The 50 highest-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree

#50. Mail Carriers

Average Salary: $51,130
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Sort mail for delivery. Deliver mail on established route by vehicle or on foot.

*Note: Descriptions for each job were sourced (with minor edits) from the BLS Standard Occupational Classification system.

#49. Rail-Track Laying Equipment Operators

Average Salary: $51,340
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Lay, repair and maintain track for standard or narrow-gauge railroad equipment used in regular railroad service or in plant yards, quarries, sand and gravel pits and mines. Includes ballast cleaning machine operators and railroad bed tamping machine operators.

#48. Choreographers

Average Salary: $51,560
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Create new dance routines. Rehearse performance of routines. May direct and stage presentations.

#47. Brickmasons

Average Salary: $51,750
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Lay and bind building materials, such as brick, structural tile, concrete block, cinder block, glass block and terra-cotta block, with mortar and other substances to construct or repair walls, partitions, arches, sewers and other structures.

#46. Explosives Workers and Earth Drillers

Average Salary: $52,580
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Place and detonate explosives to demolish structures or to loosen, remove or displace earth, rock or other materials. May perform specialized handling, storage and accounting procedures. Includes seismograph shooters. Operate a variety of drills such as rotary, churn and pneumatic to tap sub-surface water and salt deposits, to remove core samples during mineral exploration or soil testing, and to facilitate the use of explosives in mining or construction. May use explosives. Includes horizontal and earth boring machine operators.

#45. Millwrights

Average Salary: $52,650
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Install, dismantle or move machinery and heavy equipment according to layout plans, blueprints or other drawings.

#44. Costume Attendants

Average Salary: $52,870
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Select, fit and take care of costumes for cast members and aid entertainers. May assist with multiple costume changes during performances.

#43. Tapers

Average Salary: $53,080
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Seal joints between plasterboard or other wallboard to prepare wall surface for painting or papering.

#42. Food Service Managers

Average Salary: $53,640
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Plan, direct or coordinate activities of an organization or department that serves food and beverages.

#41. Railroad Operators

Average Salary: $53,990
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Operate railroad track switches. Couple or uncouple rolling stock to make up or break up trains. Signal engineers by hand or flagging. May inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes and hand brakes.

#40. Rebar Workers

Average Salary: $54,030
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Position and secure steel bars or mesh in concrete forms in order to reinforce concrete. Use a variety of fasteners, rod-bending machines, blowtorches and hand tools. Includes rod busters.

#39. Rail Car Repairers

Average Salary: $54,130
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Diagnose, adjust, repair or overhaul railroad rolling stock, mine cars or mass transit rail cars.

#38. Painters

Average Salary: $54,170
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Create original artwork using any of a wide variety of media and techniques.

#37. Telecommunications Line Installers

Average Salary: $54,200
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Install and repair telecommunications cable, including fiber optics.

#36. Locomotive Firers

Average Salary: $54,540
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Monitor locomotive instruments and watch for dragging equipment, obstacles on rights-of-way and train signals during run. Watch for and relay traffic signals from yard workers to yard engineer in railroad yard.

#35. Crane and Tower Operators

Average Salary: $54,560
Prior Education: Some College or Associate’s Degree, High School Education

Job Description: Operate mechanical boom and cable or tower and cable equipment to lift and move materials, machines or products in many directions.

#34. Steel Workers

Average Salary: $54,750
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Raise, place and unite iron or steel girders, columns and other structural members to form completed structures or structural frameworks. May erect metal storage tanks and assemble prefabricated metal buildings.

#33. Steamfitters

Average Salary: $55,100
Prior Education: Some College or Associate’s Degree, High School Education

Job Description: Lay out, assemble, install or maintain pipe systems, pipe supports or related hydraulic or pneumatic equipment for steam, hot water, heating, cooling, lubricating, sprinkling or industrial production or processing systems.

#32. Mine Shuttle Operators

Average Salary: $55,120
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Operate diesel or electric-powered shuttle car in underground mine to transport materials from working face to mine cars or conveyor.

#31. Pile-Driver Operators

Average Salary: $55,150
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Operate pile drivers mounted on skids, barges, crawler treads or locomotive cranes to drive pilings for retaining walls, bulkheads and foundations of structures, such as buildings, bridges and piers.

#30. Mining Roof Bolters

Average Salary: $55,500
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Operate machinery to install roof support bolts in underground mine.

#29. Biomass Plant Technicians

Average Salary: $55,530
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Control and monitor biomass plant activities and perform maintenance as needed.

#28. Railroad Conductors

Average Salary: $56,760
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Coordinate activities of switch-engine crew within railroad yard, industrial plant or similar location. Conductors coordinate activities of train crew on passenger or freight trains. Yardmasters review train schedules and switching orders and coordinate activities of workers engaged in railroad traffic operations, such as the makeup or breakup of trains and yard switching.

