duty station BAH was 2200/month. Throw in 400 in language pay and 300 in BAS (and many other incentive pays), and the salary is fairly decent, especially considered that the BAH and BAS are tax free, as is the super cheap commissary where you buy your groceries. My pay after taxes was over 5k/month as an e5, not even including my 8 grand tax return every year (the majority if your pay being untaxed has huge tax advantages).

        When you add 100% free, no copay or limits healthcare, you need to make at least 80k to match that.

        • femmefrugality August 19, 2013, 9:06 pm

          Thank you all for the updated info! I guess the last base “I” was stationed at had a really low BAH (which partially means it was a cheap place to get a place to live.) Thank you to all of you who are/have served! Mad crazy, reverent respect.

        • Joe Average March 19, 2015, 10:47 am

          Either things have vastly changed since the 90s or I was really “doing it wrong”.

          Yeah – I think things have changed. My memory of $14K/yr is pretty accurate.


  • Rich Uncle EL August 5, 2013, 7:20 am

    Another great list of jobs, some might be harder to get into than others. But if you hustle enough you will get results. Funny you mentioned catering to the rich jobs, because I once read a fictional book about a guy doing misc. errands, including maintain/ cleaning cars for his client, and he stayed rent free in an apartment above the garage. I know it’s fictional but many of these stories are based from some type of reality.

    • Jane August 5, 2013, 8:12 am

      My husband as a high schooler created a profitable Christmas light stringing business which led to a “job” for a wealthy real estate developer that involved keepig an eye on the house, cleaning the built in coffee machine and other simple repairs and maintenance in exchange for a studio above a garage rent free. If only he had read your blog as a twenty year old. He could have been retiring now! Instead he spent all his money on luxury cars and dance lessons (pricey stuff!)

      • phred August 5, 2013, 10:41 am

        yeah, but because he can dance, he now has a wonderful wife!

        • Erin August 5, 2013, 11:24 am

          Lol – true. :) Everyone loves a man who can dance.

        • Jane August 5, 2013, 1:04 pm

          How did you know!? That’s where we met :)

    • Meg August 5, 2013, 11:00 am

      I used to work in very high-end spec home construction, and we worked with people who were basically live-in property managers. They get an apartment or cottage on site, and coordinate the team of staff necessary to keep a multi-million dollar estate running, in addition to helping the head of the family.

      It was something I once considered as a career path; a lot of the people I knew doing it were former construction workers with excellent people and management skills who could present a professional appearance.

  • Jacob August 5, 2013, 7:20 am

    I’m really digging on #40: Frugality Consultant / Personal Shopper. It’s somewhat related to financial coaching, which I also thing rich people need. Unfortunately, they often see things differently.
    If I could just show them the insane amount of money that they could save. Literally, serve it up on a platter, they might get it. Here’s to the dreamers!

  • Mark ferguson August 5, 2013, 7:25 am

    Nice work adding the real estate jobs. It is an extremely lucrative field.

    I thought of another little known niche. Reseller of wholesale items on eBay, amazon or thrift store. Big box stores wholesale returned and overstock items in pallets or even semi truck loads at huge discounts.

  • Paul Silver August 5, 2013, 7:32 am

    I’m a freelance web developer and it’s a field you can start in with very little overhead – you need a computer with an internet connection, and it certainly doesn’t need to be a new or even recent computer (my main work machine is several years old, albeit with some enhancements of RAM and an extra hard disk.) The money is good, especially as a freelancer/consultant, and I have no problem keeping costs down by working from home now I’m running my own company.

    Many, many tools to get you up and running are (legitimately) free, even if the versions your eventual employers or clients will use are paid for. You don’t need a degree in programming to get good employment or do good work.

    Programming isn’t for everyone, but there are a lot of different areas in the web industry that are well paid for people with an eye for detail and who are good at bridging the gap between people who can only talk in technical speak and customers who aren’t at all technical.

    Testing is an area that is seen as boring, so has less people trying to get in to it, but is very important, especially to larger clients, and you can do it with less training than you’d need as a programmer.

    If you’re out there and thinking “I can’t learn to program anything. I never learnt as a child.” – I learnt in my late 20s, from books and online, 13 years ago. It’s harder than learning as a teenager, but is completely possible, and there’s thousands of people you can talk to on the internet who will help you learn and improve, if you’re willing to put some work in.

    • Justin August 8, 2013, 12:20 pm

      Many people learn to program in their 20’s… it’s called College ;)

      Seriously though, I started my “real” academic path at around 22, so that’s when I learned to program in College, but I’ve had two friends who got unrelated degrees independently learn programming and become my coworkers doing development. Really, the fact that they had degrees probably didn’t even help them land the job, it was more the fact that they had proven themselves to the right people. (Seriously, it’s all who you know)

      The software development industry (and especially web development) is definitely a place where a CS degree can help get your foot in the door, but once you have a couple years experience in the industry, many places don’t care if you have a degree or not any more.

      You’ll still find big corporations, and even small companies, that take themselves very seriously and have a CS degree as a prerequisite. Some with good reason, there is definitely some foundational knowledge to be gained from learning the Science of Computers, and the impact your coding decisions could have, but there is a difference between a Computer Scientist and a Software Developer. There is some overlap there, certainly, and depending on the scope and requirements of the project, you may need a deeper knowledge than self-taught programmers may have (I had an instructor who worked on code for the Space Shuttle, for example) but there are still plenty of jobs out there for people who learn on their own.

    • OhYongHao March 20, 2015, 3:21 pm

      I started out doing in house coding for an energy reseller.
      Moved on to in house estimation software for a structured cabeling company.
      Then moved to code maintainer at a huge giant in the industry, and have slowly transitioned to doing validation testing as a major part of my job.

      I took 2 computer classes at college while in high school which were boring to me because everything they covered I already knew. No degree, but now over 10 years experience, $85k/year. Also run my own blog, and a diet website based off The Hacker’s Diet. Sometimes I do side jobs which can be lucrative.

