Is professional success based solely on your level of college education? Here is a list of people who surely would answer with an emphatic, "No." (Well, maybe one of them wouldn't. More about that in a second.) See if you recognize a couple of the names:
- Vidal Sassoon (legendary hairstylist who died in 2012; his name also became his haircare brand)
- Quentin Tarantino (Oscar winning director)
- Richard Branson (CEO of Virgin; net worth estimated at $5.1 billion)
- Jim Clark (Silicon Valley legend; founder of Netscape, Shutterfly and more)
- Robert De Niro (Actor)
- Ringo Starr (Played the drums for a band you may have heard of)
- Lady Diana Spencer (Princess of Wales prior to her death in 1997)
What do all of these people have in common? They are (or were) all multi-millionaires (at least) ... and high school dropouts. (In fairness to higher education, Jim Clark spent four years in the Navy after high school, then got bachelor's and master's degrees in physics from the University of New Orleans, and a doctorate in computer science from the University of Utah.) Their success in their respective fields of endeavor was not because of an excess amount of schooling, but came from a desire to learn and perfect what they were good at.
A recent article from the State Journal-Register out of Illinois discusses how someone can land an IT job without a college degree. The article lists steps someone who doesn’t have a degree should take to land a highly paid IT job:
- Begin with a customer service job — Sales and customer service experience will look good on an IT job resume and provide an income while you are training.
- Earn your CompTIA A+ Certification — This certification will teach you a basic knowledge of PC hardware and software, to give you a good foundation for future certifications.
- Get an entry-level help desk job — Upper level IT jobs are looking for experience, you will get that with a help desk job.
- Continue your certification training — Look to the Cisco CCNA certification, the exams are difficult, but once you pass them you can begin applying for network administrator jobs.
The list of millionaire dropouts above represents those who, despite facing failure, moved forward, learned wherever they could, and made the most of the skills and experiences they had been given. This is the mindset any aspiring IT professional should have. Follow the steps outlined above, and you will find a good work ethic and great monetary success.
About the Author — Jake Slater is the social media manager for GoCertify and a graduate of Brigham Young University. He did not drop out of high school, but nevertheless intends to earn his first $1 million be the end of 2016.