#27. Gas Station Operators

Average Salary: $57,510
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Operate steam, gas, electric motor or internal combustion engine driven compressors. Transmit, compress or recover gases, such as butane, nitrogen, hydrogen and natural gas.

#26. Real Estate Sales Agents

Average Salary: $58,410
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Rent, buy or sell property for clients. Perform duties, such as study property listings, interview prospective clients, accompany clients to property site, discuss conditions of sale and draw up real estate contracts. Includes agents who represent buyer.

#25. Supervisors of Vehicle Operators

Average Salary: $58,470
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Directly supervise and coordinate activities of transportation and material-moving machine and vehicle operators and helpers.

#24. Chemical Plant Operators

Average Salary: $59,070
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Control or operate entire chemical processes or system of machines.

#23. Locomotive Engineers

Average Salary: $59,360
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Drive electric, diesel-electric, steam or gas-turbine-electric locomotives to transport passengers or freight. Interpret train orders, electronic or manual signals and railroad rules and regulations.

#22. Production Supervisors

Average Salary: $59,930
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Directly supervise and coordinate the activities of production and operating workers, such as inspectors, precision workers, machine setters and operators, assemblers, fabricators and plant and system operators.

#21. Oil Drill Operators

Average Salary: $60,380
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Set up or operate a variety of drills to remove underground oil and gas or remove core samples for testing during oil and gas exploration.

#20. Stationary Engineers

Average Salary: $60,480
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Operate or maintain stationary engines, boilers or other mechanical equipment to provide utilities for buildings or industrial processes. Operate equipment, such as steam engines, generators, motors, turbines and steam boilers.

#19. Subway Operators

Average Salary: $60,580
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Operate subway or elevated suburban trains with no separate locomotive or electric-powered streetcar to transport passengers. May handle fares.

#18. Boilermakers

Average Salary: $60,660
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Construct, assemble, maintain and repair stationary steam boilers and boiler house auxiliaries. Align structures or plate sections to assemble boiler frame tanks or vats, following blueprints. Work involves use of hand and power tools, plumb bobs, levels, wedges, dogs or turnbuckles. Assist in testing assembled vessels. Direct cleaning of boilers and boiler furnaces. Inspect and repair boiler fittings, such as safety valves, regulators, automatic-control mechanisms, water columns and auxiliary machines.

#17. Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs

Average Salary: $61,270
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Enforce law and order in rural or unincorporated districts or serve legal processes of courts. May patrol courthouse, guard court or grand jury or escort defendants.

#16. Correctional Officer Supervisors

Average Salary: $62,770
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Directly supervise and coordinate activities of correctional officers and jailers.

#15. Non-Destructive Testing Specialists

Average Salary: $62,820
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Test the safety of structures, vehicles or vessels using x-ray, ultrasound, fiber optic or related equipment.

#14. Petroleum Pump Operators

Average Salary: $66,020
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Operate or control petroleum refining or processing units. May specialize in controlling manifold and pumping systems, gauging or testing oil in storage tanks or regulating the flow of oil into pipelines.

#13. Makeup Artists

Average Salary: $66,560
Prior Education: Some College or Associate’s Degree, High School Education

Job Description: Apply makeup to performers to reflect period, setting and situation of their role.

#12. Creative Writers

Average Salary: $69,130
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Create original written works, such as scripts, essays, prose, poetry or song lyrics, for publication or performance.

#11. Licensing Examiners

Average Salary: $69,180
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Examine, evaluate and investigate eligibility for, conformity with or liability under licenses or permits.

#10. Postmasters

Average Salary: $70,540
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Plan, direct or coordinate operational, administrative, management and supportive services of a U.S. post office; or coordinate activities of workers engaged in postal and related work in assigned post office.

#9. Power Plant Operators

Average Salary: $71,070
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Control, operate or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.

#8. Customs Brokers

Average Salary: $73,480
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Prepare customs documentation and ensure that shipments meet all applicable laws to facilitate the import and export of goods. Determine and track duties and taxes payable and process payments on behalf of client. Sign documents under a power of attorney. Represent clients in meetings with customs officials and apply for duty refunds and tariff reclassifications. Coordinate transportation and storage of imported goods.

#7. Gaming Managers

Average Salary: $77,770
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Plan, direct or coordinate gaming operations in a casino. May formulate house rules.

#6. Police Records Officers and Customs Inspectors

Average Salary: $79,620
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Collect evidence at crime scene, classify and identify fingerprints and photograph evidence for use in criminal and civil cases, and investigate. Inspect persons, common carriers, goods and merchandise, arriving in or departing from the United States or between states to detect violations of immigration and customs laws and regulations.

#5. Power Distributors

Average Salary: $80,400
Prior Education: Some College or Associate’s Degree, High School Education

Job Description: Coordinate, regulate or distribute electricity or steam.

#4. Athletes

Average Salary: $80,490
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Compete in athletic events.

