Five Jobs That Don't Require A Bachelor's Degree...And Pay More Than Those That Do

You don't need to earn a bachelor's degree in order to pursue a high-paying career. Read on for our list of careers that just require an associate's degree.

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The Value and Cost of a 4-Year Degree

Earning a degree can help you improve your lifetime earning potential, but a 4-year bachelor's degree doesn't come cheap. The average annual cost of attending a 4-year degree program was $15,605 at a public school and a whopping $31,975 at a private school for the 2010-2011 academic year (http://nces.ed.gov). Over 4 years, that comes out to $62,420 and $127,900 respectively - not to mention the time you have to spend earning your degree.

The good news is that you don't have to earn a 4-year degree in order to have a satisfying career. We've identified five high-paying careers that you can pursue with a 2-year associate's degree - that's half the time and half the money to get started in your new career!

According to The National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average starting salary in 2012 for someone with a bachelor's degree was $44,259. Our five picks have an average median salary over $62,000 (starting salaries may be lower) and only require two years or less of education!

Five High Paying Career Options That Don't Require a Bachelor's Degree

The numbers below come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Network Administrator

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2012 Median Pay $72,560/year, $34.88/hour
2012 Top 10% Pay: $115,180/year, $55.38/hour
10-Year Job Outlook (2012-2022) 12% growth (As fast as average)
Educational Requirement: Associate's degree

These professionals are responsible for maintaining a company's network system. They handle network installation and support and implement safety measures to protect computer systems. In a typical day, you might diagnose network problems, configure computer hardware or monitor data backups. To get started as a network administrator, you need an associate's degree in information technology or computer science along with work experience in a related field. In addition to offering a relatively high salary, network administrators have a strong employment outlook because employers will increasingly be concerned with network security. Salary and employment data represent national data and are not guaranteed. More Info

Editor's Top Program Pick:

Kaplan University: AASIT in Network Systems Administration


Dental Hygienist

Dental Hygienist

2012 Median Pay: $70,210/year, $33.75/hour
2012 Top 10% Pay: $96,280/year, $46.29/hour
10-Year Job Outlook (2012-2022): 33% growth (Much faster than average)
Educational Requirement: Associate's degree

Dental hygienists clean teeth and educate patients on appropriate dental care. They perform many critical functions in a dental office, including taking dental x-rays, tracking patient care, and completing the patient's cleaning. To get started as a dental hygienist working in a private dental office, you just need a certificate or an associate's degree as well as any required state licensure. Most programs include a combination of classroom instruction and clinical practice. This profession will enjoy robust growth between 2010 and 2020 due to aging populations requiring additional dental treatments and new research that links oral health with general health. However, demand for dental hygienists may decline during economic slowdowns. Salary and employment data represent national data and are not guaranteed. More Info


Registered Nurse

Nurse

2012 Median Pay: $65,470/year, $31.48/hour
2012 Top 10% Pay: $94,720/year, $45.54/hour
10-Year Job Outlook (2012-2022): 19% growth (Faster than average)
Educational Requirement: Associate's degree

Registered nurses (RNs) are the front line of many hospitals and doctor's offices. They complete a variety of duties, including performing diagnostic tests, consulting with doctors, and helping patients understand how to manage their health. RNs may oversee other nurses in the organization. RN degrees are offered at a variety of levels, but an associate's degree is typically the minimum requirement to enter the field, along with a nursing license. To advance as an RN, you may need an additional degree, but many healthcare organizations provide tuition reimbursements. Like other health care professions, the RN profession is growing faster than average. You'll also have many options for work locations, including hospitals, out-patient centers, and in-home care. Salary and employment data represent national data and are not guaranteed. More Info


Computer Support Specialist

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2012 Median Pay: $43,450/year, $20.89/hour
2012 Top 10% Pay: $70,750/year, $34.01/hour
10-Year Job Outlook (2012-2022): 17% growth (Faster than average)
Educational Requirement: Associate's degree

A computer networking support specialist installs, troubleshoots and supports internal and external networks and computers. In this occupation, you can work in a wide range of industries, including technology, medical, legal, business, academic and government. Associate degree programs that can prepare you for this job include information technology, network support, administration or security. The job outlook for computer support specialists is expected to be as fast as average, but strong growth is expected in healthcare fields. Salary and employment data represent national data and are not guaranteed. More Info

Editor's Top Program Pick:

Strayer University: AA in Information Technology


Paralegal or Legal Assistant

Law

2012 Median Pay: $46,990/year, $22.59/hour
2012 Top 10% Pay: $75,410/year, $36.25/hour
10-Year Job Outlook (2012-2022): 17% (Faster than average)
Educational Requirement: Associate's degree

