Smart Career Options: Specialized Skills (part 2)

Home Depot cashier

While considering recession-resistant career options, there are some key rules to remember. The first key to a good paying job is to differentiate yourself by learning specialized skills. How should you go about this?

The main reason cashiers and retail make low wages
Have you ever wondered why many cashiers and retail workers make below poverty wages? I’m not debating on why this is right or wrong here (that’s a topic for another post!). But it’s useful to understand why. You don’t want to find yourself or your kids stuck on this poverty path if you can help it.

Low skilled = easily replaceable = low wages
These hourly jobs pay low wages simply because the workers are low-skilled and easily replaceable. They don’t need any special skills or talents for the job. In short, anyone can do it.

Job shortages make low-skilled workers even more replaceable
If they leave or get fired, it’s only a matter of days, or even hours, before they train someone else as a replacement. This is especially true with our current shortage of jobs. There are many desperate people willing to take any job that comes their way.

Acquire high-level skills (that are in demand)
For most high paying jobs, you’ll need to acquire skills that are specialized, most people don’t have, and in demand. The in-demand part is where it gets tricky in this new economy. Something that seems important and specialized today suddenly may not be next year — especially when businesses aren’t doing well or budgets need to be cut.

A higher barrier to entry usually means higher pay
Do you ever wonder why you must pass tests to practice certain professions? This ranges anywhere from a 75 hour online course and passing an easy real estate or life insurance exam, to years of apprenticeships to get certified. There’s a reason why CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) make a much higher average salary than accountants without this certification.

Is it really this easy, or is there a catch?
It’s not as easy as it used to be. A college education used to practically guarantee you a good job, but the game’s changed. That’s why you need to learn how to navigate this new world economy to come out on top.

In the next post, I’ll discuss why college can still be useful, and instances where it’s not.

Photo via Flickr user jshj

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