#3. Ship Pilots

Average Salary: $83,150
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Command ships to steer them into and out of harbors, estuaries, straits or sounds, or on rivers, lakes or bays. Must be licensed by U.S. Coast Guard with limitations indicating class and tonnage of vessels for which license is valid and route and waters that may be piloted.

#2. Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

Average Salary: $88,820
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Operate or control nuclear reactors. Move control rods, start and stop equipment, monitor and adjust controls and record data in logs. Implement emergency procedures when needed. May respond to abnormalities, determine cause and recommend corrective action.

#1. Financial Service Sales Agents

Average Salary: $102,860
Prior Education: High School Education

Job Description: Sell financial services, such as loan, tax and securities counseling to customers of financial institutions and business establishments.


The $100,000 job: Garbage workers
These trash workers make six figures

When Noel Molina smells trash, he smells money. Lots of it.

Molina and his co-worker, Tony Sankar, have been picking trash together for a decade in New York City.

They’ve seen, and smelled, it all. Stale fish, footlong rats, dead pigs and cows. Countless drunks have heckled them. And yes, one time Sankar saw a human leg in a dumpster.

They work the graveyard shift — 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. — rain or shine, ice cold or burning hot.

And yet, they love their job. Part of the reason is they get paid well for their hard work.

“Your trash is my money,” Molina, 32, says with a baby-faced grin.

Molina made $112,000 last year as a garbage truck driver and Sankar made $100,000 as a helper, riding on the back of the truck. Their wages have grown in eight of the last nine years, according to their bosses, brothers David and Jerry Antonacci, owners of Crown Container, a waste management company.

Molina dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and he’s worked at Crown for 10 years. He says his starting salary was about $80,000. Sankar too dropped out of school before migrating to the U.S. from Guyana 20 years ago.

Not everyone makes six figures, but most trash workers are doing better than high school dropouts and even graduates.

Nationwide, the annual salary for a garbage truck driver is $40,000, according to the Labor Department. Across all professions, high school dropouts earn about $24,000, while high school graduates make $30,000 annually, according to the U.S. Education Department.

Molina and Sankar are aware that they outearn many people with a college degree.

Guys who go to college might not make the kind of money “(I make) on the back of a garbage truck, picking up trash,” says Sankar.

garbage workers animation

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Not only do they earn a good salary, their wages are growing faster than the average too. Nationwide, wages for trash workers have grown 18%, which is a lot faster than the 14% average for all workers since the recession ended in June 2009.

That’s because it’s not easy to find workers in the business. Employers can’t find qualified truck drivers, landfill operators or mechanics.

David Antonacci says he got 50 applications when he advertised for a truck driver’s job. Only four applicants had a commercial drivers license and all four had penalties on their licenses. So Antonacci couldn’t hire any of them.

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That lack of available talent is one key reason why Antonacci and others in the industry have given out raises at a faster pace than the national average.

It’s the same story in other parts of the country. Kathy Morris runs a waste management facility in Davenport, Iowa, and she’s raised wages to retain employees.

“Not only has the demand for workers increased but (so have) the types of skills,” says Morris, director of the Waste Commission of Scott County. The landfill operators at her site make about $50,000 a year.

garbage worker more money

It’s far from an easy job. Beyond the stench, Molina and Sankar lift heavy trash bags every night, weave through traffic, and talk to each other constantly for safety. They work a lot too — 55 to 60 hours a week.

Outside of physically grueling work, negative stigmas deter young adults from applying even though the barrier for entry isn’t high: private trash companies don’t require a high school diploma. Truck drivers need a commercial drivers license, which some employers will train employees for.

But there’s job security, says David Biderman, executive director of Solid Waste Association of North America, the association that represents thousands of waste management workers.

Biderman argues the waste industry offers long-term job security for working class folks. Both Molina and Sankar have full health care coverage and a 401(k) retirement account. If they leave the job, they are entitled to severance pay too.




The Kid Who Revolutionized YouTube’s Tech Reviews


Marques Brownlee has become an internet celebrity and earned the label of “best technology reviewer on the planet,” but the 22-year-old’s video creations haven’t just shaped his own image: They’ve helped legitimize the entire tech community on YouTube and redefine what life on the platform can be.

“I sound like Elmo,” Marques Brownlee, the 22-year-old tech reviewer behind the immensely popular YouTube channel MKBHD, says as he rewatches his first video review, a look at an HP laptop remote that he posted at the formative age of 15. Viewing an old YouTube video induces a version of the dread in Brownlee that most of us feel when an old photo resurfaces on Facebook, except in his case, the personal horror is widely available for millions of viewers to see. “I can’t delete it,” Brownlee says, cringing slightly from embarrassment. “It’s too late. If I delete it, they’ll all know I deleted it. That makes it worse.”

