Quick ways to get training for a ‘livable wage’ job

by Grace

What are some relatively short (2-6 months) courses i can take to become certified in something that provides a livable wage?

A Reddit poster asked this question, and here are the top responses as of June 17.

  1. Welding.
  2. Hairstylist / Massage therapy, nail tech, aesthetician. / Culinary degree.
  3. CPR instructor
  4. forklift operator
  5. GCODE, etc
  6. TEFL certificate
  7. Phlebotomy
  8. deal table games like blackjack and roulette
  9. driving semi trucks
  10. HVAC-R

Not all these suggestions may sound appealing, but some of them do seem worthy of further exploration.  In looking at comments on the TEFL certificate idea, it appears that a college degree is almost always a prerequisite.

Related to suggestion #5 is the newly announced NanoDegree.

A Smart Way to Skip College in Pursuit of a Job

Udacity-AT&T ‘NanoDegree’ Offers an Entry-Level Approach to College

This week, AT&T and Udacity, the online education company founded by the Stanford professor and former Google engineering whiz Sebastian Thrun, announced something meant to be very small: the “NanoDegree.”

At first blush, it doesn’t appear like much. For $200 a month, it is intended to teach anyone with a mastery of high school math the kind of basic programming skills needed to qualify for an entry-level position at AT&T as a data analyst, iOS applications designer or the like.

This is another quick way to qualify for a “livable wage”.

… offering a narrow set of skills that can be clearly applied to a job, providing learners with a bite-size chunk of knowledge and an immediate motivation to acquire it.

It may not offer all the advantages of a liberal arts education, but it could offer a plausible path to young men and women who may not have the time, money or skill to make it through a four-year or even a two-year degree.

AT&T will accept the NanoDegree as a credential for entry-level jobs (and is hoping to persuade other companies to accept it, too) and has reserved 100 internship slots for its graduates. Udacity is also creating NanoDegrees with other companies.

The hardest part is finding the motivation and persistence to follow through.  All these options require a motivated person willing to put in the hours needed to obtain the skills and certification.  The short time span is an advantage here, certainly compared to the four-plus years needed for a bachelor’s degree.

Another challenge is to avoid taking on crippling student loan debt, so students must be careful about choosing schools that offer a good value.

Related:  “Should we go back to more vocational high school options?” (Cost of College)


Eduardo Porter, “A Smart Way to Skip College in Pursuit of a Job”, New York Times, June  17, 2014.

3 Comments to “Quick ways to get training for a ‘livable wage’ job”

  1. I have a lot of concerns about those quickie “code academies”. The last time I saw people being hired to “code” without a college degree was during the Internet bubble of the 90’s. Those were the very people whose jobs got outsourced to India after the crash, because they were very lowlevel, routine jobs. I don’t think I would hang a career on a code academy. It might work if the person then took the effort to get their college degree. When I was working in industry, I did not see anyone with a successful career in software development who didn’t have a degree – and the majority had their masters degree.


  2. I also have a friend whose son, a college dropout (ADHD), went through one of those phlebotomist training courses. He was not able to find a job in that field when he finished. Everyone wanted experience. This was in CA, so perhaps it was a local thing.


  3. Those coding jobs, based on the reddit discussion and the NanoDegree article, are definitely low level.

    From you friend’s son and his experience with phlebotomist training, it’s clear that students should research job opportunities carefully before training. I suspect the training centers may not always be the most accurate source for that, so it can be tricky.

    Job Outlook
    Employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 27 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers, and other locations will need phlebotomists to perform blood work.


    I’m sure it varies among locations.


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