I first heard of The Iron Yard from a close friend who had just quit their well-paying job in healthcare administration to enter an immersive 12 week coding course to learn back-end engineering. I thought they were nuts!
My friend had a wife and 3 kids to support, and at the time he was the only salary in their family. He argued that he and his wife had planned it all out, and had saved enough for him to enter an immersive coding school for 3 months in exchange for a career shift, into something he was passionate about.
Fast forward to the end of this 3 month program, and my friend, who had absolutely no previous coding experience, landed a job at BlackBaud paying $60K per year as a back-end engineer. I was stunned! He pursued his dream, worked incredibly hard during his 3 month course, and landed a well-paying job at a great company doing something he was passionate about (Supporting non-profit organizations).
Why am I telling you this story?
- This is a perfect example of how the combination of creativity and passion can produce powerful results.
- I stand firmly behind the benefits of a technical education as the best method of securing a profitable career either as an employee or an entrepreneur.
Creativity And Passion
Everyone has been told at some point in their lives to find something you are passionate about, and pursue that. While I would agree with that advice, I believe that often leaves many of us unfilled, or without a paycheck. If your passion is graffiti, it may be difficult to find someone to pay you to do that. However, when you combine passion with creativity, all of a sudden you open up a new realm of possibilities from which to explore your passions.
Let’s take the street artist example. There are no companies you can go to work for that will pay you to paint the side of abandoned buildings. However, you could develop an online course or YouTube channel that showcases your work, and teach others how to get started in your field. You could charge on a recurring subscription model for access to your latest work, and daily tips and highlights. You could also develop physical products: brushes, design pads, paint holders, custom spray cans, etc. You can then sell these through an eCommerce store or through Amazon. With a little creativity, you can turn your passion into a profitable full-time business, or at the very least get paid to pursue your hobby! This is just one idea – we share 50 more income ideas here.
I hear too many people complain about not enjoying the work they do. My best advice to someone in this situation: Find ways to inject something you are passionate about into your current job.
If you are passionate about graphic design but work at a call center, you could design a new company logo in your free-time and send the design to your company’s marketing director. If you want to be a writer but you currently work in retail, then you could write some guest articles for your company blog, and submit them to editorial. There are endless ways to inject your passion into your current career, and who knows where it may lead!
Value Of A Technical Education
I work full-time at a technical college. We offer over 60 different certificate and degree programs in everything from welding, to real estate development, to culinary.
Our mission at the college is to drive personal and economic growth through learning. What this means is that we only offer programs and academic options that lead directly to well-paying careers. For example, 100% of our welding students are able to secure jobs in the local economy, and over 60% of them make more than $50K per year with an 18 month diploma credential. I have a number of friends with Master’s degrees who don’t make that much per year with over 10 years of experience!
Technical expertise, whether that is in welding, back-end engineering, making a killer soufflé, or driving a long-haul truck, is valued by most companies. A company wants to know that they will get value out of you when they hire you, and the more technical skills you can offer on the front end the more value they perceive they will get, and the more they are willing to pay you. This is exactly why a welder will get paid more money than a PhD working at a research facility. The immediate ROI of a welder, is much higher than a PhD working in R&D.
And others are trying to share this same message. Have you heard of Mike Rowe (host of Dirty Jobs, Ford commercials, or maybe you know him as the guy with the awesome voice)? He has a foundation called mikeroweWORKS that focuses specifically on technical jobs that don’t require going to a traditional 4 year college.
Here is the take away from my rant: If you want to maximize your earning potential and either use that to pay down your student loans, build wealth, or simply secure a better life for you and your loved one, my advice is to combine passion and creativity with a technical education and work hard!
It won’t be easy, but that combination of skills will open up any door you wish to go through whether that means landing a job at Google, or starting your own local service business. Write down your short term and long term goals, and then make a plan (Using the above mentioned components) to make it happen!
DJ works in financial services at a large public university. He lives in the Southeast with his wife and young daughter.