  • Mr. 1500 August 5, 2013, 7:37 am

    I like the 36 category. Like you said, no degree required. Throw up a cool app on an app store or a website on Google’s App Engine. When an employer asks about experience, just send them the URL. Nuff’ said.

    Also, there is a plethora of free, online tutorials to help you out. The answer to any programming issue you’ll come across can be answered by Google in about 10 seconds.

  • Dragline August 5, 2013, 7:42 am

    I had a friend who built up a dog-walking business from nothing and eventually sold it for a decent profit. It’s better to hire the walkers and work on getting new clients than to be doing a lot of the walking yourself.

    • jamesqf August 5, 2013, 3:02 pm

      That depends on your personality. Me, I’m great with dogs but not so good with humans, so I’d enjoy the walking part, but loathe having to get & deal with clients.

      • Holly August 5, 2013, 6:46 pm

        There is a lady who does this in my community and she has to be making a lot of money. She’s generally walking at least 5 dogs at any given time and I pass her frequently at all hours of the day. Instead of walking them on a leash, she wears this crazy body harness thing and just hooks their leashes to it. Sometimes she has 5 or 6 big dogs hooked on and she’s running and pulling them along. It’s hilarious and badass all at the same time!

        • bgurrl October 3, 2014, 12:45 pm

          And from what I’ve seen for 1 hour dog walking rates it’s up to $25 and hour

  • TimmyOFong August 5, 2013, 7:57 am

    Here’s mine: Operations Center Officer for a marine transport company. Salary starts at $55,000 plus benefits. I track vessels and manage incidents from a high tech room in an office building. I have a degree, but 3/4 of my fellow workers don’t.

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 5, 2013, 8:17 am

      Oh yeah! And what about the Merchant Marine profession itself? I don’t know much about the requirements, but it always sounded like a relatively badass and adventurous job to me, and I heard the pay is great.

      • GayleRN August 5, 2013, 12:28 pm

        There are training and licensing requirements, at least on the Great Lakes where I live. To scale it down a bit, there are smaller seasonal businesses such as fishing charters, renting out boats ranging from jet skis and kayaks on up and other fun water equipment. I also know people who make a bit of money with shrink wrapping and unwrapping boats which of course has to be redone every year.

      • Joe Norris August 6, 2013, 12:11 am

        I am a mariner. There is no college required though some people choose to go to the academies. It is possible to advance to the highest paid positions of chief engineer and captain through on the job training. A few week long courses may also be required along with ongoing safety training. Many of the companies pay for the training. Starting pay is around 40, 000 to 50, 000. If you commit yourself to moving up the license structure you can make over 100, 000 before the academy guy finishes his schooling.

        • maria January 30, 2017, 8:47 pm

          Hi, do you know which companies I can contact offering on the job training , mariner.
          And is there an age limit. Thank you, mmv

      • Mike Saunders February 8, 2014, 11:49 am

        Great site Mr MM!

        Re: Merchant Marine,

        Just retired from this line of work after 35 years having started w/ a high school education myself and worked my way up to Captain w licenses from 3 different countries. Everything paid off and nice nest egg to boot!

        For young guys w/ no family commitments this can be an excellent way to retire fast. For others with families one needs to have serious discussion w/ spouse before hand as it involves being away from home from 6-9 months a year.

        Advantages- Excellent pay once you get beyond entry level positions, especially if working in oil and gas side of things. For US companies wages generally around $200- 350/ day + overtime in some cases for unlicensed crew, (non-officer), depending on contract and qualification/ training level. Up to $550/ day for licensed crew depending on contract and qualifications. Wages are rising steadily as the industry is facing a rapid drain of senior personnel retiring and not enough newcomers to replace them.

        Room and board free while aboard ship. Medical care covered if injured or sick while aboard. If you are permanent employee many companies offer insurance and other benefits like 401K,s etc How you optimize this along the MMM principles is your choice.

        On board accommodations and communications are rapidly improving now due to international regulations. New vessels now pretty much have single cabins and even older ones are most often 2 persons at most.
        Satcomms is rapidly becoming a business requirement now which leads to many vessels having at least e-mail/ Internet access and often satellite phone services. No more out-of- touch for long periods like the old days.

        Minimum 3 months off in a year to do what you want and sometimes up to 6 months free. My final job gave me 6 months working 6 months off w/ pay but that is by no means common. (Before everyone faints w/ joy please realize that this entails 12 hrs a day, 7 days a week minimum + on call 24 hrs a day if problems arise. If you run the numbers you’ll find you generally work more hours than the classic 9-5!) Some of that time will be lost to training classes to keep current but it’s beats 14 days vacation per year.

        Paid to travel the world. This is variable depending on the ship’s type of work. The times of spending several days/ weeks in port are rare unless your ship winds up assigned to work in just one area. You can see the world but it will be in a work environment.

        Dis-advantages- 6-9 months away from home, If something goes south while you are offshore someone else will have to deal w/ it. Probably not so much of a problem for young un-marrieds but it can play havoc w/ relationships!
        You are stuck on a steel box surrounded by water and generally w/ at least one person there you dislike. If you have a problem getting along w/ people from other cultures or those w/ ideas you don’t agree with don’t do this for a living.
        If you are looking for wild excitement and adrenaline rushes go somewhere else. If you get them here it’s because there’s a real good chance that either you or those around you may have a distinct possibility of winding up dead very shortly! Think about the money you are saving and be able to entertain yourself. No drama is nice.
        Yes it can be dangerous and yes you can get killed. The ocean is absolutely unforgiving to those who make mistakes. That said, a large part of of your daily life aboard is dedicated to preventing just that in one way or another.
        Constant self-discipline is required at all times while aboard as failure on your part can compromise the health and safety of everyone else around you. Also a DUI, drug bust or some other serious felony committed while you are off or on board can end your career immediately. It’s a serious business and the licensing authorities expect you to be a responsible adult at all times. The drunken sailor routine is going the way of the dodo!
        Difficult to get into and get started but once in if you apply yourself you can go all the way to the top w/o college education. Easiest way is to start w/ a government organization like NOAA or Military Sealift Command who will pay lower wage scale but will cover your mandatory training costs. Once you have moved out of the entry level positions, (about 2.5-3 years), start shopping around for the highest bidder.