It’s late spring, and Brownlee is scrolling through his old MKBHD videos in his new Kearny, New Jersey, studio. After graduating from the Stevens Institute of Technology in May 2015, Brownlee began to feel constrained by the confines of his 12-by-12-foot bedroom in the Hoboken apartment he then called home, and started to look for studio space. The building he found is on the site of an old industrial park that’s being renovated and converted into office space, and Brownlee is among the first handful of tenants. As the HP-remote video plays, construction roars outside, even with the windows and door shut. The studio itself is a little smaller than two basketball courts and still partially unfurnished: Some soundproofing foam lines the ceiling to dampen the echo, while trinket-littered tables, tripods, lights, unopened boxes, and a hoverboard dot the floor. There are two chairs.

Far removed from the days of filming in his apartment and relying on a webcam and basic editing software, Brownlee currently utilizes a RED Weapon Dragon, a camera setup that can fetch north of $70,000 and was used to film blockbusters such as The Martian, Jurassic World, and The Revenant.Though Brownlee acquired the camera at a significant discount through RED’s upgrade program, he’s poured an estimated $50,000 into equipment.

That level of investment is essential for YouTube tech channels such as MKBHD, a full-fledged studio operation that posts to an eager audience of 3.6 million YouTube subscribers, as well as 735,000 Twitter, 516,000Instagram, and 254,000 Facebook followers, accumulating 453 million views since launch and making as much as an estimated $502,100 a year from ad revenue, according to SocialBlade.

That scale reflects Brownlee’s standing in the burgeoning YouTube tech review community. In 2013, former Google senior vice president Vic Gundotra called Brownlee “the best technology reviewer on the planet,” and MKBHD’s success has been at the forefront of the evolving understanding of what a life lived on YouTube can be. It’s no longer just a platform for stay-at-home amateurs working out of their basements; it’s a social media outlet with massive reach, huge financial stakes, and mainstream implications. And what sensations like PewDiePie andGrace Helbig have done for YouTube as a whole, Brownlee has done for the tech community in particular.

It didn’t happen overnight. As the Brownlee on the monitor critiques the HP remote, the Brownlee in the studio critiques his younger self. “Look at that reflection. Tilt [the laptop]!” he yells at the screen. At one point, when the 15-year-old talking into the webcam doesn’t know what function a particular button on the remote serves, the now 6-foot-3 Brownlee puts his head into his hands, mortified.

As the nearly three-minute video draws to a close, Brownlee visibly eases up when his on-screen self says, “As you can see, I have a big hand, but [the remote] is pretty small.” “Wow, I said that in the first video,” Brownlee says, perking up. “I’ve said that in years of video. I’ve said that as recently as last week.”

Brownlee’s tendency to mention his hand size encapsulates why he’s been so successful on YouTube: He’s oddly charismatic, acutely articulate, and incredibly deliberate in his presentation. He’s also refreshingly authentic: In the flesh, Brownlee is almost alarmingly consistent with his video persona. “He’s not even playing a slightly amped-up version of himself,” says David Pierce, a senior writer forWired. “He’s never enthusiastic in his videos, which I always get a kick out of.”

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Consistency has been Brownlee’s hallmark in part because his primary motivation is pretty simple: He’s trying to make something that’s expert, but accessible — and something that he would want to watch. “[Making tech recommendations] feels like an extension of what I’m already doing with grandma,” Brownlee says. “Or maybe a more tech-savvy version of grandma.”

Millions of grandmas, it turns out, yet Brownlee isn’t intimidated by MKBHD’s audience or the fact that his opinions influence the purchasing decisions of so many. “I’m just glad that there’s 3.5 million people out there who are interested in the same technology and stuff that I am,” he says. He’s interviewed Kobe Bryant about sneaker tech andbeen interviewed by Neil deGrasse Tyson for the web series Innovators, and he’s proud of his channel’s steadily rising reach over the last seven years.

“Imagine a piece of paper,” Brownlee says, making a rectangle with his hands. “It’s blue on one side and it’s yellow on the other side, and there’s a gradient from blue to yellow. How the fuck did it get to yellow? When was the first yellow point? … It’s been all of these things and then just yellow, 3.5 million subscribers. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s yellow now. I love it.”

Just about two years ago, Brownlee filmed a video in which he attempted to both scratch a piece of glass with a knife and bend it at a 90-degree angle under his foot. This wasn’t just any piece of glass, however; it was a prototype sapphire crystal rumored to be the material used for the display screen on the iPhone 6, then a few months from release. Overnight, the video went viral, getting featured across numerous mainstream outlets including The Verge, The Huffington Post,CNET, Time, and NBC News, and eventually accumulating more than 8 million views on YouTube.

What outside observers might have considered a sudden breakthrough for Brownlee was years in the making, however. Brownlee’s father, Marlon, is a politician serving on the Maplewood, New Jersey, Township Committee, and worked as an information technology consultant before founding Syntelligent Solutions, so gadgets were always around the house. At 15 years old, Brownlee searched the internet for videos about his new laptop, the HP Pavilion dv7. When he didn’t find any, he decided to make the video himself.

