Salary Range: Low Start, High Finish

In the marketplace, there are the jobs that start off at the bottom and stay there, but there are also opportunities that start at the bottom and reap great rewards later (no, we're not talking about the lottery!). One of those vocational opportunities is working as a stockbroker, which is the centerpiece of the holiday film The Pursuit of Happyness.

Unlike the typical good date movies that open during the holidays, Will Smith plays a homeless man (with son in tow) who takes a job as an intern at Dean Witter with hopes of working his way up to a stockbroker gig. That’s pretty much how it works in the real world too. Surprisingly, there is no diploma or degree required to be a stockbroker, you can be a Harvard grad or a high school drop-out (although, I suspect a college degree doesn’t hurt).

As in The Pursuit of Happyness, most future stockbrokers start off in an internship training program (which usually doesn't pay or pays little); then they must pass several licensing exams. After that gauntlet, most rookie stockbrokers don’t survive because the job is commission based. For those who do, the average salary for a stockbroker in New York is $91,130. And top performers can earn a high-end annual salary of $160,914! That’s going from homeless to some serious stockbroker respect!

How does your salary compare to the market? Crunch the numbers with our salary calculator.

Video Game Designer Career Options

These days many computer geeks have their eyes set on video game designer profits. A video game designer salary in California averages about $53,087, but a top designer could earn an annual salary up to $75,609. However, becoming a video game designer can be as difficult as your grandma trying to win at Halo. The starting salaries in the video game industry are low because so many people are vying for the same entry level jobs.

A lot of people start off as video game testers, earning low salaries. Game testers perform quality assurance and find glitches before a game is released. They are usually hired through temp agencies and may work for a few months for long hours and low pay. Still, it gets your foot in the door.

While you’re testing games, you may have an opportunity to showcase your ideas, crossover to the artistic side and work your way up to game designer. Unpaid internships are another way in, sometimes interns or entry level people get an opportunity to be level designers, who create game play and interesting storylines within established games.

realtor.com

People just starting out in real estate often find the first few months to be pretty lean as they try to land their first sale. The rule of thumb for most new real estate agents is “save up enough money to live on for six months,” because that’s usually how long it takes to get your initial sale;  this time period might be a good time to load up on Ramen noodles!

Newbies have to learn the market, how to negotiate, close a deal, show a house, find lenders etc… There are other factors as well; interest rates and markets vary from area to area. But once you get some sales under your belt and learn how to juggle leads, you could make a very good living. In California, a real estate agent with 1-4 years experience earns an average salary of $90,375, and could earn an annual salary of $171,854.

Service Providers For Modern Apprenticeships

If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, literally, then you might consider becoming a licensed plumber. These handy men with perpetual wet hands can eventually make a large annual salary, if they can brave the lean times. A licensed plumber is one of those jobs that require internship participation, specifically, working three years as an apprentice plumber. During this time, you work under a master plumber and gain experience in planning, installing, maintaining and learning about quick connects for household plumbing.

In an accredited apprenticeship program, you would make an average of $14.05 per hour in Washington State, which isn't bad compared to an unpaid internship, but you have to do a lot of the dirty work that your mentor would rather avoid. In Washington State, after you pass an exam, get your license and become a master plumber, you can earn an average salary of $25.72 an hour, or up to $35.05.

Latest Hollywood Gossip

Working as a Hollywood talent agent might seem very glamorous from the outside, but the climb from mailroom to assistant agent to agent can be low paying, brutal and long. If you start in a large agency’s mailroom, expect a pay rate of $400-$500 per week. If you’re lucky enough to become an assistant, the pay rate is usually between $500-$600 per week; BTW those wages never adjust for inflation in Tinsel Town, that has been the annual salary for years.

As you learn how to be a talent agent, you’ll work well over 40 hours a week, but don’t expect overtime pay while answering phones, rolling calls and submitting talent for jobs.  Also, you may have to work for “yellers” and “screamers.” If you survive this dysfunctional career ladder, and make it to agent, then your income is based on commission. For a talent agent in California, the average salary is $73,583, but could reach a whopping $100,115! It could reach even higher if you rep Will Smith!

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