        It’s not for everyone but if you want a job that pays quite well while knocking a big hole in expenses it’s something to consider,

        crew those vessels as no one will want to work for them.

  • Stephen August 5, 2013, 7:58 am

    One job that HAS to be on this list is crew on megayachts… I personally know a handful of people without degrees who consistently make over $50k and live in the most beautiful places on earth, all whilst potentially saving 100% of their income tax free.

    Sure it’s hard work, long hours dealing with demanding mega rich people etc, but stick it out for 5 years or so and you can have a large chunk of change set aside. I know a couple who did it for 10 years and went home to Australia to retire when she got pregnant. They were in their early 30’s…

  • n0ah_fense August 5, 2013, 8:01 am

    Real estate agents earn 10k/year on average as many work part time or only use their license to save commission and help out family members.

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 5, 2013, 8:19 am

      Probably true – there are a lot of licensees out there. But Mrs. MM finds that even while actively turning down 90% of people who ask her for help, potential business keeps coming in. It could become a $100k job for her if she just started saying “yes” instead of “no thanks” – made possible by a good network of friends and an established reputation for being meticulous and speedy.

  • evakatharina August 5, 2013, 8:05 am

    I’m so loving all these ideas!

    As a person making solidly over $50k in a non-degree related field (nanny to the ultra-rich), I’m mentally filing many of these ideas while actively working towards a small handful of them already as possible future gigs for when this nanny gig is up/ I get tired of it/ I want to have my own kid.

    Having friends who are also open to pursuing non-traditional paths of employment has helped me a lot in keeping an open mind towards the range of jobs that are really out there if you’re willing to think outside the box. I met a girl once who works as a “sleep coach” to families in NYC. She started as a nanny, found out she had a knack for teaching kids to sleep through the night in their own beds, and started her own business where she goes around from family to family teaching kids & parents techniques for exactly that. I don’t know exactly how much she makes, but I suspect $100k + easily.

  • Jon August 5, 2013, 8:05 am

    My father was a lineman for an electric utility for over 20 years. He made over $100k per year. No degree is required; just a high school diploma. The company provides on the job training. Excellent benefits and pension, too.

  • GamingYourFinances August 5, 2013, 8:08 am

    So many jobs that my high school guidance councilor never told me about!!! Good list! There are so many well paying jobs out there!

  • kriserts August 5, 2013, 8:26 am

    One of my best friends is a dog walker here in NYC. This woman is in her 70’s, and FIT. (I’m much younger, also fit, and filled in for her once, and it was grueling.) She’s facing a lot of competition lately, but has been able to assemble a 400-500k stash on top of her pension. When she told me that I was really impressed. The only downside is if you get injured, as she was lately, you’re out of work. But all her payments are in cash, and I assume tax-free.

    • Stephen August 5, 2013, 11:15 am

      “I assume tax-free.”

      If you’re self-employed, then you pay the appropriate tax amount quarterly rather than having it deducted from a paycheck.

      • Jacob August 6, 2013, 11:37 am

        If you’re self-employed, then you SHOULD pay the appropriate tax amount quarterly rather than having it deducted from a paycheck.

        Fixed that for you. Unfortunately many people, who accept cash payments are eager to commit tax fraud.

  • No Waste August 5, 2013, 8:38 am

    If you’re really willing to hustle and grind, you can operate a vending machine business.

    Competitive, but once it’s rolling, you just drive around and reload snacks all day.

    Start with one machine and just keep adding.

  • Simply Brilliant August 5, 2013, 8:50 am

    I didn’t see house-keeping/maid service…
    While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, in certain markets it can be very lucrative. Average ‘independent’ in my neck of the woods charges $25-$35 per hour. If you don’t mind other people’s toilets, it’s not a bad business idea. Once you have built a cllient base, you can be a little more choosy with the homes you service.

  • Mrs PoP August 5, 2013, 8:51 am

    Added to the list of things rich people need:
    On call transportation of purchases. Try fitting a new armoir in the back seat of a maserati. Not gonna happen. But you’re too rich and important to wait a couple days for delivery. So you call an on-call service that picks up your purchases and delivers them to your home within a matter of a couple hours.
    This exists in our area, and deliveries are usually a couple hundred bucks per delivery made with those big Sprinter cargo vans.

  • Kyle August 5, 2013, 8:59 am

    I am currently Active Duty Air Force and was ready to mention military as a job capable of earning $50K a year without a degree. I didn’t see it on part 1 and was happy to see it just round out the top 50. There is still, for some reason, a stigma about the low pay of being in the military. Years and years of raises to make military pay equal to civilian pay has made even being enlisted a great life… I won’t even mention officer pay! Healthcare, optical, and dental are covered for you and your family. Housing and food allowances are tax free. Oh, and you get to retire w/ 50% pension after only 20 years!! Talk about being FI and not even 40 years old!

    I feel this is one of the very few ways left for someone to graduate, get a job and live what was once the middle class American life.

    • chris August 5, 2013, 8:25 pm

      Kyle, I highly recommend you read Doug Nordman’s book on Military Retirement and Financial Independence.

      • Rich Davis August 6, 2013, 8:16 am

        Big +1 on Nord’s book and website!!!

  • La August 5, 2013, 9:12 am

    Great list, it is sure to get people thinking.
    To add my 2 cents: I am a real estate appraiser. Getting someone to mentor me was difficult and laborious, although with the market picking up now might not be as difficult a time for that to be accomplished. The following 2 year (required) apprenticeship was grueling and beat me up as if I were going to school, working full time and not being paid much (barely covered my gas – appraising is a “clown car” profession, ahem).
    Then came the licensing tests.
    Then: Starting my own business, which in the recent down market took
    long hours and other work (more later) to get me thru financially.
    NOTE: Real Estate Appraiser now requires a 2 year degree to be Licensed, a 4 year degree to be Certified ( which is a must in today’s market, FHA requires this, for example). So real estate appraising is not a 50K job that does not require higher education.
    Happy to report that now I am doing very well and love the flexibility and income appraising provides me – however $350 is pretty much the top fee around here for a simple single family home appraisal MMM!