By 2014, he’d already spent five years posting tech videos to YouTube and was among the most popular YouTubers covering the tech world. The success of the sapphire-crystal display video represented years of preparation meeting opportunity, Brownlee’s moment in the intensely bright mainstream spotlight powered by the insatiable Apple-product rumor cycle.

The iPhone-display news wasn’t just a high-profile moment for Brownlee; it also marked a key point for the YouTube tech community as a whole, which was already thriving among its hyperloyal following, but hadn’t yet enjoyed a shift in the masses’ perception. MKBHD’s scoop helped pave the path of understanding from folks filming videos on their bedroom webcams to skilled content creators using professional equipment to generate highly produced reviews.

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Among the first people producing YouTube tech reviews at a high level, and later as their full-time jobs, were Jon Rettinger, president and founder of tech website TechnoBuffalo, and Mark Watson, who runs the channel Soldier Knows Best. Rettinger and Watson share similar YouTube origin stories: They were bored at their jobs (marketing for Rettinger; working in an AT&T call center for Watson) and channeled their passion for technology into making videos about computers, smartphones, and the tech industry as a whole. When YouTube launched its partner program in 2007, giving content creators the opportunity to make money from ads placed on their videos, both became successful, eventually focusing on YouTube full time around 2009.

“I remember Jon, when you looked at his first videos, you saw his bed was unmade in the background and he was sitting there with a big ol’ steak knife in his videos,” Watson says. “I do kinda miss those days.”

[IMG]Joon Lee
Rettinger’s and Watson’s success in the early days of YouTube set the stage for creators like Brownlee to make a living by creating videos about the latest smartphone. Watson used to frequently host livestreams in which he’d answer tech questions from viewers young and old alike, and Brownlee, then in high school, was a frequent caller.

“We were all hungry to make that next step,” says Austin Evans, a good friend of Brownlee’s whose tech channel boasts 1.5 million subscribers.“You would look up at the big guys like SoldierKnowsBest with [10,000], 15,000 subscribers and think about how we could get there.”

Brownlee has rocketed past both Rettinger and Watson, who have 1.28 million and 765,000 subscribers, respectively. He’s also helped push the boundaries of YouTube video production quality. Whereas videos were once 10 minutes of uncut commentary with cameras pointed directly at a product, the increased accessibility to high-quality cameras allowed cinematic production to become the norm rather than the exception. By 2010, high-quality videos were being put out by individuals, not just large media outlets.

“We don’t have, or no longer have, any exclusivity on something that feels highly produced,” says Dieter Bohn, executive editor of The Verge, which has teamed up with Brownlee on multiple videos. “The quality of the videos that Marques puts out is incredibly good.”

Consumers and media outlets weren’t the only ones who noticed the change: Slowly but surely, technology companies also came to respect the work appearing on YouTube. “I remember in 2011, 2012, most companies would not even email you back,” Evans says. As more and more companies began to recognize the untapped potential of YouTube’s reach, though, more and more content creators began receiving invitations to press events.

“It’s gone from people not even considering videos as a medium that they wanted to get involved with to now considering videos as the only medium they want to get involved with,” Rettinger says.

While becoming notable on the internet is itself a feat, maintaining that popularity is as daunting a challenge. Channels that once ruled YouTube — such as the notorious Fred, which in 2009 became the first YouTube channel to reach 1 million subscribers, but has only grown to 2.5 million by 2016 — now barely register. The products that are able to meet that challenge by continuing to grow then face another battle: holding onto their initial small-shop charm.

“You’re trying to reach that NBA level within in the tech community,” Watson says, “but you still want to have that excitement level of college basketball.”

YouTube personalities used to feel like secret discoveries for those in the know, but that exclusivity is starting to dissipate as young people flock to the site as their primary source of information and entertainment.“You have real, actual celebrities on YouTube,” Brownlee says. “I wonder if it affects the way that people who watch the videos think about it because they look at it and it’s like, ‘Oh, 10 million people are subscribed to this. Am I still part of this small intimate club of people who listen to them talk? Is it the same anymore?’ I don’t know. If it doesn’t change the videos, keep going. Keep making good stuff.”

The tech review community is in many ways ideally situated to grow without compromising. What differentiates tech from comedy or music, for example, is that content creation in the tech realm is not dependent on the constant creativity of a producer. There’s always a new phone around the corner. The cycle self-perpetuates.

“I’ve seen other YouTube channels where it’s this character you’re subscribed to and it’s a great channel because they’re hilarious and it’s really funny or extreme,” Brownlee says. “Then it gets old after a while. With tech, on the one hand, you have personality that can spice it up and deliver it well and consistent across the board, but at the same time, we’re not really relying, most of us, on being hilarious or extreme or eye-opening or whatever to make videos. That’s why a lot of it keeps barreling forward.”

