07/17/2013 04:35 pm ET Updated Sep 16, 2013

Top 5 Careers for Hands-on Entrepreneurs

They say that two things in life are certain: death and taxes. In the modern world of omnipresent corporations, however, another thing that could be added to that list is the fact that if you have a boss, you won't like them. Whether it's mid-level HR employees at an accounting firm or a barista at Starbucks, most people would prefer not to work for someone else. So, it's only natural for people to dream of striking out on their own and becoming their own boss.

While it may seem impractical or even foolhardy to become self-employed, there are plenty of careers for self-starters who prefer to do things their own way. It might take a little more effort to get going, but in the long-run, it's definitely worth it.

Here's a look at five of the best careers available to people who want to say goodbye to their bosses for good.

Web Developer

Although it sometimes seems like just about everyone is getting into computer programming and web development these days, the simple fact remains that the world of e-commerce is only getting bigger, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. There are plenty of opportunities for a freelancing web developer to make a living.

More importantly, it's not as hard as you may think; many self-employed programmers and developers only have a certificate earned at a vocational center or community college program. That means that you can start coding on a freelance basis without even having a college degree. Sometimes, people can successfully launch their development careers with little more than a high school diploma.

On top of being easier to start than you might've previously thought, web developers can make an excess of $75,660 per year just by working freelance. All it really takes is some knowledge of code (particularly HTML5 and CSS), a computer, and a lot of initiative.

Hair stylist

While a career as a hair stylist is best reserved for those with a flair for style and a penchant for conversation, those who can cut it a can easily make between $20,000-$25,000 a year. All states currently require certification for hair stylists, but that only requires a course at a training salon or beauty school that lasts from six month to a year. Tuition can be pricey, but most beauty schools also help foot the bill with substantial financial aid or work-study programs.

After that, many stylists choose to open up their own salons, sometimes in the comfort of their own living room. You set your own hours, and the clients will even come to you. It's also one career that is never going out of fashion; people will always set aside time and money to make their hair beautiful.


Although working as a plumber may be a bit of a hard sell for most people, there are few other jobs that allow people to make such a substantial income while still being self employed; especially ones that don't require a college degree. In fact, when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently discussed the rising cost of college and the continually lackluster job market for graduates, he had some rather unorthodox advice:

"The people who are going to have the biggest problem are college graduates who aren't rocket scientists, if you will, not at the top of their class," Bloomberg said. "Compare a plumber to going to Harvard College -- being a plumber, actually for the average person, probably would be a better deal."

After a 4 or 5 year paid apprenticeship, plumbers can then strike out on their own with enough on-the-job experience to start their own business, and earn a median salary of $46,660 a year. Not only that, but the industry is expected to grow by approximately 26 percent through 2020, meaning that you'll never have to worry about finding work. It isn't glamorous, but as far as job security goes, you'd be hard-pressed to find another career path that will always be in demand.

Massage Therapists

Everyone needs pampering from time to time. As a result, massage therapists are one of the older careers that's still growing in need and popularity every year. Not only that, it's a sociable, low-stress job that can pay you back in dividends for what you invest. After just 500-600 hours of training, you'll be ready to get your license. Some states, however, don't even require a license at all.

Many massage therapists work in spas, hotels, or chiropractic offices, but 69 percent of all massage therapists are actually self-employed. In 2012, these massage therapists earned an average annual income of $20,789. While that may not sound like that much, consider this: the average per-hour rate for a massage therapist was also $62 last year. That means that the average massage therapist only had to work approximately 335 hours last year, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Home Contractors

Not everyone is suited for do-it-yourself home improvement. So when someone can't tell a hammer from a wrench, they turn to contractors. As a result, people with a knack for carpentry, painting, or landscaping are always in demand. In addition to just about always being able to find work, a skilled contractor can potentially make more money than any other profession on this list depending on your location.

At the low-end of the spectrum, a home contractor in North Carolina can find themselves earning an annual salary of approximately $63,000 a year, while those in the more urban areas of Illinois and New York can make an average of $72,000 and $77,000 annually. Contractors in California, meanwhile, can earn a staggering $85,000 a year, and all without ever needing a college degree.

In place of education, most home contractors get their start working in an apprenticeship with another home contractor or a contracting firm before starting a business of their own. So while you technically will still need to take orders from someone for a little while, a little hard work will ensure that you won't have to for very long.