    Other work that I still do/have done: dog sitter, singer in a band, landlord, model. Mom to daughter still living at home.
    We have 2 children in college!!! – they are smart and got GRANTS to expensive East Coast schools : we/ they are paying hardly anything!)

    My husband: self employed sales, umpire, landlord, handyman, drummer.

    We feel great knowing we have our pick of jobs, although it took some time to get here. Friends have mentioned being laid off “at our ages” and being worried about it. Not a concern with us. We may not be able to “retire traditionally” but we are already our own bosses and retired in our own way (a facet of Mustashianism is:- we are not all alike!!) and we are working daily with focus on doing less and less of what we don’t absolutely love.

    Our next Mustashian move is moving households (within our city) to my MIL’s home. She’s elderly and we are emptying our nest. We will rent our home and free ourselves from the mortgage and make additional rental income, while freeing up my husband’s time (he’s been maintaining both of our houses for some time now). Obviously many additional benefits here with some concerns, of course, but we are very optimistic! I see this as a such a win win and encourage others to keep on this path with MMM and think outside the box. Would love to hear from others who may have done this type of thing too!

  • CincyCat August 5, 2013, 9:13 am

    I was thinking of dabbling in the craigslist market as a side hustle. I am pretty good at stripping & refinishing furniture, and thought I might be able to make some “beer money” on the side by buying solid wood pieces on craigslist, refinishing & selling them. Also, there is a great deconstruction/reclaim company (a non-profit) close to where I live that often has quirky pieces in need of a little TLC. I probably won’t make $50K doing it, but every little bit helps… (plus, I think refinishing furniture is fun!)

    • phred August 5, 2013, 10:47 am

      be careful you don’t strip any genuine antiques as that will destroy their value

      • CincyCat August 6, 2013, 8:26 am

        Yes, that’s true. Antiques need to be handled with care. If there is anything I find where I am not sure of the origin, I will take it to an antique dealer for an appraisal. In some cases, especially if there is physical damage to the piece, a careful restoration can increase the value. :)

        • CincyCat August 7, 2013, 12:31 pm

          After thinking this through, it dawned on me that there is no reason I can’t educate myself on how to recognize & appraise antiques. So, after a few minutes of searching for certifications on the internet, I found ISA (International Society of Appraisers). They have several courses available online, and for a couple thousand bucks, I could teach myself whether or not that rocking chair was something the Ingalls family may have actually used, or if it was mass produced in 1967. After doing this for 3 years, I can apply for certification, and can hire myself out for appraisals, estate sales, etc. Hmmm…

    • Tammy August 5, 2013, 11:00 am

      I like this idea…I like refinishing furniture, too! (Hopefully we don’t live in the same area…)

      • Rich Davis August 6, 2013, 8:18 am

        My FIL filled his home with gorgeous refinished furniture when everyone wanted the new exciting plastic crap in the 60’s and 70’s. We have inherited several of his awesome pieces.

    • Elwood August 5, 2013, 5:44 pm

      Don’t sell yourself short—if you have a good eye and a creative mind you can make some real money re-designing salvaged furnature. Check out Emily Henderson’s website for an example. She does amazing work.

  • Done by Forty August 5, 2013, 9:59 am

    So many of these sound like interesting hobbies to pursue during FI/early retirement. How cool would it be to live in South Pole, or to learn about your own house by becoming a home inspector?

    Of course, the early retirement police will book anyone trying to earn money in retirement…

    • stellamarina August 6, 2013, 3:23 pm

      I met an older couple a few years ago who had spent a summer doing maintenance work at the US base at the Antarctic. I also have a couple of handymen cousins who did the same at the NZ Antarctic base and remote islands with radio report stations. There is adventure if you look for it.

  • Kaitlyn August 5, 2013, 10:01 am

    Brilliant! I think you need to do a top 100 in that case.
    I think another important thing to note is that many of these jobs can be done alongside each other. As a polymath and someone who gets bored by repetition, I LOVE delving into side projects for the experience and bonus income. It’s something I do often and as a result I have a really fantastic CV.

  • Tyler Tervooren August 5, 2013, 10:14 am

    It is literally (wait, no.. figuratively) raining money around here. You’re up to 50 jobs, but there are hundreds and hundreds more that could fill up just one of the sub-categories.

    Wherever you can find a group of people who have money but no time, there is a service business or job that is waiting to shoot a fire hose of money at you.

  • Neverland August 5, 2013, 10:19 am

    A lot of these jobs…eg the real estate ones you can make a lot of money under the right economic conditions but they aren’t really long term careers

    Eventually either the boom plays out or the fields are easy enough to enter that competition lowers wages

    There were spanish high school drop outs making $75,000 on building sites in 2000s, website developers making $100,000+ in the 90s, news print workers in the 80s making $75,000 and there are Australian truck drivers making $100,000, now maybe still

    Under a high saving ratio type regieme you could make it work if you are either willing to be mobile or switch from one career to another

    In many respects this is what the blogger did I guess, switching from IT to housebuilding to internet punditry

    • ICE'STRO THE GAMBLER August 5, 2013, 6:53 pm

      Out of all the comments I liked this one the best.

      I’ve been a professional poker player for the last 11 years and I’ve had years when I made 6 figures during the height of the “poker boom” (one year I made $500K) to the last couple of years when I made 25-30K.

      It’s not hard work; I play cards for a living. But it is dependent on what’s going on in the economy and whether the competition lowers the wages. The recession and the abundance of information that hit the market teaching people how to play poker correctly is what has deflated so of the many poker pros once star-studded incomes.

      I came across your blog because I was selling a house I got thru an inheritance. I started to sell some of the items inside the house and a person who makes their living from selling things on Craigslist recommended your site. In 4 days I re-arranged our finances from spending 57 K a year to 42 K a year by making some phone calls and adjusting my families priorities.

      After selling the house I had already decided to pursue my real estate license. In PA you only need 30 hours and if you go thru a established realty company you can find huge discounts on classes. My classes for the 30 hours are $249.

