We all know the names of these famous billionaires and how they acquired their fortunes - we even dream of making it big that way ourselves. Ever wonder how these rich successful people got their start? Here are some famous billionaires' first jobs. (Quit your job, be your own boss and earn a paycheck. Find out what to do to make it happen. Read Start Your Own Small Business.)
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- Warren Buffett
Net Worth: $47 Billion
First Job: Newspaper Delivery Boy
Warren Buffett started working on his billion-dollar empire when he was just a boy: at age 13, he had his first job running a newspaper delivery business. Already a budding businessman, Buffett even deducted his bike from his taxes that year. He went on to start a pinball machine business as a teen, looking for business opportunity wherever he went, graduating college with a $10,000 profit from his business ventures. It's no wonder that today so many look to Warren Buffett for investment advice.
Net Worth: $2.7 Billion
First Job: Grocery Store Clerk
Oprah Winfrey is one of those women who are in charge of their destiny - she just seems to get better and richer with everything she does. However, Winfrey got her start in an average menial job at the grocery store next to her father's Nashville barber shop. She quickly made her move to broadcasting, reading the news for the local radio station by age 16, and moved her way up to the media powerhouse she is today. (For additional reading, see Measuring The "Oprah Effect".)
Net Worth: $18 Billion
First Job: Parking Lot Attendant
Michael Bloomberg is best known for his investment and political career, but before his success, he worked as a parking lot attendant. As the son of middle-class parents, Bloomberg paid his college tuition by working, and eventually went on to graduate with an MBA from Harvard. He got his start on Wall Street at Salomon, and is now one of the wealthiest people in America - but even billionaires like Michael Bloomberg have to start somewhere.
Net Worth: $53 Billion
First Job: Programmer
Who doesn't know Microsoft's Bill Gates? Competitor Apple may like to poke fun at Microsoft's less-than-cool image, but Bill Gates is laughing all the way to the bank. This Harvard college drop-out followed his passion for tech from a young age: his first job was as a computer programmer for TRW during his senior year in high school. Gates is now the richest person in America - proving that being a computer geek can really pay off. In 2008, he stepped down from the daily running of Microsoft to focus on his philanthropic endeavors with wife Melinda; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to improve education, fight hunger and develop vaccinations.
- Steve Jobs
Net Worth: $5.5 Billion
First Job: Summer Job at HP
Maybe Steve Jobs' competitor has almost 10 times his net worth, but we can all agree that a $5.5 billion bottom line isn't bad. The Apple founder got his start at HP when he was just in high school, where he met future Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Despite Apple's success, the bulk of Jobs' fortune comes from digital animation company Pixar, which he sold to Disney for a cool $7.4 billion.
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- Giorgio Armani
Net Worth: $5.3 Billion
First Job: Assistant Photographer
It's easy to forget that even a fashion guru like Giorgio Armani has to earn his reputation. Born to an average Italian family, Armani grew up loving theater and fashion. He got his first job at Milan department store La Rinascente, as an assistant photographer, though he was quickly promoted to the store's style office as a buyer. Without any formal training, Giorgio Armani has since worked his way to the reputable designer and fashion magnate we know today.
- George Lucas
Net Worth: $3 Billion
First Job: Teaching Assistant
When you think of George Lucas, you think "Star Wars," the iconic series that made him his fortune. Lucas' start working in film came early, but humbly: as a teaching assistant for the U.S. Military's camera men. George Lucas went on to pursue an apprenticeship with Francis Coppola, and eventually developed his own name as a Hollywood icon - with a $3 billion fortune to show for his hard and creative work.
The Bottom Line
We all know that starting as a newspaper boy or parking lot attendant doesn't promise you'll be a billionaire. What is interesting to note about the careers of these billionaires is that they discovered their passion at an early age, be it technology, investing, fashion or film, proving that following your passion can pay, in the billions if you're tenacious enough. (Here's a look at some of these self-made female billionaires, and what characteristics these exceptionally wealthy ladies have in common. Check out 5 Self-Made Female Billionaires.)
For the latest financial news, see Water Cooler Finance: The Beginning Of A Foreclosure Crisis?
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