4 Cool Careers That Don’t Take Years of Training

A few years ago, I wanted to start over with my career. I’d been in public relations off and on for over 25 years. When my oldest child left home, I had more time to devote to building my career, but I just couldn’t get jazzed about cranking up my PR consultancy.

I have changed over the years. My interests and values have shifted. I loved working in public relations when I was younger and childless. I got to travel, work with celebrities and fashion, live in New York, and meet all kinds of interesting people.

As the years passed by, these things didn’t mean as much to me anymore. I knew something was missing in my work life, but I didn’t know what career would be rewarding and fulfilling for me.

I was also scared that I was too old to change careers or to start over with something new that would take years of education.

During this time, I did a lot of research on various career options. I started by taking a Myers Briggs test to see a list of careers that matched my personality type.

This was helpful as it reinforced my natural abilities and interests in personal development, helping others, writing, and communication.

Ultimately, I went back to school to become certified as a personal and career coach. (I will write about how to become a coach in a future post.)

What I also discovered is that there are some wonderful careers out there that don’t require years and years of additional training but allow you to build on the professional experience and education you already possess. My coach training and certification took just over a year, and I was able to take classes from home.

If you are mulling around the idea of starting over with your career, I want to share four very cool careers that I came across in my research. These are careers that don’t take years of additional training. These aren’t high-salary jobs, but they can provide a lot of personal satisfaction if you like working with and helping people.

1. Mediator

A mediator works with people to facilitate negotiation and conflict resolution through dialogue. They also resolve conflicts outside of the court system by mutual consent of parties involved. A mediator is hired by courts, families, couples, unions or other organizations to provide non-biased negotiation for all parties involved in a dispute.

Each state has different requirements for mediators such as licensure, registration or certification, but most mediators complete a 40-hour basic course and a 20-hour advanced training course. Some people receive training by volunteering at a community mediation center or co-mediating cases with an experienced mediator. You can also complete an advanced degree or certificate program in conflict resolution at a college or university.

According to PayScale, the average salary for a mediator as of December 2010 is between $32,761 and $90,153, with the median around $48,000. A first year mediator can expect to make between $27,000 and $45,000. Self-employed mediators have the highest salaries, making between $78,000 and $123,000 a year. Here’s the employment outlook according to the U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics:

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  11%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 900
  • Employment 2006 : 9,400
  • Employment 2016:  8,500

2. Certified Professional Fitness Trainer

A personal trainer is a professional who works with people  in areas such as nutrition, exercise, goal setting, diets, lifestyle and health.  Most certified personal trainers work in gyms or spas, and some have their own businesses.

You need to be outgoing, patient, knowledgeable, and have good teaching and listening skills. It also helps if you’re flexible, enjoy working with different types of people, and are willing to market yourself.

Online personal training programs can take from four to six weeks to complete. Organizations like the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, offer in-person three-day workshops  for becoming a personal trainer. These workshops prepare you for the certification exam. Depending on your level of knowledge and experience, this method could take less than a week to complete. Vocational schools also offer health and fitness programs that can take up to two years to complete. Upon completion, the student will have enough knowledge and experience to pass the certification exam.

According to PayScale.com, personal trainers with certifications as health education specialists earn $30,222 to $80,870 per year, based on a 40-hour workweek. Personal trainers who are certified by the ACE (American Counsel on Exercise) earn $27,331 to $63,794 annually. Additionally, personal trainers certified as athletic trainers can expect to earn $25,812 to $61,984 annually.

The U.S. Department of Labor is forecasting a 50% growth rate for the industry through the next decade, as Baby Boomers are aging and more interested in fitness and health. Many trainers are getting hired immediately on becoming certified, and there are some cases where candidates are “pre-hired” in anticipation of achieving their certification.

3. Substance Abuse Counselor

Substance abuse or addiction counselors help people who have problems related to alcohol and other drugs. They counsel addicts, former addicts, and those who fear they might become addicts. In addition, they counsel the families, friends, and loved ones of addicts, whose lives are affected by the addict and his/her behavior.

Addiction counselors also help with practical problems such as a job search, finances, or finding a home. Although they do not prescribe medicine or provide medical or psychological therapy, substance abuse counselors work closely with doctors, psychologists, or social workers.

Some addiction counselors work in halfway houses where addicts live while they are under treatment. They may also work in outpatient clinics or in hospitals, treatment centers, or human service agencies. Substance abuse counselors have counseling sessions for one person or for a group. At these sessions counselors try to help addicts talk about, understand, and cope with their problems.

Substance abuse counselors generally are trained on the job. The programs vary in length from six weeks to two years. Also, some colleges also offer training programs for counselors. These programs usually last two years and include courses on the effects of alcohol and other drugs. Students may also learn crisis intervention for dealing with emergency situations such as emotional or medical problems. Graduates of these programs usually receive an associate’s degree. Certification is also available from the National Board for Certified Counselors.

According to Payscale, the salary range for a Substance Abuse Counselor is $27,478-$38,645 per year. The median annual salary for Substance Abuse Counselors in 2007 was $35,580, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who work for insurance carriers earned the highest salary, which was $49,860 in 2007.

Job opportunities for Substance Abuse Counselors are expected to grow faster than average, about 34%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The growing demand for Substance Abuse Counselors is due to more people seeking treatment for their addictions and an increase in drug offenders being sent to addiction treatment programs instead of prison.