      I like the list. I don’t like wearing a tie. I am trying to make a combination of several of those work for myself. I like the idea of thinking outside the box. I have a degree in electrical engineering/computer science but I only had a corporate job for 3 years out of college. I have worked as a radio DJ, manager of group on a major label and like I said most recently, poker professional. I am 48 years old.

      I was interested to see if poker player was going to make your list. I don’t recommend anyone become a professional poker pro/cardshark. The pros of the lifestyle are the freedom of the schedule but after a while being in a casino because you have to and not because you want to can become a real drag. And then you have to be a good enough cardplayer to consistently beat the game and not ruin your finances.

      When I was in college I remember one of the engineers saying that some people switch jobs up to 7 times during their working life. The most important thing I’ve learned is to manage your money/bankroll whatever you decide to do.

      • julie sunday August 6, 2013, 12:23 pm

        @mrmoneymoustache, can you please do an article on this gentleman? ice’stro your story sounds incredibly interesting!

      • Cameron April 12, 2016, 7:42 pm

        Not sure whether this will make the cut, but down in Australia the online gambling industry is currently flourishing. Lots of companies will offer sign up bonuses for new clients and when you add them up they equal about $5000. I did this for myself and about 20 friends and family and made at least $50k per year for myself plus several thousand (50-50 split) for everyone else.

        If you play the game right (i.e. lose), the companies will continue to offer bonuses to get repeat business from you. Multiply these repeat offers by even a portion of the 20 accounts, and you are literally set for life.

        I could have made my first million in a few years had my wife gone for the idea, but it didn’t sit right with her. It was my ideal side hussle (and perfect for a stay-at-home dad as I was when I started), but much like Icestro the novelty started to wear off.

        My wife eventually wore me down and it was becoming increasingly difficult anyway as my son grew up and demanded more of my time. Towards the end I started trying to cut corners and take greater risks to shorten my “working day” so decided to give it away. Fun while it lasted though!

    • TOM August 6, 2013, 5:30 am

      I don’t think the title or purpose of the article was the easiest ways to earn $50K, instead it was about well-paying careers with a low barrier of entry. There still are website developers who pull in $100K. They just bust their asses in a competitive field.

  • Adam August 5, 2013, 10:45 am

    Good list, one quibble…
    Being a truck driver is a great money-maker, but being an owner-operator is a great way to go bankrupt. If your truck breaks down, you now have the repair bill in the thousands and are not earning one penny to pay for its repairs or any other bills while its being worked on. A big nest egg is vital and even then it may not be enough.

    I once worked for a commercial lender with a very conservative lending policy and even then every owner-operater they loaned to eventually defaulted when the truck broke down and bills mounted up to a point where they couldn’t get clear again. My wife worked for a trucking company for three years and the drivers with the best earnings over the course of their career were those who used the company fleet rather than risking their livelihood on a truck of their own.

    • Andrew August 14, 2013, 9:20 am

      That’s not inherit in the job, it’s due to bad business sense. You make more money as an owner-operator. If you have good business acumen, you will save away some of that for repairs that will inevitably come, or insure your truck with a third party against break-downs.

      Speaking of transportation, a job I rarely see on these lists is a career with the railroad. I know high school graduates pulling over $100,000 a year working on a train crew. It’s a different lifestyle for sure, and the benefits are great (especially not paying into social security!)

  • cajen August 5, 2013, 10:53 am

    How do you reconcile some of these jobs with the true cost of driving? My favorite take-away from this blog is that the cost of driving is quite high!

    Let’s say a job like HVAC installer or cable installer pays $15-$25/hour, and your average job is 10 miles away, or a 20 mile round trip. If the cost of driving is $0.25 per mile, the pay is reduced by about $5/job, so maybe you’re only making $12.50-$22.50/hour if your jobs are typically two hours.

    Are there any tricks here? Perhaps gas and/or car maintenance is tax deductible for a self-employed person?

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 5, 2013, 12:12 pm

      Yes – you get to deduct mileage at 56.5 cents per mile, which is quite a bit higher than the actual cost of driving if you use, say, a 2001 Ford Ranger 2WD 4-cylinder manual (about $1500 used and 30MPG) as your work truck.

      But you’d also want to bill higher for non-local jobs, and/or avoid short jobs that are far away. My favorite furnace guy has a standard $80 service fee which is the minimum, covering up to an hour or so of work.. then it goes up from there.

  • CL August 5, 2013, 11:03 am

    I’m interested in learning more about this “User Interface Specialist” position, partially because I’m already the usability person for my team – a team that produces a beautiful Android app. Very interested indeed, because though I think I make a solid amount, I’m not making $90/hour.

    • Joe August 5, 2013, 9:19 pm


      I’m interested in breaking into user interface consulting…I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and a hobby interest in computing. Any tips on getting into the field? I was considering going to Treehouse to learn the basics in HTML/Java/PHP, is that recommended? Any advice would be appreciated.


      • Mike Edwards August 6, 2013, 5:08 am

        I’d imagine that actual coding wouldn’t really be required – the job is more about advising on how a site could work better, not actually making the changes. Basically you’re looking at the stuff the coders are “too close” to see.

      • CL August 6, 2013, 1:25 pm

        I have a degree in psychology as well.

        Like Mike said, I can’t actually code anything. I plan on learning how to code and have made 2 attempts to get started. I finished the intro to Ruby on Rails course at CodeSchool and I did the first bits of Javascript at Codecademy. My team codes in C# and Java, though, so I’ll probably head in that direction shortly.

        Where I am is almost entirely by happenstance. I work for a software company that will take anybody who is sufficiently bright and train them. I’m certified in two software applications that my company has and I am working on a third certification now. My company also is paying me to read books on usability and attend lectures and seminars on it. I’ve got internal training on usability as well. This is partially because during my first meeting with my boss I waxed poetic about usability (I did learn about it in school from an extremely fabulous HCI expert). Everyone’s excited about designing for mobile interfaces and there’s pretty interesting stuff going on there. (In addition, our software’s lowest Gartner ranking is on usability, so we are actually actively trying to improve it.)

        tl;dr I pretty much got employed by a software company and told them I wanted to do it. They let me and gave me cool software and other awesome stuff.

