There are some careers that don't require a college degree - just passion, experience and training. Among them:
- Court reporters: You know the person who sits up near the judge and taps away on the little keyboard during a trial? That's the court reporter, who transcribes everything that is said in a courtroom. It's a job that requires a high school diploma, a clean record, a 1- to 3-year course in court reporting from a community college or vocational school, and a license. The requirements for the license vary by state. Court reporters must be notary publics in some states. Others require a certification exam. Average salaries in 2008 were between $35,000 and $67,000.
- Fitness trainers: Whether it's a private yoga instructor, spin class leader or the well-muscled trainer who spots you at the gym, the fitness training profession is growing rapidly. Most gyms and fitness venues require some degree of certification, either in a specific area - 200 hours of Pilates training, for example, 200 hours of intensive yoga instruction, or fitness certification. Requirements can vary so dramatically, it's best to check with potential employers in your area first. Most certification programs require a high school diploma, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification, and a written and hands-on exam that covers human physiology as well as fitness assessment and technique. Salaries can vary dramatically, with the average running $20,000-$44,000 per year. Very successful, self-employed, private instructors earn more.
- Translators: We tend to think of translators in the context of, say, the United Nations. But these days, interpreters and translators are needed in hospitals, businesses, the courts, government, and also in schools, where they may be called upon to translate for parents. The job requires fluency in at least two languages, of course. Some jobs require a bachelor's degree or specialized training - medical translation, for example, requires facility with medical terminology as well as language skills. The average salary in 2008 was between $29,000 and $52,000 per year.
- Paramedics and EMTs: A high school diploma - plus ambition, passion and dedication - is all that's required to get into an EMT or paramedic program, an intensive emergency medical technician training and certification program offered by community colleges and vocational schools. These courses of study are offered in EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate, and Paramedic. Every state requires a licensing exam, which includes written and hands-on components. Average salaries in 2008 ranged from $22,000 to $36,000 per year.
- Truck drivers: These jobs are all about driving proficiency, including expertise in driving oversized or very heavy loads. Anyone driving a truck that weighs more than 26,001 pounds, or carries hazardous materials or oversized loads needs a commercial driver’s license. Training for that license is offered through a variety of trade schools. Salaries depend on the type of truck and employer. A typical heavy truck or tractor-trailer driver earned $14-$22 per hour (or $28,000-$44,000 per year) in 2008, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Delivery truck drivers earned less, about $10-$18 per hour ($20,000-$36,000 per year). Long haul drivers are usually paid by the mile, and some - including owner-operators - get a slice of the shipping revenue as well.
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