4. Travel and Tourism Specialist

Have you dreamed of traveling the world? Do you love working with people and have a talent for sales? If so, you might consider a job as a travel and tourism specialist.  Travel and tourism specialists are well-versed in domestic and international destinations. They assist with booking flights, hotels, and cruises as well as finding the best deals for their clients.  Administrative and organizational skills, special attention to detail and excellent computer skills are all good traits for a travel and tourism specialist.

They also  reap the personal rewards of deep travel discounts. Travel agents are generally employed with an established travel agency or by starting their own business.

Certification courses can be taken at a local community college, through a travel agency, or online. The amount of time needed for licensure and certification varies depending on the program, but the general time frame is 6-12 weeks.  The Travel Institute and the American Society of Travel Agents web sites both offer resources for earning certification.

The Travel Institute offers the Travel Agent Proficiency (TAP) test, which shortens by six months the amount of work experience you need to become a certified travel associate and makes you more employable. Without the TAP test, you’ll need to work in the industry for 18 months before you can take the Certified Travel Associate exam. With the TAP test, you can take the CTA exam with only one year of work experience. Another advantage is that prospective employers will know you are serious about a career as a travel agent and are more likely to hire you than another newcomer without the TAP. The Travel Institute offers home study books and courses on studying for the test.

According to Payscale, the salary range for a travel agent is $24,592-$36,551 per year. Agents may also receive compensation in the form of bonuses and incentives. One of the major benefits travel agents receive is the opportunity to travel at reduced rates.

This is a competitive field, and now  he abundance of online travel web sites allows travelers to research and book their own vacations is eliminating the need for travel agents. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for travel agents is poor, with 6% fewer jobs available between 2004 and 2014.

If you’re interested in more on-site travel work, the job outlook is better for travel and tour guides, with a 15.7% increase projected between 2004 and 2014.

17 thoughts on “4 Cool Careers That Don’t Take Years of Training”

    • Hi Bernice,
      Well, you don’t have to be a hard-body, but you do need to be a positive role model for your clients! So no beer and candy bars while you are in a training session. 🙂

  1. I think you’ve touched on something that explains why so many people are unhappy with their career. People change, their hobbies change, interests change… everything changes. Yet quite often our jobs stay the same year after year. It’s no surprise people feel like they are in a rut and become unsatisfied with their jobs or careers. After all, 5, 10 or 20 years later we’re not the same person who started that job.

    • That’s exactly right Jason. That’s why it’s so important to keep our lifestyles somewhat fluid so we can bend and grow with those changes.

  2. Thanks Barrie ~ It’s wonderful to introduce new opportunities to your readers! I think many of us grow up thinking that when we graduate from college, or begin our career, that’s what we’ll do for the next 40 years, and then we’ll retire, and then we’ll be old. The thought of it suffocates me! I’m so grateful for the opportunities that we have.

    Can we add to the list, Healing Touch Practitioner? One can complete the training in as little as a year and a half. Learning about human energy and healing is such a gift ~ so wonderful to share with others. Even before I’m certified I’m able to provide sessions that make a true difference in the lives of others ~ as well as distance sessions for anyone in the world! That’s pretty amazing!

    Thanks Barrie for being the good coach and friend that you are, and for helping us keep our eyes and ears open for possibilities 🙂 ~ and BTW let me know if you, or any of your clients or readers would like one or more sessions …. I won’t be certified until later this year and until then it’s all free 🙂

    • Hi Jane,
      Thank you for sharing the info about a Healing Touch Practitioner. That’s great to know. Now I’m curious, so I’m going to go read more about it. Congratulations on your new career — one of many! 🙂

  3. I just found your blog. 🙂 I love this post. I was an elementary school teacher, but I’ve been a stay/work-at-home mom for seven years. My youngest is starting school next year, so I’m starting to think about what is next…

    In the last couple of years I’ve started running and lifting weights. The thought of being a personal trainer has crossed my mind a couple of times, but I dismissed it, assuming it was too hard to do and would require too much school.

    You’ve just opened up a new possibility for me…

    • Hi Amy,
      Isn’t it amazing how things come to us at times when we need them mos! I am so glad you found this article and hope you will let us know about whether or not you pursue this. New possibilities are so exciting! Thank you for your kind comments.

  4. Loved the article!
    I’m in school for substance abuse counseling. I think at 34 I may have finally figured it out!

  5. I have been a stay at home mom for a while and would like to go back to school and pursue a career but have been having a heck of a time trying to figure out what it is I want to do. I saw this blog and was surprised that mediators and substance abuse counselors have so little schooling. I have a couple of misdemeanors on my record so that is a concern. I found info online that said I could still easily go through training and get a job with my criminal record for a substance abuse counselor. I could not find any info on this matter concerning a mediator though. Do you know if I would be able to be mediator?

  6. I’ve got some recommendations for your great website topics you might be interested
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  7. Searching Searching Searching……..Have had my own residential cleaning business for over twenty five years- working physical job has taken a toll on my body! I had a full hip replacement three years ago which hasn’t turned out well due to the surgery. Looking for something new to do, love people and can sell myself but haven’t done anything else. Have often thought about counseling but I love the idea a certified personal trainer. Also love the idea of a Mediator how do I find out how to become certified doing that?


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