Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
“What do you do that you earn six figures? It seems like a lot of people make a lot of money and it seems like I’m missing out on something. So those of you that do, whats your occupation that pays so well?”
Reddit user fidgit86 posed this question to r/financialindependence, a subreddit devoted to “people who are or want to become financially independent.” It’s a question that many of our Entrepreneur readers have, as well, because while the goal is typically to be able to quit your 9 to 5 job and focus full-time on your side hustle or entrepreneurial activities, starting a business rarely comes cheap. Heck, just living and paying bills is difficult enough.
A high-paying job can lower your financial burden and potentially free your mind a little to start focusing on your future endeavors. Many of the responses were predictable: doctor, lawyer, salesperson, engineer. The eight professions below, however, might surprise you. If you feel underpaid or have decided to look for a new career while you flesh out that next big business idea, these Reddit responses may inspire you to consider an industry you never thought about before.
1. HVAC maintenance
The top reply to the question came from u/Spreadburger, who wrote, “I fix broken air conditioners. But the ones for skyscrapers and hospitals.”
When another user asked how to get into that field, u/Cecondo answered, “recommend working for someone you know who owns their own hvac company while applying for your UA local. Once you finish the UA’s training program, you are golden. You can just about coast on any union service company like Johnson Controls until you get bored of your work in 40 years or see a consulting/director gig open up at a non-union company or institution. I know people in every level of HVAC and they all started in the UA or sucked for a few years as lowest man at a company until they landed a cush job.”
2. Tech (emotional) support
Ever felt like complaining to someone about that piece of tech at your office that you hate? Well, u/starmastery says they are that someone. “I have a very niche skill set with a specific software made by a company I used to work for and was hired by a company that uses a completely different software that my previous employer also made. My days consist of one or two meetings where people complain about the software, I validate their feelings by agreeing with them, and they seem satisfied. I have no idea what I am doing and am waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
3. Traveling nurse
Nurses have a wide range of income, but u/monsteez says, “A friend left my job where I can make x-amount to do travel nursing that can make 1x-4x depending on how many contracts he does (less contracts = more months off) and if covid surge pay is happening.”
Fellow user u/thelostgeologist chimed in to say, “I know a traveling nurse that made 150k last year” while another user said, “A coworker of mine took a traveling contract during the height of the pandemic that paid $7000/week plus living expenses. The contract was 12 weeks and they renewed it for another 8 after. Dude made $140k in 5 months and then came back. Travelers make bank, it’s nuts.”
You’ve probably heard that truck drivers can make a considerable amount of money, but have you ever thought about tow truckers? User eekawi writes, “I drive a tow truck in metro Atlanta and clean up wrecks on I-285 & I-75. It’s a lot of hours and being on call sucks especially working nights. But I’m at $100k so far this year. It’ll be my best year yet. Hope to finish the year around $160k.”
5. Elevator mechanic
Are you ready for the dad joke? Because u/Asklepios24 writes, the job ”has its ups and downs. Also I walk a lot of stairs” before telling those interested in the trade to “visit NEIEP and see when there is a recruitment near you, CEIEP for those in Canada. Also check out r/elevators for more info.”
6. Sustainability consulting
If you have a background in environmental science like u/MaEnv, sustainability consulting might be an option. When asked how they entered the field, they write, “Volunteered with some nonprofits, had a couple of environmental and sustainability focused internships, then worked at an analytics firm focusing on corporate sustainability before jumping to a consulting firm.”
Fellow user petethefreeze mentioned, ”Jacobs Engineering and PA Consulting Group are hiring like crazy in this field. Go look them up.”
7. High-voltage lineman
Multiple users chimed in that they worked as lineman. When asked how to enter that line of work, union apprentice lineman u/DrowsyMocha wrote, “Go to your local union and sign the groundman books ASAP, depending on experience it could take a while to get called but when you get called you will typically go in that morning or the next day. Get your class A cdl ASAP, you will need it so sooner the better. If you have absolutely zero experience with tools/construction/manual labor, look into lineman college. NLC cost around 20k but if you’re serious about the trade and work as much as you can you will pay it off within a year.”
8. Automotive collision repair
According to u/Character_AD_9794, there’s currently a huge shortage of auto collision repair experts in the industry. They write, “I have been in the industry for almost 15 years, did 2 years of trade school and was working in the industry in my first few months of school. There’s multiple positions that make over $100k both in the shop and in the office and there is tons of related, off-shoot positions that pay well also. PDR techs make great money for example. Usually takes about 2 years of really hard work to get anywhere but if you work hard and can treat people around you with respect you can be make a good living without a degree after that. Highly recommend it.”
As always, there’s more than one way to earn six figures. Finding an industry and career that fit your needs and skill set can help you earn the financial independence you need to start your own business.