In Just Weeks You Could Be Bringing in $55K Without a College Degree

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The U.S. government has pledged to spend $1 trillion to upgrade the infrastructure of the country, which will translate to 1 million jobs.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act aims to repair or replace roads and bridges, expand broadband coverage and improve transportation and water safety.

That is the promise of a lot of work.

The reality is that trucking, construction, warehousing, energy and transportation jobs are available NOW, and contractors are having trouble fill them. No college degree is needed. In some cases, workers need to acquire certification, which can be done at community colleges. In other cases, there is no certification or education needed, just a willingness to learn on the job and a few weeks to get trained.

For example, a full-time truck driver averages more than $70,000 a year and it takes just two weeks to get a license to drive a big rig.

Depending on the level of difficulty in performing the infrastructure job, you are likely to make at least $30,000 annually. In the cases of cross-country trucking, project management or engineering, you can earn six figures based on your experience.

Infrastructure Jobs Open Now

This article will look at jobs in trucking, construction, transportation and energy that pay well and do not require a college degree. They often do involve training and apprenticeship, but those are paid positions as well.

Let’s begin with the most storied of infrastructure jobs: being a truck driver.

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How to Be a Truck Driver

According to Business Insider, there is a shortage of 80,000 truck drivers in the United States, and that was before the Infrastructure and Jobs Act was passed.

Trucking jobs are not just cross-country assignments. There are trucks that are loaded and unloaded in local deliveries; those cross-country trucks do not stop at every warehouse along the way.

The average salary for a full-time trucker is over $73,000, according to Indeed. If the trucker owns his own truck (known as an owner-operator), the average annual salary approaches $300,000. Some trucking jobs are hourly instead of salaried, but hourly drivers are also paid extra depending on how many miles they drive.

Getting a Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL) takes about two weeks. Drivers can get training for delivery jobs often by driving for a couple of weeks with another trucker. You can be making money as a trucker in about one month.

You will need to go to a school to get a CDL license, because part of your training requires you to get behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler. The fee for a CDL license class varies between $3,000 and $10,000. Your state’s motor vehicles division website can lead you to classes in your state and the fees you can anticipate.

In addition, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has details on how to obtain a CDL license.

Your preferred job board is loaded with trucking jobs. Decide whether you want to be local or cross-country and hit the road!

Jobs in Warehousing

All of those trucks that deliver goods drop off their packages at warehouses, which then distribute the goods with other trucks delivering to other warehouses. Someone has to load and unload those trucks, and that could be you.

Amazon, FedEx, UPS — these companies need warehousing employees immediately. If there is a distribution center near you (and with Amazon, that’s likely the case), apply today.

Another idea for warehousing jobs is any company that delivers products, such as hardware stores and construction companies. All of their products and materials are housed in warehouses, and all of those warehouses need people to move those materials from trucks and onto trucks.

A material handler (that is what you would be called) can make up to $31,000 annually, and if you are full time, you have benefits available to you.

The other positive aspect of warehousing jobs is that there is available upper mobility. You can be lifting crates one day and could find yourself in line for an inventory control job or warehouse manager. According to ZipRecruiter, an inventory control manager can make up to $70,000 a year, and a warehouse manager can make $60,000 annually.

Not into heavy lifting? Warehouses also hire clerks, who process orders and keep track of incoming and outgoing materials and products.

We tallied nearly 1 million open jobs in anticipation of the 2021 holidays. However, many of the jobs are year-round, including warehouse positions with Amazon. 

Employment in Construction Field

There is going to be a lot of building being done, and there are thousands of construction jobs listed on job websites. There will be more as the government money gets handed out.

One of the big needs is for heavy-equipment operators, including people who can operate cranes, earth movers, bulldozers, dump trucks, and more.

There is the infrastructure work that will need to be done on buildings. This would include welders, pipe-fitters, plumbers and iron workers, among other titles.

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You can find vocational training at community colleges and also private facilities. In general, community college programs will be less expensive.

Associated Training Services in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, is one of hundreds of private schools across the country providing training and certification in heavy equipment operation.

ATS programs cost between $1,000 and $8,000 and they have housing facilities. How eager are they to train folks and get them into the field? Anyone who starts a program before Dec. 31, 2021, can apply for free housing.

Variety of Jobs

Construction jobs fall under three general categories; upper management, middle management and construction workers. Upper management jobs are concerned with planning and costs, middle management handles the day-to-day operations of a job, and construction workers handle the actual physical labor.

