I was thinking about this because many people I know went to college and got degree's that don't have natural placements into ways that make good money.
I realize that money isn't that important, and that many people spend time being miserable at high paying jobs.
Nevertheless, having a job that pays enough to be free of parental purse-strings, and/or free from struggling to make ends meet, and/or capable of owning one's own home, and/or having hopes of financial security in old age are all things that have some practical importance.
So I wanted to make a place to collect resources for doing just that:
1) What are some "middle class" paying jobs, that have reasonable demand?
2) What is the certification process to get qualified?
If we take $44K to be the median income:
What's the average middle class income in the U.S.? - Yahoo! Answers
What would it take to earn close to that much (or better)?
We can always start with the popular MCSE(I know a couple of people IRL who did this):
PayScale - Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) Salary, Average Salaries
It supposedly takes 700 hours according to this site:
MCSE certification training courses, Microsoft 2003 online classes
Often, becoming a DBA only requires a two year degree:
This seems like a hop directly into the middle class.
Police officers earn a middle class income:
So do firefighters:
It will take some time to get to the median income in these cases, but it is part of the career path.
If you can find enough work, Carpenters also fall in that category as well:
Dealing with people's money in generally earns good money:
You have to pass some tests, but here the path seems clear, and you need not have a particular college degree.
You can also become a Paralegal in two years:
Librarians (other than school libraries) often have 4-year degrees in a varied number of fields. So if you just got an Undergrad in something that would take a Ph.D. to become a professional in (like many of the arts and sciences), perhaps this is an option?
Photographers are paid OK (not middle class) if you have the talent:
But, think of the opportunity to travel, and do it part-time while doing something else.
Beyond all this, starting a business doing what you love to do is an option (but admittedly one I have so far been to chicken to do myself).