What if you let go of the assumption that you have to work for $40,000 a year because that is all you can earn in your field? What if, for even just a moment, you allowed yourself to think outside the box? I am going to ask you to open your mind and consider jobs in other industries you’re not specifically trained for. I am going to ask you to think like a rebel.

When I left the film industry and took a job with a hedge fund in Singapore, my entire world view of my debt shifted. I now had enough money to pay off my debt, AND enough to live a life with frills–like a house cleaner, a fitness coach, and regular excursion to exotic places all over the world.

six figure job

I can hear you screaming, “But I am an artist. I don’t want to work for a corporation. I want to do my art!”

Are you doing your art now? Or are you too stressed out worrying about money? Are you working two to three jobs just to get by, making paltry payments on a continuously growing debt, and dabbling in your art every third Sunday when you have a few hours free?

I promise you, a six-figure career and doing art are not mutually exclusive. While working at the hedge fund, I hire writing coaches to keep me on track with scriptwriting.  And I even won a script award recently.

Let’s start with research. We want to get you thinking about jobs that really bring in money. Let’s look at careers with the best Return on Investment (ROI). In 2016, Fortune Magazine did an article on graduate degrees with the best and worst ROI. They ran numbers with PayScale analysts, considering factors such as Long-Term outlook for job growth (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest Employment Projects data from 2014-2024), median pay at 10 or more years of experience, and job satisfaction rates. Of course, the arts were some of the lowest-paying careers, but we already knew that. Here’s the list of the best 15 grad degrees for ROI in 2016:

  1. Master’s, Biostatistics
  2. Master’s, Statistics
  3. Ph.D., Computer Science
  4. Ph.D., Economics
  5. Master’s, Applied Mathematics
  6. Master’s, Computer Science
  7. Ph.D., Pharmacy
  8. Ph.D., Mathematics
  9. Ph.D., Physics
  10. Master’s, SoftwareEngineering
  11. Ph.D., Physical Chemistry
  12. Master’s, Information Systems
  13. Master’s, Physician Assistant Studies
  14. MBA, Management Information Systems
  15. Ph.D., Political Science

The highest median salary from the above list (which is again, 10 years of working experience) is $147,400 (Ph.D., Computer Science) and $137,800 (Ph.D., Mathematics) and the lowest median salary from the above list is $103,600 (Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies).

As you think like a rebel, you’ll start looking at research like this with new eyes. This is THE way out of debt. Follow the money. But how can you get such jobs without going back to school, getting yet another degree, and going further into debt?

Here’s how:

I want you to go to a job site, and search for three jobs or companies you want to work for. Make a list. Even if you do not have all of the listed qualifications, if the organization or the job interests you, add it to the list.

Let’s say I am interested in entering the field of security. I currently have an arts degree (stop laughing, I can hear you). Upon researching, I find a job posting for a position called INTELLIGENCE ANALYST SR for the US Postal Service. I read the “Desirable Qualifications” section first:

  • A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in statistics, computer science, digital forensics, engineering, IT, or Finance.  DO NOT HAVE.
  • Experience with link analysis in utilizing IBM I2 Analyst Notebook, Microsoft VISIO, or equivalent visualization platform. I CAN PROBABLY FIGURE THIS OUT.
  • Ability to apply analysis using software tools such as MS Excel. I CAN DEFINITELY DO THIS.
  • Experience in providing presentations to various levels of leadership and audiences. SURE.

I read the job responsibilities. The role involves collaborating with field managers in the collection, evaluation, and reporting of intelligence data (sounds very James Bond, I like this), providing direction to field units on data collection, and monitoring investigative analyst programs. There is more but these are the main takeaways.

So, what does my actual work experience look like?

  • Executive Assistant at a Hedge Fund
  • Film Production Management
  • Teaching assistant at college

The next thing we are going to do is spin my existing experience into making me an ideal candidate for this role. Let’s revisit the job requirements.

  • A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in statistics, computer science, digital forensics, engineering, IT, or finance.  I studied International Business and Psychology in undergrad. I took finance and accounting courses for the business degree, and I designed experiments and studied the results for my psychology degree. Sure, it was eleven years ago but…close enough.
  • Experience with link analysis in utilizing IBM I2 Analyst Notebook, Microsoft VISIO, or equivalent visualization platform. I have no idea what any of these things are. I go to UDEMY.COM, a popular website for free/cheap online courses and do a search for “data visualization”. I find a course for $25, which takes 2 hours and 17 minutes to complete. It comes with a certificate of completion. I read the reviews; people mention coming out of the course with charts they can use for their portfolio. Great! I sign up.

I next go to UPWORK.COM, a website for posting and hiring people to complete work online. I do a posting for the creation of a data visualization portfolio. I would like it to have two  comprehensive visual data spreads with notes on interpretation. I offer $250 for anyone who can complete this in five days. Within an hour I have some interested applicants who submit past work. I pick the most impressive one, google “sample data sets” and find a site called DATASETS. This lists TONS of data sets for tons of different subjects, from “Internet Usage Per Minute” to “Survival Passengers on the Titanic”, to “Locations of Earthquakes off Fiji”. I find a few that that sounds most relevant to this job, “Data from Simulated Motorcycle Accident” and “Food Stamp Program Participation”. I download the data sets and send them to my UPWORK hires, telling them to get to work on Microsoft Visio or IBM I2 Analyst Notebook if they have it.

After I watch the Udemy video and create my charts, I start writing about my experiences with management and presentation giving. I draft my cover letter and update my resume to highlight these experiences.

Five days later I send the US Postal Service a polished resume with a glowing cover that reassures the reader of my competence, leadership abilities, and presentation skills; along with my complete data visualization portfolio. I send these items to BOTH the email address listing on the job posting and to the Director of Intelligence, whose name I find on Linkedin.

The job’s annual salary is listed as $60-100K. A $100K job may sound like a lot of money, but it’s not – especially for fields like statistics and big data. Trust me, the really experienced person you’re worried you’ll be competing against already works somewhere else for $160K.

Try this resource for more tips on landing a six-figure job without experience. http://landanyjobyouwant.com/case-study-how-nick-got-his-dream-job-and-a-six-figure-salary-without-the-right-experience/

Now, go ahead give this method a go. Just try it. What do you have to lose?

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