There are two types of construction workers: those who are trained or certified in one area of expertise, and those who perform general labor.

There are steps to take before you decide which type of construction job you want to apply for.

  • Choose a field. Construction includes working with building materials, but it also includes carpentry and plumbing. Pick one you think would be best. Even though you have no precise experience in construction work, you have likely fixed something in your home or apartment at some point.
  • Consider an apprenticeship. This is usually a paid position that includes hands-on training and will eventually lead to a certification, which can then turn your immediate need for a job into a career.
  • Create a construction-focused resume. Your previous resume may have been aimed at an office job, and you are ready to move into a construction job. Consider the skills you have that would be appropriate for a manual labor position, such as work ethic, physical strength, attention to detail, or willingness to work with others.
  • Focus your search terms. If you have no experience, “general laborer” will get you all of the possibilities that exist.  If you are looking for a specific type of construction job, be specific in your search term.

Like warehouses, construction companies need office employees as well. With all of the new work that is likely to come in, construction firms are going to need office workers who can help keep track of jobs, scheduling and materials. A search for “construction office” will get you a job that includes in-office work rather than on-site work.

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Jobs in Public Transportation

The role of transportation in the infrastructure bill relates almost entirely to public transportation. The intention is to invest in public transportation in terms of the safety, reliability and modernization of subways and busses, as well as a massive investment in passenger rail service.

While transportation services offer many entry-level jobs for recent college grads, they also offer jobs to those without a college degree. Often, these jobs involve repairing tracks (in the case of rail transport) or maintaining ports or stations.

The median salary for a signal track repairer is $70,000. These are “learn-on-the-job” positions. If your resume suggests that you are good with your hands, and enjoy outdoor work, you are a good candidate. More information about job prospects in the railway field.

Union Pacific railroad is looking for workers with a couple of years of welding experience to join its team of track laborers. It’s tough, sweaty work that pays $28 an hour plus benefits. UP has a handy graphic that shows the types of jobs that tracker laborers can move on to, including field manager and track inspector. UP’s openings page shows the breadth of jobs available.

Other Jobs in Transportation

Transportation services also require security and policing personnel. These are people who make sure travelers are civil toward each other, and look out for suspicious or dangerous situations in stations or at stops. These jobs do not require a college degree, and have a median annual wage of $74,000.

For a job seeker, you need to visit the websites of your local public transit companies and look under the “jobs’’ tab. Many of the jobs you will find will relate to topics above, such as drivers and construction. But public transit companies are also looking for transportation planning assistance, which can include mapping and scheduling

As indicated by the featured jobs on transittalent.com, public transportation companies are already in search for managers. In order for public transit to be safe and accessible, there is a great need for skilled managers, and the people who work for the management department. While these jobs may require a college degree, they are growth positions that may allow you to improve your employment situation faster than your current workplace.

Work in the Energy Field

One way the new infrastructure bill is unique to previous infrastructure expenditures is the amount of money that is going to be directed to energy conservation, transmission and safety.

There are initiatives aimed at clean drinking water and the infrastructure for handling waste water, renewable energy and clean energy resources, converting gas-operated systems into electrical systems, and the need for 21st century electric and electronic grid so that our electrical power is safe from terrorist efforts.

The push for “green’’ energy sources requires thousands of hands to install new equipment. Two areas expected to grow:

  • Solar installation. Whether you want to work on a solar farm on the outskirts of an urban area, or want to install solar panels on existing structures that want to convert from gas or electric power sources, you do not need a college degree to get a job in this field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a sharp increase in demand for solar photovoltaic installers over the next demand with salaries nearing $50,000 a year. Training is on the job.
  • Wind turbines. Wind turbines are installed in open areas where wind flows freely, but urban areas are able to acquire power from those turbines sitting on the outskirts of town. Turbine installer jobs do not require college degrees, either. The BLS predicts a 68% increase in wind turbine service technician jobs over the next 10 years. The median income in 2020 was $56,260.

Ziprecruiter estimates the average energy infrastructure job pays $122,000 annually, which you can work your way up to with some experience. The most popular energy infrastructure job listings on Ziprecruiter include management, technology, project handling, and engineering. If you have a background in any of those areas, a job search for “energy infrastructure” can lead you to a desired position.

But until then, know that there are lots of jobs available now. And it only takes a matter of weeks to get your truck driver’s license.

Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.