        • win August 9, 2013, 1:32 pm

          Where do you work?

      • Peachy August 7, 2013, 12:53 am

        The big tech company in my area hires UI specialists at about $90/hour if they’re contractors. It’s less for the full time direct hires but then they also get stock options, bonuses and full benefits. A degree is not required but most do have at least some basic coding skills. The most important thing is to have a great portfolio – that can be filled with personal projects, things you’ve done for free or as a freelancer. They just want to see your work. And it’s not just for websites, they work on apps, specific programs, any kind of software.

    • Joe (yolfer) August 6, 2013, 11:13 am


      MMM, will you please let the User Interface expert know he can send his extra jobs my way?

    • Alicia August 7, 2013, 1:43 pm

      That was me. My actual title is senior user-experience architect. I’m freelance in Chicago. I’m not making $90/hr either … yet. But my rate has been $80 for a few years, and the only clients who bat an eye are ones I wouldn’t want to work for anyway.

      If you’re in-house, junior/mid-level, and getting lots of training from your company, it makes sense that you’d be paid a lot less. I cover all my own expenses and write five-figure checks for taxes every few months, plus cover my own health insurance, vacations, etc. And I’ve been doing this for 8 years.

      I’d definitely encourage you to go freelance someday, once you feel like you’ve paid your company back for investing in you so nicely!

      • Joe (yolfer) August 8, 2013, 11:27 am

        Hi Alicia,

        Thanks for stepping forward about this. I’ve been doing UI/UX and web application design in-house for various employers over the past decade. Any advice for starting out on my own? My main hurdle would be finding clients. I’m in Seattle if it makes a difference.


    • Graham February 5, 2014, 10:56 am

      Did you ever find out more about the user interface specialist? It seems like a lot of people were intrigued by that idea

  • Debt Blag August 5, 2013, 11:04 am

    This is terrific! It just goes to show that sometimes, you can think outside of the box and get great results!

  • Stephen August 5, 2013, 11:05 am

    “If you live there longer than 2 years, the profit is tax free in the US.”

    I thought the law on this changed in 2009. ARebelSpy dug up the applicable IRS page in the forum:


    • Mr. Money Mustache August 5, 2013, 12:08 pm

      I think that IRS page deals with properties that are used as rentals during part of your ownership time. The primary residence is still tax-free. Other experts – did I get this right or am I missing a new detail?

      • Lucas August 6, 2013, 5:47 am

        You are correct Mr. MM. If you never rent a property then the 2 year rule is all you have to worry about.

        The IRS changes mean that you can’t rent a property and then move back into it for 2 years and get 100% of the capital gains tax free. The % of capital gains that are tax free is now a ratio of the total time of living in the property to total ownership time.

        There is still a living there 2 years in the last 5 years rule to qualify for partial tax free as well I believe though.

      • hamster August 6, 2013, 9:42 am

        The other caveat is that there is a lifetime limit of $250k free of cap gains tax from sale of all primary residences for your whole life. It is doubled for married couples. So, in theory, in your whole life as a couple, the most you could earn tax-free through appreciation/improvements to your home would be a half million. Still nothing to sneeze at.

        • Mr. Money Mustache August 6, 2013, 3:01 pm

          Are you sure there is a lifetime limit in the US, Hamster? I thought that it changed with the 1997 tax cut as described here: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/money-guides/computing-capital-gains-on-home-sale-1.aspx

          • Brian1975 August 6, 2013, 3:08 pm


            I would use this site as it would be from the IRS. I would also consult an Accountant before making any decision’s. Bad surprises are never good.


          • Hamster August 7, 2013, 1:17 am

            I was totally wrong on that one… Thanks.

        • lucas August 7, 2013, 11:43 am

          There use to be a lifetime limit, but that changed back in 1997 with the passage of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. Not meant to be a dig on you, but I am surprised how many people still think the lifetime limit applies. I actually just had this discussion with my boss about 2 weeks ago as he thought it did as well. Maybe it just ties to the last time you sold a home :-)

    • arebelspy August 6, 2013, 10:07 pm

      That is indeed about rentals, if you lived there 2 of the last 5 years the capital gains bonus is prorated (so 2 of 5 years you’d save 40%).

      If you lived there the whole time (I.e. it wasn’t a rental) and at least 2 years, you get the whole amount, 250k individual, 500k married. No lifetime cap, you can do it every two years.

      It’s a solid strategy for those looking to put in sweat equity and force appreciation in a house (buy one that needs fixing up, fix it up, sell it and bank the gains tax free, rinse and repeat).

  • Ian August 5, 2013, 11:14 am

    Great list and I’m sure there are many many more!

    I love the “back of the envelope math” that is used in your articles, but it’s worth noting that the hourly rates that certain professions charge include a percentage for overhead expenses (infrastructure costs, benefits, taxes, etc) and therefore don’t equate to take home pay.

    A mechanic charging $70/hour may only receive $20/hour as take home pay for that 1 hour of billable labor. The other $50 goes to the costs of the garage, tools, management salaries, any benefits offered, etc.

    The amount of Overhead will be different everywhere – less overhead as a self-proprietor than in a large shop.

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 5, 2013, 12:05 pm

      Good point, and a good reason to do your own math before taking on employees.

      I remember one business owner telling me he had to bill out his workers at $70, and yet he only makes $40 himself after all the “overhead” of having a staff and facilities big enough to house them. If that is the case, he’d be better off working solo with no overhead and keeping all of $70 for himself.

      Although it is a great feeling to help people out by creating jobs, the total flexibility of being solo is more compatible with a retirement lifestyle for me. Earn less in exchange for the peace of not having anyone depending on you for their next paycheck.

