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Web developer: Earn $60,000 a year - without college degree or debt

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 21st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It looks like computer nerds are having the last laugh - on all of us. Make $30 an hour, no bachelor's degree required - as a web developer. Rapidly developing, this career offers a median salary around $30 an hour, or $62,500 a year, and doesn't require a bachelor's degree. Companies can't meet all the demand for workers with a job still too new. The labor pool is not quite large enough yet.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "There aren't enough bodies to fill all the seats," Judi Wunderlich, co-founder of WunderLand says. WunderLand is a Chicago recruiting firm specializing in digital, marketing and creative jobs.

Computer-related jobs are expected to grow by about 22 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Traditional college programs can hardly keep up with the demand for web and mobile developers. Even though many schools offer computer science courses, the field is changes rapidly, and as such, the curriculum is rarely the same from year to year. "If somebody wants to get into this job, it just doesn't make sense to get a college degree," Wunderlich said.

About 38 percent of Web developers two years ago had less than a four-year college degree, according to Census data. Many workers in this field are self-taught.

"Nobody really cares about your education in this field -- it's can you do it, or can you not?" Matt Kenefick says. He started coding chiefly as a hobby before going professional, and now at age 25, he's earning more than six figures. "Now, when I interview people and they list schooling on their resume, instead I ask, 'show me what you've done.'"

For beginners attracted to this field, some online programs like Codeacademy offer free training. Intensive training programs, which can cost several thousand dollars, are now appearing in major cities.

There's also the tried-and-true by the bootstraps way. Chris Lemke was driving trucks for a living, when he picked up two books on building mobile apps, back in December 2011.

"I liked math and decided to give it a whirl," he said. "A month or two later, I had a tipping calculator in the App Store."

The 29-year-old Lemke scored an apprenticeship with VOKAL Interactive, and is learning the rest on the job.

The job is not for everyone. It still requires some math chops and long hours of practice.

Among other jobs that pay well that require little to no college are the positions of plumber, electrician, and paralegal and industrial machine repairer.

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