When Brownlee earned an invite to Apple’s 2015 introduction of the 12-inch MacBook with retina display, becoming the first YouTuber invited to any of the company’s press events, it in many ways symbolized the YouTube tech review community clearing the final hurdle into mainstream legitimacy. “It felt like a long time coming,” Brownlee says. “It just gives you a sense of legitimacy. I’m around the tech blogs and The New York Times of the world, because Youtube matters.”

As Brownlee drives back from picking up a chicken bacon ranch sandwich from Subway, he accidentally takes a wrong turn and joins traffic onto the Lincoln Highway Bridge. Sitting in a seemingly never-ending sea of cars, Brownlee begins to recount another time he sat waiting — that time at an airport in 2014, waiting to be verified. “I was talking to the Twitter guy right before I was about to get on a plane and was trying to get it right before I got on the flight and when I got it, I was like ‘Yes!’” he says, clapping emphatically, then pumping his fist.

Brownlee appears to enjoy being recognized for his work at MKBHD, to appreciate the followers who storm his every tweet. Fans who have followed Brownlee for years have seen him grow up on screen. They’ve heard his voice crack, followed him as he graduated high school and went through college, come to recognize the Honey Nut Cheerios that, for a long time, sat in the background of his videos. Consumer has bonded with creator.

Only once has the attention overwhelmed Brownlee. In February 2016, he helped host a Los Angeles Q&A event for Team Crispy, a group of video collaborators including Brownlee, Evans, Jonathan Morrison of TLD, Lew Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy, and Judner Aura of UrAvgConsumer.

After the event, the quintet hosted a meet and greet, and Brownlee noticed that the line stretched out of the auditorium, down the aisle, out the door, and down the stairs, 200 people long all waiting to shake his hand. “I looked around the corner, and I was like, ‘Oh my fucking god, there’s no way I can make all of these people happy,’” Brownlee recalls. Even in an anxious moment, though, Brownlee found reason to celebrate: “It was really rewarding to talk to people who have their own story of how they came across the videos and started watching it and got really into tech.”

Pierce knows that this level of engagement is rare: “The amazing thing that not many people do is getting a giant group of people who really want you to be successful,” Pierce says. “[Marques] has that and his fans root for him.”

While major outlets have long strived to develop personal brands in video content, the more casual nature of YouTube has allowed content creators like Brownlee to build more memorable online personalities. “The truth is that everyone on The Verge, myself included, have been trying to build up personalities since long before YouTube and have been trying to do it on YouTube,” Bohn says. “We just, quite frankly, weren’t quite as good at it.”

Becoming a full-time YouTuber after graduation wasn’t always Brownlee’s plan. “I thought about it because other people at my level were doing it, so it crossed my mind naturally, but it was still a hobby outside of school,” Brownlee says.

In some ways, it still isn’t: In addition to attending classes, Brownlee devoted 75 percent of his free time in college to playing ultimate frisbee, which he now plays professionally for the New York Rumble of Major League Ultimate, and in which a travel stipend comprises the bulk of his compensation. “As far as I’m concerned, right now, I’m a professional ultimate player that makes video on the side and it’s totally not that at all,” Brownlee says. “I’m definitely a professional YouTuber, but as far as priorities go, I’m scheduling time around frisbee so that I don’t miss games or anything and then when I wake up, I come over to the studio and brainstorm and try to make a cool video and see what happens.”

Now that he’s graduated, Brownlee says he splits his time 50–50 between YouTube and ultimate frisbee, spending most weekends with his team traveling for games. When he’s not playing frisbee, Brownlee talks endlessly about how his new studio space will allow him to expand the possibilities for his videos and give him room to take more risks and be more creative. “I get the sense that there’s somewhere in his brain or in some huge Excel spreadsheet like a 20-year MKBHD plan that he’s ruthlessly executing,” Pierce says. “[Marques] could be President of the United States.”

Being a professional YouTuber presents challenges, of course. YouTube was a simultaneously expensive and fruitful hobby for Brownlee during college, but it was still a hobby. Now he’s facing both the benefits and challenges that exist for those who make a living on the internet.

Though Brownlee has no shortage of professional opportunities, his focus in the short and long term remains on making YouTube videos. During his freshman year of college, Brownlee says, he turned down an opportunity to join Rettinger as a video personality for TechnoBuffalo in Los Angeles. Two years ago, Brownlee received offers to join CNNand another television news outlet as “the guy who talks tech,” but decided to pass. “I would be on TV, but if I’m not doing what I was doing before, which is making videos, then I’m not longer enjoying it,” Brownlee says. Brownlee’s passion isn’t just about being an analyst; it’s tied up in the entire process of creating a video, from setting up new shots, to testing out different graphics, to playing with the color of the visuals to editing everything together.

That creation process is why he’s committed to remaining independent; it’s also why he’s ready to move beyond being a one-man operation and is currently thinking about hiring someone to assist with video production. With “extra space for activities,” he’s eager to bring in other YouTubers to collaborate. Beyond that? “You might as well say I’m winging it,” Brownlee says. “The short term to me is tonight.”