  • Sister X August 5, 2013, 11:25 am

    One thing about the mining jobs: my husband worked as an environmental technician for a mining company last summer (in Alaska). A lot of these jobs, and the oil industry jobs, are shift work. His schedule was two weeks on, one week home. Yes, his living expenses were paid for while he was at work. But the food can be hit or miss (some camps have fantastic food, others don’t), the conditions weren’t the greatest (half the camp was legally not allowed to be used due to old contamination and general disrepair), and the days were frequently very long (15+ hours). It’s good money, but you do have to put up with a lot and if you have pets or are in a relationship, it can be very difficult. A lot of these places (at least, around here) don’t have great or even decent internet connections, either, so just Skyping can be hit or miss, and that takes a toll on both parties when you don’t get to see each other. I can’t even imagine how much it would have sucked if we’d had kids when he worked this job.
    One final point, in a resource intensive field you’re also at the mercy of investors. At any point the market for that resource could tank (the one exception seeming to be oil) and investors could pull out and you’d be SOL for a job.

  • Paul August 5, 2013, 11:37 am

    I’ve had my real estate license for the past 4 years. I got it so I could view and purchase foreclosed proeprties to own as rentals. Since I got my license I have helped several friends and family members purchase homes. On a typicaly year I don’t make 50k but I only spend an hour or two a week on this. If I devoted 40 hrs/week to this 50k would be fairly easy goal to reach.

    Great list!

  • Jennifer August 5, 2013, 12:00 pm

    Although not everyone might make $50k at one of these jobs alone, they could definitely combine 2 or 3 to easily get to that level.

  • Lindsey August 5, 2013, 12:04 pm

    Wanted to tell you about a junior mustachian: I have had back surgery and am not allowed to lift over a certain weight. A neighborhood kid came over two summers ago and asked me about my garden and asked if I needed any help. Since most of my garden, except for perennials, are in 2 foot high raised beds, I turned him down. He noticed that my compost heap was very untidy and he offered me a deal where I pay him $10 a month and he comes over a turns the heap once every other week. As part of the deal, he promised that if I kept him on from March through September, by the end of the summer he would have scavenged enough pallets to make me a three segmented compost system. He asked that in exchange I allow him to use me as a reference. We are on year 2 and he has a little business with about 15 customers, each of whom pays him $10 a month to care for their heaps. I talked to his mother recently and she said he tithes 10% to the food bank, since he does not attend church but thinks “you should help people,” keeps 10% for his own spending and banks the rest for his college fund. He is 14 years old now!! I am in awe of his drive and inventiveness and wish I had had that much forethought. So, there are young people coming up behind you, with the same ethic, MMM! (I cannot believe there are that many people who will pay to have their heaps turned!)

    • tallgirl1204 August 5, 2013, 2:25 pm

      What a great kid ! A big contrast to the college-aged kid who came by a couple of weeks ago to ask me to “sponsor” his trip to Europe. It may or may not have been a scam, but he purported to be collecting pledges to help him “continue his education.”

      All the while he talked to me, I was cleaning up mud-covered boating and camping equipment post river excursion, and also holding a conversation with a neighbor who was setting up to split a half-cord of wood.

      I’m afraid the kid didn’t get a penny from either of us. I picture that if your neighbor kid had come by, he would have noticed the work opportunity and made us a deal– I for one would have gladly parted with a $20 to have someone help me clean, dry and roll some rafts, and my neighbor surely could have used a hand stacking some split wood.

      Did your neighbor kid’s mom give you any pointers as to how to raise a kid with such an excellent work ethic?

  • WageSlave August 5, 2013, 1:54 pm

    32: Airport Shuttle Driver. $100k/year for what looks like a cushy job, nice! I always assumed that was strictly a minimum wage job. I wonder if this is something that could be done as a “work sharing” job. Say you and a friend or two act as a “single” independent contractor. Then among the two or three of you, devise a schedule and work accordingly. Of course you split the profits, but for those of us looking for post-FI job ideas, this could be something to be done part-time with a buddy or two.

    Other random ideas:

    Another comment above mentioned vending machines. A variation on that theme: ATM machines. Never done this myself, but I’ve read about people who can make decent money if you manage to deploy ATM machines in key areas.

    I don’t know if you could clear $50k/year, but what about nude model for art students? Easy “beer money” if nothing else, assuming you’re comfortable having people stare at your naked self.

    Also, another idea or variation on 40: Frugality Consultant / Personal Shopper: general personal assistant. I’ve often thought about doing this. All the mundane “domestic work” that people have to do, like paying bills and scheduling time for events, weddings, kids’ activities, etc. If your client gives you access to their accounts, you could do a lot of things such as paying bills and other paperwork from your home (also gives economies of scale, because you can knock out multiple clients’ work in the same block of time). Then you charge a premium for doing things that require your personal attention, like shuttling the kids around or whatever.

  • Giddings Plaza FI August 5, 2013, 2:24 pm

    Some of these jobs are looking pretty attractive to me! I am a project mngr (mostly for web sites, also for documentation for software), but that has lost it’s luster. This is a good reminder that there are lots of choices out there for the willing and able.

  • chibisparx August 5, 2013, 2:44 pm

    Hi, MMM,
    I just wanted to add onto your dog walker/poop scooper suggestions. My husband and I started our own pet-sitting business a little more than a year ago. As pet sitters, we go to other people’s houses for 30 or 45 minutes and visit with their pets while they are away on vacation or even if they just have a busy work day. During the holidays and vacation season, business is booming. We’ve only got it going as a side job to supplement our income from our full-time jobs, but if someone were more driven than we are, they could definitely make it a career, as many people do.

  • Pinkytoe August 5, 2013, 2:45 pm

    Under working for rich people, I read of a novel one here locally. A driving service for VIPs who consume too much alcohol and can’t afford to have their reputations smeared by getting a DWI. On being called, the owner and a secondary driver go to the venue where said person needs a ride. The owner drives that person home and the second person drives their vehicle back to their house or place of business. She is making a good income, gets to drive a lot of fancy cars and keeps another drunk driver off the road.

    • TJ August 6, 2013, 6:11 pm

      This doesn’t have to be a rich people thing. I remember reading a few years back about some college kids who offered this service. They had foldable mopeds that they would store in your trunk and drive you back to your place in your car. If I remember correctly the rate was very similar to what a taxi would cost.

