Incidentally, the punch line to this one:
Is ironic because the luthier who I learned to make guitars from did, in fact, build himself a beautiful (seriously, it is GORGEOUS) house from scratch, and in fact supported himself for years building houses with the woodworking knowledge he acquired learning to make guitars in high school, before reaching the point where he could make guitars full time. I checked his web site the other day, right now you would have to pay HIM ,000 for the privilege of working as his assistant for a year.
Also I have an uncle who at his peak output was making over a million dollars a year crafting high end rings. He learned to do it by taking a superhuman amount of acid in the 60s and then spending 5 years living in a treehouse in central Mexico.
Oh, and I've personally seen someone else who was friends with my family for quite a few years before moving away and drifting out of touch sell a single guitar for over ,000 (he makes 4 or 5 a year). He learned by working at a shop on New York, then living with his aunt for a few years back in the 80s and spending the entire time carving hundreds of guitar necks and testing them all on the same body.
And one of my high school classmates (out of a class of 12) skipped college and went straight in to building instruments. He's been making a comfortable living making upright basses for years.
Another one of our classmates dropped out, became a junkie, taught himself to tattoo, and was making over 6 figures before he was 30. He has had one job in his entire life.
A pretty good friend of mine who went to art school has been supporting his family by drawing Big Daddy Roth style posters. He owns a pretty nice house.
A good friend of my family grew up on a kibbutz, never got any kind of degree, never learned to drive, and has been a mid level art dealer for over 30 years.
An old roommate of mine who got a photography degree and then bummed around working odd jobs and painting until his mid 30s has a really successful high end art hanging business with some big deal celebrity clients.
I'd say at least 1/3 of the people I know who got STEM degrees have had to move back in with their parents in their 30s, , or worked as things like orderlies. The only ones I can think of who did well for themselves are the two who completely abandoned their fields. My friend with a computer science degree runs a successful moving company and my friend with an organic chemistry degree went back to school and is now a dentist in NYC. The onyl person I can think of who actually did OK with a STEM degree was a postgrad student at MIT (for which they paid him around k/year plus free housing) until he was 45 and then moved to Canada. I have no idea what he's doing now.
What I'm saying is I don't have much respect for the whole "the only useful degree is STEM" meme that's so popular today. OR even the "you need a degree" one.