20 Great Second Careers That Don't Require More School


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If you're on the fence about a career change, consider this: 87 percent of career changers say they're happy they made the leap, and 65 percent report less stress, according to the American Institute for Economic Research. And while it always makes sense to mine your existing skillset, if you're pining for a fresh start, there are plenty of jobs that don't require more formal schooling (though some may require certification courses or on-the-job training). Here are 20 great second careers that won't require you to hit the books too hard. The salary figures come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Happy real estate agent in front of home with buyers in background
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Average annual salary: $59,360
You won't need more formal schooling to help others buy and sell their homes, but in most states, you need to take a pre-licensing course and a licensing exam to get started, according to Realtor.com. Once you're official, joining a brokerage that is welcoming new agents is an essential step, but take note: You'll probably be paid by commission only, so get out there and sell, sell, sell.

Smiling school bus driver sitting on the bus
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Average annual salary: $31,110
Like kids? Does having the summer off sound appealing? Many districts are constantly searching for reliable drivers. The first step will be getting a commercial driver's license with a special school-bus endorsement, a process that requires you to pass a written exam, road test, and medical exam, according to DMV.org. A clean driving history is also a must. School districts will also likely require a background check.

Portrait of smiling female librarian with trolley of books in library
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Average annual salary: $34,780
A good library technician is essentially a librarian's right-hand (wo)man: You'll help patrons find materials, catalogue materials, retrieve online reference information, and perform other duties as assigned, according to the American Library Association. While some libraries look for specialized schooling, many are open to on-the-job training, the ALA says.

Happy young couple discussing with a financial agent their new investment
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Average annual salary: $67,760
No special degree is required to sell insurance, but you will have to check on your state's specific requirements. As with real estate, a training course and licensing exam will be required. After that, job seekers will need to highlight their entrepreneurial spirit to snag their first job with an insurance company, Investopedia advises. One more thing: You're likely working on commission, not guaranteed salary.

Gym woman exercising with her personal trainer
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Average annual salary: $42,780
If you're a people person who's passionate about fitness, personal training can be an ideal second career. To get started, you'll need to get certified through an accredited program: Well-known options include the American Council on Exercise and the National Academy of Sports Medicine, according to VeryWell. After that, you'll need to decide whether you want to work at an established gym or studio, or go it alone building your own client base.

Mailman delivering letters to a woman
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Average annual salary: $50,610
You don't need any school beyond a high-school diploma to become a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. What you do need: A safe driving record, as well as a background check, drug screening, and medical exam. Selected applicants will be invited to take an aptitude test that helps identify whether you have the skills you'll need on the job.

Portrait of young female florist with red tulips looking at camera
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Average annual salary: $27,610
Got an eye for color and texture? Love fresh flowers? Floral designers who construct artful bouquets and other arrangements typically learn their trade via on-the-job training such as an apprenticeship, according to The Art Career Project. However, completing a certificate program or earning an associate's degree in floral design may help you advance more quickly, especially if you'd like to open your own floral business.

Picture of happy positive senior and African American caregiver
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Average annual salary: $23,600
If you'd love to help people with special medical needs but don't want to take on nursing school or specialized training for similar roles, consider becoming a home health aide. You'll work with seniors, the disabled, and others who need assistance in their day-to-day life. Training typically takes place on the job, but you'll also need state certification to work with agencies that take Medicare and Medicaid, according to Learn.org.

Friendly businessman wearing glasses sitting at his desk in the office looking at the camera with a smile
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Average annual salary: $76,260
Many loan officers have a bachelor's in business, finance, or another related field. However, others simply work their way up by taking a position in banking and learning the ropes, according to Study.com. You'll also need to sit for the mortgage loan originator exam in your state. Further specialized certification is optional, but may help with advancement.

Portrait of confident female accountant writing on documents at desk in office
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Average annual salary: $40,220
If you're detail-oriented and comfortable with math, consider becoming a bookkeeper who helps companies keep their finances in order. Bookkeepers usually learn their trade on the job under a more experienced colleague, but ultimately earn a certification after a couple of years' experience, according to Study.com. Opportunities for further specialization in certain industries such as healthcare are available later on, too.

Happy Indian woman working in an office
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Average annual salary: $51,260
Lucky enough to be bilingual? Consider a career as a translator. Though a bachelor's degree is usually expected by prospective employers, if you already have one, it doesn't have to be language-specific, according to Learn.org. However, prospective translators do need to get certified through an organization such as the American Translators Association.

Financial advisor talking to a senior couple at home
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Average annual salary: $45,340
No, you don't have to have a math degree, and you don't have to be an accountant to help people file their taxes -- though being comfortable with numbers is an obvious pro. According to How to Become, you'll typically need to take a training course offered by a tax-prep company, and apply for a Preparer Tax Identification Number from the IRS. To file more than basic returns, you'll need to become an "enrolled agent," which involves an exam and tax-history compliance check.

Mature business woman working in her office
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Average annual salary: $73,160
Writing is a flexible and wide-ranging field where experience is key. Technical writers -- those who write instruction manuals, training documents, and other specialized technical materials -- are always in demand. While a bachelor's is preferred, you can bolster any educational experience with a technical writing certificate.

Young man working in a call center
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Average annual salary: $53,100
If you're comfortable with technology and like helping others, a career as a computer user support specialist -- someone who helps others work through computer problems -- could be a good bet. As Kiplinger notes, experience counts much more than a college degree in this field. Certifications for various skills such as desktop support can be obtained online.

Portrait of beautiful young woman doing the warrior pose during yoga class
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Average annual salary: $43,150
Got a passion for yoga? Gardening? Cooking? If you have deep experience in a non-academic subject that others want to learn, you can make a good living teaching them. As Kiplinger notes, self-enrichment teaching is especially popular among retirees who aren't ready to hang up their hat completely. In some formal settings (for instance, teaching dance at a dance academy), you may be required to hold certain certifications or demonstrate your expertise.

African American bus driver smiling at camera
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Average annual salary: $43,590
If the open road feels like home, driving a truck could be your ideal second career. Forbes notes that it's increasingly common for new drivers to be over age 50. You won't need a special degree to get started. What you will need is a commercial driver's license, and training is offered by trucking lines and many for-profit schools or community colleges. But Forbes cautions that entry-level drivers are often tasked with the longest hauls.

Happy woman working as a professional receptionist in a hotel
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Average annual salary: $31,440
If friends always come to you for a restaurant recommendation or help deciding on the best dry cleaner, you might be a natural as a concierge for hotel or resort guests. Intimate knowledge of your city and prior experience in hospitality are key to landing this job, which typically doesn't require a specific degree, according to Learn.org. A certificate in a related hospitality field may help.

Tourist group having guided Segway city tour
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Average annual salary: $28,100
A friendly demeanor and a love of history and geography are essentials for tour guides, who can receive their training on the job instead of through formal schooling. But as Learn.org notes, you'll need to get licensed to work in certain popular destinations, including Washington, D.C., and New York City. Some employers may also run a formal training program.

Young practitioner doctor working at the clinic reception desk
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Average annual salary: $41,460
If you're ultra-organized and discreet, a job managing health records could be an appealing career path. Though some employers will want to see an associate's degree in health information management, completing a certificate program may be enough to get your foot in the door, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Smiling senior receptionist sitting at the front desk
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Average annual salary: $29,120
If you consider yourself an ultra-organized people person, there are plenty of openings for receptionists -- the field is projected to grow by nearly 25 percent by 2020, according to Salary.com. While most employers won't require any additional formal education beyond high school, completing a certificate program at a vocational school or seeking specific training in common office software can make you a more attractive candidate.

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