      • Steven Hobbs January 4, 2019, 9:39 am

        I actually did this for a few months here in Orlando. I was stationed downtown and sometimes in the UCF area. The company was called Zingo, and the little folded scooter was a lot of fun to ride around downtown at night. I would only get 1 or 2 rides a night and didn’t make much money. If the person lived pretty far away, it would take forever to get back at 25 mph on the scooter. After a while, my girlfriend would just use my truck with the scooter in back to pick my up. Kind of dumb for two people to work for the price of one, but at least we got to hang out, and she could make sure I was safe, you know, in case of the weirdos.

  • JayBee August 5, 2013, 2:49 pm

    Did you have yoga teacher on these lists? I don’t recall.

    These days, the average training will run a teacher $5k, but it’s not worth it (most of the training is crap). It’s better to find a teacher with whom one can work-study, and any teacher worth their salt will create a way for a dedicated student-teacher.

    Anyway, when I first started out, I was working in studios and gyms and my income was about $35k/yr after expenses (independent contractor). About 3 years later, I was making about $55k after expenses because I’d expanded into private lessons and private classes (ie, a cyclists club, a local company, etc) and only took the positions at studios/gyms that paid a good amount (above $35 per class).

    I’m currently training (by work-study) a 21 yr old man who is quick as a whip and very determined. I like him a lot and he’s already looking at the business side of things. He’s written a budget for himself and started on a business plan. He’s going to do great, because he’s so determined. I’m proud to train him (work study) style. I’m also hiring him when he’s finished, because he’s that good.

    • Anjaylah April 30, 2014, 11:06 am

      Hi JayBee,
      What about the cost of certification? Is that a requirement or a sham? Is that what you mean by work study? If so, any recommendations on how much one should pay for a work study training? Thanks,

  • Christine Wilson August 5, 2013, 3:15 pm

    IT guy at the South Pole.. hah! My husband basically goes to the North Pole (Arctic Circle) for his IT job in the mining industry. Lots of interesting places you can go :) We are hoping for a warmer location for one of these gigs in the future!

  • Brandon Kowalski August 5, 2013, 3:28 pm

    I like some of these ideas. I am 2 semesters away from graduating with my Bachelors in Technology Management. I was curious how do you get into the field for #33?

  • Accidental Miser August 5, 2013, 3:52 pm

    Here’s what I did which has worked out pretty well for me… First, I did #50 and joined the Navy and went into the nuclear propulsion field. I got a great education from some of the finest instructors in the world, all while drawing a regular paycheck. When I got out of the Navy after six years, the power plants were lined up to hire me as an equipment operator at about 60k to start.

    A fully qualified equipment operator can make 100k+ with a some overtime OR you can go and get a Reactor Operator license and make 130-150k.

    It takes some work but it’s well worth the effort. I know guys with no college degrees that bring home well over six figures year in, year out with no fear of losing their jobs. If your plant happens to shutdown (as a few have recently) all the rest line up to hire you.

  • Hilary August 5, 2013, 6:07 pm

    In mining areas its not just mining companies that pay good wages. Here in Western Australia ordinary city bus drivers get between $70K and $80 for doing rostered weeks of about 40 hours. People have all sorts of reasons for not liking the job but my husband reckons its the best paying job for least hassle he’s ever had. The haters dislike the traffic, the mad customers and the mostly split shifts. My husband likes having 4 hours off in the middle of the day for appointments and just having a read and rest. He likes it all the more as the unions negotiated that any break over one hour in the middle of the day is paid as half time to make up for the inconvenience. Plus he doesn’t have office politics and its all care and no responsibility for major muck-ups. That is he must drive according to the laws and with all due care and attention but if he gets caught in a major traffic jam he is paid by the hour whether he is moving or not. If the bosses make a mistake with the sceduling, he is paid by the hour with guaranteed hours each week. The only real downside is the cost of housing here if you are new to the city.

  • isourcelife August 5, 2013, 6:20 pm

    Some of these sound like great options for additional income in post-FI/active retirement as well. Number 40 would be fun! In any case, now you have a list of jobs to refer those who choose to complain instead of looking in the mirror first.

  • Talis August 5, 2013, 6:50 pm

    ‘ve been in title insurance for 11 years. I make tens of thousands less than $50,000. In many states, my particular job can’t be done if you’re not a paralegal, so “no college degree” isn’t necessarily the case in all aspects of title insurance. The first job I held in title insurance paid quite poorly. After 3 years there, I was only making about $18K. I had to move out of state and change companies so I could finally drop my second job and work only 40 hours a week.

    • Amy August 6, 2013, 3:10 pm

      I worked in title insurance as a licensed settlement agent for years. Mr. Money Mustache I think is also forgetting that it can be difficult to garner contracts to settle from real estate agents or loan officers when many title companies will offer kickbacks. Kickbacks are not legal but it seemed to me that the people who did this were hardly ever caught or reprimanded. It made it difficult for me to do my job well because I was one of the few who would not offer kickbacks or sleep with anyone to get more contracts to close. I did enjoy being a settlement agent for those years but please don’t make it sound like an easy job because it is not. I am wondering what Mr MM finds mysterious about this job?
      Also, my current job I am a cocktail waitress at clubs in Las Vegas. I will tell you even cocktail waitresses on the casino floor make a lot of money here. These are REAL jobs here. Yes it is extremely competitive and you do have to be an attractive female but you get tips, hourly, vacation time, maternity time, etc. These jobs are also fun and come with many perks. You might be required to work nights and weekends depending on where you cocktail at in Las Vegas but if you work hard you can make BANK. I’ve heard of girls receiving tips that are the equivalent of some peoples houses.

  • Alfredo August 5, 2013, 8:55 pm

    Absolutely!!!!! Remember Cesar Millan, the dog Whisperer? Once he cured one case, the rich people network was fighting for him!!!! Set for life…

  • Jen August 5, 2013, 11:31 pm

    Organic farming is certainly possible… I’ve done several paid apprenticeships and looked through the finances of several profitable farms. It’s tricky, but can be done!

    You left off nanny and stripper!

    I think some of these pay great hourly, but it can be hard to get enough hours l


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