Despite his prior uncertainty, Brownlee now says that his future will always be creating videos, regardless of whether or not they appear on YouTube. If YouTube disappears, Brownlee will go to wherever people are searching for videos. “I want to see this video of this laptop, where do you go?” Brownlee says. “Wherever that answer is, that’s where you’ll find me.”

As Brownlee continues to flip through his videos, he starts skipping around; sitting patiently through the past mistakes, janky pans, double watermarks, and evolving on-camera presence is too hard. Eventually, however, he stumbles upon the video of him celebrating his millionth subscriber, a milestone he became the first tech review YouTuber to hit.

Suddenly, Brownlee eases up. He watches the opening montage of some of his milestones: the first video filmed with a new camera, the first video shot in a new space, the first video recorded at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as “Cut to Black” by Lemaitre plays in the background. “This is just the beginning,” the on-screen Brownlee says. “More than ever, thank you.”

“Yeah, that was pretty solid,” present-day Brownlee says, grinning as he looks at the monitor well after the video has ended. Hitting that millionth subscriber was a massive moment for Brownlee, but it was also just one of many. This moment two years later, with a new studio at his disposal and his devotion to YouTube reinforced, feels massive and new too.

“It’s so yellow,” he says, as his laughter fills the room.





How to become a freelancer in 10 essential steps[​IMG]Lightpost | USA TODAY NetworkUpdated 2:15 p.m. ET Dec. 27, 2016What are you doing to become successful in 2017?

If you’re ready to put in the work, becoming a freelancer could be the most lucrative New Year’s resolution you make — whether you’re trying to score more cash in Q1 or set the foundation of a new business venture. That’s why Lightpost, a new part of the USA TODAY Network is here. Below you’ll find an 10-step checklist that will break down the process into simple, expert-vetted steps. Want more info on each? Click in to find worksheets, coaching advice and more.

1. Keeping it real: How to decide if freelancing is right for you (and where to start)
Are you ready to hustle? According to career coach Michelle Ward, you better be!

“This is the most important shift you need to make to launch and be a successful freelancer. If you don’t believe that you can do it, then you won’t. Plain and simple. Harsh yet true.” – Michelle Ward, “When I Grow Up” Coach

Some of the steps we’ll quickly walk you through include goal-setting, deciding if part-time or full-time freelancing makes sense for you, and engaging the support of family and friends in this new venture. It’s good to know if you get stuck along the way, specialized career coaches can help.

Go ahead – size up freelancing to see if the fit is right for you.

2. Cheat-sheet to freelance genius: Highlight your skills and thrive in the best market
You don’t have to be a freelancer in the exact same field you work now. Start taking stock of your hard skills (like expertise in certain software programs) and your soft skills (like your ability to work well with others) to determine where you can excel.

Need help? Consider taking a career assessment test to help identify awesome traits that could be turned into a freelance gig.

Then get creative as you think about your next move. If you pay great attention to detail, you may want to explore freelance work as a corporate event or wedding planner, or a personal assistant. Skilled with numbers? Maybe a tax preparer or a math tutor.

A suggestion: “Start keeping a Win and Compliments book to keep all the positive feedback you get in regards to your work, and the milestones you hit. This will not only allow you to ‘own’ your awesomeness, but it will help with branding yourself so you can do the work you want to do with the clients you want to do it with.” – Michelle Ward

Ready to nail down the best freelance field for you? We’re ready to help.

3. You’re more than just a resume: How to refine your personal brand then own it
How do your skills translate to services you’ll provide? That’s the central question you want to answer with your resume.

“Nowadays, people don’t have the time or attention span to consume content that isn’t relevant to them. (Resumes are, in fact, content.). Relevance is the intersection of what people want to hear and what you want to say. It’s imperative to find this balance in your resume for each job to which you’re applying, if you want someone to actually look at and consider it.” – Josh Hoffman, founder of Epic Freelancing

Really nailing your resume may require the help of a professional. You can start your search for a good resume writer with theProfessional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.

“You know it’s time to consult a resume expert when your resume looks like every other resume out there.” – Josh Hoffman

Start retooling that resume now with more“best resume ever” tips.

4. You’ve got this, but you’ve gotta share it with the world. How to be noticed online
Your social media presence is an important piece of your personal branding as a freelancer.

Fakhri-sa, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Need to become visible online right now? Hit your social media accounts. LinkedIn, check. Facebook, check. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest … you get the gist.

But what about Upwork? How about private networking communities on Facebook? When it comes to social media as a freelancer, there’s more than meets the eye. (But you’ve gotta make sure what meets the eye looks professional first.)

It’s also a must to support your social media presence with an awesome website. “Having your own website lends legitimacy and credibility to your business, and it provides you with a professional platform to outline your services and expertise.” – Sagan Morrow, small business coach and blogger

Let us walk you through a checklist of what you should look like online as a freelancer.