Paralegals work in law offices and assist lawyers in most aspects of law practice. A paralegal's typical tasks includes helping lawyers at trial, investigating and organizing a case's facts, and drafting documents. To get started as a paralegal, you just need an associate's degree; however, work experience or on-the-job training might help your job search. The job outlook for paralegals is solid; since much of a paralegal's work must be done in person, the job is less likely to be outsourced than others. Salary and employment data represent national data and are not guaranteed. More Info

Editor's Top Program Pick:

Kaplan University: AAS in Paralegal Studies


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The Value and Cost of a 4-Year Degree

Earning a degree can help you improve your lifetime earning potential, but a 4-year bachelor's degree doesn't come cheap. The average annual cost of attending a 4-year degree program was $15,605 at a public school and a whopping $31,975 at a private school for the 2010-2011 academic year (http://nces.ed.gov). Over 4 years, that comes out to $62,420 and $127,900 respectively - not to mention the time you have to spend earning your degree.

The good news is that you don't have to earn a 4-year degree in order to have a satisfying career. We've identified five high-paying careers that you can pursue with a 2-year associate's degree - that's half the time and half the money to get started in your new career!

According to The National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average starting salary in 2012 for someone with a bachelor's degree was $44,259. Our five picks have an average median salary over $62,000 (starting salaries may be lower) and only require two years or less of education!

Five High Paying Career Options That Don't Require a Bachelor's Degree

The numbers below come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Network Administrator

null

2012 Median Pay $72,560/year, $34.88/hour
2012 Top 10% Pay: $115,180/year, $55.38/hour
10-Year Job Outlook (2012-2022) 12% growth (As fast as average)
Educational Requirement: Associate's degree

These professionals are responsible for maintaining a company's network system. They handle network installation and support and implement safety measures to protect computer systems. In a typical day, you might diagnose network problems, configure computer hardware or monitor data backups. To get started as a network administrator, you need an associate's degree in information technology or computer science along with work experience in a related field. In addition to offering a relatively high salary, network administrators have a strong employment outlook because employers will increasingly be concerned with network security. Salary and employment data represent national data and are not guaranteed. More Info

Editor's Top Program Pick:

Kaplan University: AASIT in Network Systems Administration


Dental Hygienist

Dental Hygienist

2012 Median Pay: $70,210/year, $33.75/hour
2012 Top 10% Pay: $96,280/year, $46.29/hour
10-Year Job Outlook (2012-2022): 33% growth (Much faster than average)
Educational Requirement: Associate's degree

Dental hygienists clean teeth and educate patients on appropriate dental care. They perform many critical functions in a dental office, including taking dental x-rays, tracking patient care, and completing the patient's cleaning. To get started as a dental hygienist working in a private dental office, you just need a certificate or an associate's degree as well as any required state licensure. Most programs include a combination of classroom instruction and clinical practice. This profession will enjoy robust growth between 2010 and 2020 due to aging populations requiring additional dental treatments and new research that links oral health with general health. However, demand for dental hygienists may decline during economic slowdowns. Salary and employment data represent national data and are not guaranteed. More Info


Registered Nurse

Nurse

2012 Median Pay: $65,470/year, $31.48/hour
2012 Top 10% Pay: $94,720/year, $45.54/hour
10-Year Job Outlook (2012-2022): 19% growth (Faster than average)
Educational Requirement: Associate's degree

Registered nurses (RNs) are the front line of many hospitals and doctor's offices. They complete a variety of duties, including performing diagnostic tests, consulting with doctors, and helping patients understand how to manage their health. RNs may oversee other nurses in the organization. RN degrees are offered at a variety of levels, but an associate's degree is typically the minimum requirement to enter the field, along with a nursing license. To advance as an RN, you may need an additional degree, but many healthcare organizations provide tuition reimbursements. Like other health care professions, the RN profession is growing faster than average. You'll also have many options for work locations, including hospitals, out-patient centers, and in-home care. Salary and employment data represent national data and are not guaranteed. More Info


Computer Support Specialist

null

2012 Median Pay: $43,450/year, $20.89/hour
2012 Top 10% Pay: $70,750/year, $34.01/hour
10-Year Job Outlook (2012-2022): 17% growth (Faster than average)
Educational Requirement: Associate's degree

A computer networking support specialist installs, troubleshoots and supports internal and external networks and computers. In this occupation, you can work in a wide range of industries, including technology, medical, legal, business, academic and government. Associate degree programs that can prepare you for this job include information technology, network support, administration or security. The job outlook for computer support specialists is expected to be as fast as average, but strong growth is expected in healthcare fields. Salary and employment data represent national data and are not guaranteed. More Info

Editor's Top Program Pick:

Strayer University: AA in Information Technology


Paralegal or Legal Assistant

Law

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