As I sit and write this, the economic news is not good. People across the country are being told to shelter in place and to only come out for “essential activities.” Like everyone else, I hope this situation doesn’t last much longer and that everyone returns to excellent health and the economy picks right back up the way it used to be. But, even if everything follows that best-case scenario, this crisis really shows how vulnerable we are to sudden disruptions.
The time has come. We need to learn how to make money online. We need to focus on essential industries and learn the skills that will make us indispensable to employers so that we are able to work at home and earn our living completely online no matter what the economy decides to do.
What are the Essential Industries?
There are actually more essential industries than you might think. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the essential industries include”
- Healthcare and Public Health,
- Law Enforcement, Public Safety, and Other First Responders,
- Transportation and Logistics,
- Utility Workers such as Energy, Water Supply, Plumbers, and Electricians,
- Communications and Information Technology,
- Essential Government Functions such as Elections and the Courts
- Critical Manufacturing
- Financial Services
- Chemical and Hazardous Materials
- Residential Services
- Hygiene Items
To all of these, I would add Education, because these are generally jobs you need some sort of training to be hired. But that doesn’t need to be scary. There is so much help available to help you get through a course of study and get a credential that is truly amazing. The list covers a lot of ground, and any one of these essential functions which can be done on a computer is also able to be done at home. If you are qualified to do one of them, you automatically know how to make money at home online. You certainly want to have the flexibility to just stay home and keep working in a crisis.
But Don’t Those Qualifications Require a College Degree?
Not necessarily. College Degrees are well and good and can lead to great jobs. But they can also be dead-ends as far as a career goes. I think of two of my sisters as cases in point. One of them graduated with high honors from a fine art program in ceramics. She was voted most likely to go to graduate school. But after discovering that her degree did not lead to meaningful work, she took a vocational program in drafting. It was those skills that eventually led to her job with a major utility company where she maps out the necessary steps for construction crews to move electrical poles on a computer. There is a lot more to her job and it is very high-level, but it grew out of her vocational skills. She is securely employed at home during the current emergency.
Another sister was an education major. She left school before finishing her student teaching, so she can’t use that credential to get a job. But after leaving college, she took a vocational course in computer coding. Now she works for a major corporation in the quality control area. She tries to find ways to make the newly written code malfunction by entering data wrong or using it incorrectly. She has been working on a computer at home even though she was sent an official letter to carry with her in case she gets pulled over on her way to work during the quarantine. Her job is in Information Technology and is considered essential.
Both of these are examples of careers that can be done at home online that grew out of technical certificates instead of college degrees, so the answer is no, you don’t need a college degree to make money at home online.
But What if I’m Not a Great Student?
That actually isn’t the right question to ask. The right question is, “How motivated are you?” Nowadays the vocational training schools and college campuses have Offices of Student Success. They coach and tutor students through the rough patches and help them get through to graduation. Federal programs target disabled students, minorities, and students who are the first in their families to go beyond high school for special help. All of those services are provided to students without charge.
The real battle comes in whether you believe in yourself and your future goals enough to persist when the going gets tough. I remember when I went back to get a vocational certificate after bombing out in college. I had been in pre-med but I had discovered sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. It was the seventies. So after thrashing around for a long time working fast-food jobs and generally being miserable, I decided that I could hold my crazy life together long enough to graduate a six-months dental assisting program. I was sleeping on my sister’s couch at the time.
Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong! My husband left me for a while. He eventually called me from Nashville and couldn’t remember how he got there. When he came back my sister wouldn’t let him in the house so he had to sneak into a partially flooded church basement to sleep. I rode a bus to get to my classes, and I had to walk half a mile to get to the bus stop at each end. I was bitten by a mosquito and my brain got infected and I became temporarily paralyzed (yes, really!), so had to learn to use my hands to be able to write again. I was forced to take a leave of absence and finish with the next class. But I somehow managed to hang in there and believe in what I was doing. I think my fear of being stuck working fast food for the rest of my life was part of my motivation.
When I graduated I was completely surprised when they called me up on stage and gave me a dozen red roses and a plaque for being the dental assisting student of the year! My normally disapproving father cried like a baby because he was so proud of me. It was an amazing experience. I’m not telling you all this to blow my own horn. I want you to understand that motivation is the true measure of whether you will succeed. Do you have what it takes to keep going? How badly do you want to be able to make money at home online? The resources are out there to help you if you are willing to use them.
But I have no money
Then you are in an ideal situation. Federal Financial Aid is geared toward helping the truly needy. If you are needy enough, you can qualify for a free ride, and may even receive money to put toward living expenses. If you have never earned a bachelor’s degree then you might qualify for a Pell Grant, which is not a loan. It is money that you do not have to pay back. Even if you do need to borrow money to get training, the Stafford Loan Program does not depend on your credit at all. They do not even check your credit, and you can borrow enough to earn several college degrees with the funds that are available. I just finished my second master’s degree. Repayment does not begin until six months after graduation, and it is possible to tie your payment amount to how much money you are making so that it will fit in your budget.
All you need to do to qualify for Federal Financial Aid is to be a financially needy student who is enrolled in any accredited degree program, starting with vocational degrees. For example, everything from my diploma in dental assisting to my master’s degrees were paid for with financial aid. It provided me with enough money to pay for school and extra to help with my living expenses, every step of the way.
It gets more complicated if you do have money but it is not enough to qualify for financial aid. But, as long as you are truly needy, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get some career training. It changes lives. My sister’s lives were changed. My life was changed. Not only is our work more rewarding, but we have learned to make money at home online. In these uncertain financial times, that is the most secure anyone can be.
If Not Now, Then When?
As I write this, ten million Americans applied for unemployment last week alone. We are stuck sitting in our homes except for a few essential activities. It is a time of great anxiety and fear. No-one knows how long the pandemic will last or what things will be like when we are allowed back out again. But the essential industries are taking on greater importance in our economy. Information Technology, for example, is booming. Even technical degrees in the essential industries are more valuable than they were a couple of weeks ago.
Education is quickly reorganizing itself to be delivered almost exclusively online. It is something you can do while you are sitting at home and unable to work. Online classes are particularly helpful when it comes to learning how to make money at home online because they build the necessary computer skills. In this blog, I plan to explore this issue in more depth and Pay Forward what I have learned and what I have gained from my education. I know the lay of the land. I understand what an important opportunity is waiting for you if you are interested in taking it. I hope you decide to subscribe to my blog so I can begin to share with you everything I have learned.