5. Networking 411: How to reach out and use your network as a new freelancer
Let’s talk networking! Reaching out to your people — old and new — is a crucial step in growing …more

Rawpixel Ltd, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Networking! Could there be a bigger buzzword?

But guess what – activating your social and professional networks pays off, and it’s a gift that will keep on giving. Set the groundwork for future success by learning the right way to tell friends, family and colleagues about your new venture.

Be ready at every turn to share what you are up to with a succinct “elevator pitch.”

“An elevator pitch empowers you to have clarity around your message and the services you offer. Make sure you phrase it naturally so it doesn’t come off as stilted or awkward in conversation.” – Sagan Morrow

And be ready to work right now – or sooner! You never know when a conversation might lead to the line you are waiting for: “I have this job ….”

Let us help you gain star status in the networking world.

6. Money, money, money: How to decide on the right rate to charge as a new freelancer
Decide from the get-go what you want to be paid for your work, and price yourself fairly.

“So much of pricing and negotiating is tied up with our own beliefs about what we are worth. In the long run, and even though you’ll lose some business, you don’t want to be the Dollar Store and you don’t want clients who wish you were. The best clients (and projects) are the people who appreciate the value you provide and who are willing to pay for it. Try not to sell yourself short.” – Michael Katz, marketing expert

Some things to consider when setting your rates include your location, market, demand and visibility. Talk to other freelancers in your network about how they price themselves; freelancers are known for their willingness to share.

You may need to adjust pricing as you go, but always approach this critical part of your business with confidence. Never forget that you only get to keep doing this is if you are making money!

“Don’t ask, tell. Freelancers are not second class employees. We are business owners, on equal footing with our clients. It’s up to you, therefore, after talking to a prospective client, to scope the job and attach a fee.” –Michael Katz

We have more tips on how to nail the money side of your freelance business.

7. Score big: Learn how to create an awesome freelance proposal and contract
Freelance jobs don’t just fall into your lap (unless you are very lucky – in which case skip to the next item on this checklist). When an opportunity arises, you need to be able to pitch yourself as the best person for the job. While fellow freelancers may be friendly, they also will compete with you for the best work.

“All freelancers have their own secret sauce. Look at a client profile, assess the client, and then bid appropriately based on your skills and what you’re willing to work for.” –Rich Pearson, senior vice president of marketing at Upwork

The best way to understand how to approach a pitch? Talk to the client. Be genuine in your interest in their needs.

Be curious and explore what challenges they’re having in their business, then figure out how you can help them. No one likes being pitched, but everyone wants a better life so when you focus on the latter and how you can help them, you build relationships.” – Sagan Morrow

A good proposal leads to a good job. Learn more about writing a great proposal.

8. Setting yourself up for success with basic freelance rules, guidelines and infrastructure (oh my!)
Managing time and client expectations are keys to a smooth and successful freelance career.

SIphotography, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Clients have questions about how you work. Do you have answers?

Get organized – now. Be clear on how you handle deadlines, revisions, invoicing, etc. Get all the details laid out up front, aligning your expectations with those of your client.

“During the idea generation phase, you need to establish the top three priorities for the project, and know the difference between what must happen to make the project great, versus what would be nice but isn’t one of the top priorities.” – life coach Kate Swoboda, Your Courageous Life

A big part of mastering the freelance universe is managing your time to get work done without killing your private life. Discipline = less stress and more time for yourself.

“Freelancing ebbs and flows, so there are moments when the schedule can get a little wonky – purposefully scheduling downtime helps to balance things out.” – John Waire, freelance photographer

Organization and time management – you can always be tweaking these two pillars of freelance success.

9. The skinny on freelance finances: How to get comfortable with income, taxes and expenses
When you’re a freelancer, you won’t be getting that steady paycheck every two weeks. Get ready for some ups and downs in cash flow, and plan accordingly.

Understand what it means to be self-employed, and the legal and financial obligations that come with that reality. (Read between the lines: TAXES.) Turbo Tax is one of the DIY tools available to help small businesses manage finances.

“There are three key things that freelancers can do to be proactive and avoid trouble at tax time: 1) Keep meticulous financial records; 2) Pay estimated taxes as mentioned above; and 3) Seek help from a tax professional if they have questions about their individual situation.” – Jonathan Medows, CPA for Freelancers

Keeping your books is as important as the freelance work you do. It may not be as much fun, but it is every bit as important.

We can’t guarantee financial genius status, but we make this area of the freelance worlda little less intimidating.

10. The real deal on goal-setting and moving forward as a freelancer
When do you up the ante? Here are some things to do to figure out when and how you can bring your freelancing to the next level, whether that means taking on new clients, charging higher rates, or pivoting your focus.

“I prescribe the 80/20 rule for entrepreneurship — 20% of the work you do should amount to 80% of the money you make. And 80% of the work you do should be fulfilling enough to push along the money-making work. Are you enjoying what you’re doing? Making the money you should? If not, it’s time to pivot.” – Dan Fost, freelance writer


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