7 High Paying Careers You Can Get Without a Bachelor’s Degree
Looking to change your career? You might be surprised to find that you may not need a bachelor’s degree in order to qualify for a job with a nice salary. The list below offers some examples of careers that may pay $45,000 or more per year and they don’t require a bachelor’s degree!
Network and Computer Systems Administrator
Are you skilled with computers and a good problem solver? Perhaps you would enjoy a career as a network and computer systems administrator. It would be your responsibility to “organize, install, and support an organization’s computer systems, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems.”1
Although many companies do prefer a bachelor’s degree, some employers in this field are willing to hire applicants with only a post secondary certificate. Software-specific certification for certain products, such as those offered by Microsoft or Cisco, may also help to give you a competitive edge where these products are in use.
Expect to work full time, spending most of your time in an office setting. According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2012 median salary was $72,560 per year, or $34.88 per hour.2
With an associate’s degree or post secondary certification from a vocational-technical school or community college, you are eligible to enter a career as an electro-mechanical technician, potentially earning a salary around $52,000 a year, or about $25 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Your duties would likely include using mechanical and mathematical skills as well as dexterity to install, operate, and maintain computer controlled mechanical systems.
Most employers are manufacturing or engineering firms, but you may also work on scientific or research projects, operate navigation systems, or even work in the mining industry. Most jobs in this field would require you to work a regular shift and to follow safety procedures to avoid injury or exposure to hazardous materials.3
Geological and Petroleum Technicians
If you like the idea of not being tied to a desk and enjoy field work, you might look to a career as a geological or petroleum technician. You need to be in good physical condition in order to hike to remote areas and transport samples and equipment. You also need an associate’s degree or two years of post secondary training in applied science or science related technology.
Scientists and engineers rely on geological and petroleum technicians as they search out natural resources such as minerals, petroleum, and natural gas. Your duties would include conducting scientific experiments, recording data, and producing reports. Your work would take you from the office to the field and into the laboratory, and you might make around $52,700 per year, or about $25 per hour, according to 2012 data listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.4
Occupational Therapy Assistants
Employment for occupational therapy assistants is predicted by the United States Department of Labor to grow much faster than the average for all occupations.5 This is largely due to the aging and increased longevity of American baby boomers. An associate’s degree from an accredited program is usually required, as well as CPR certification. Occupational therapy assistants work with occupational therapists to create and implement plans to improve patients’ ability to live independently, perform everyday tasks, and to work around lost motor skills.
As an occupational therapy assistant, you would work directly with patients in the hospital, a nursing facility, or in an occupational therapy office. You would also be expected to fill out appropriate paperwork and insurance forms and maybe assist with everyday office tasks, such as appointment scheduling and phone calls. Average salary is in the range of $53,240 per year or $25.59 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.6
Computer Support Specialists
If you are tech-savvy, have excellent communication skills and like to solve complex problems, your skills could land you a job as a computer support specialist. In this role, you would provide assistance to customers experiencing log-in difficulties or operating system and software malfunctions. Many employers will require an associate’s degree at entry level, and you should expect to continue your training and education throughout your career to keep up with this quickly changing field.7
Many computer support specialists have regular daytime or office hours, but since computer support must often be available 24 hours a day, some will work night shifts. Annual salary aver-ages $48,900, or $23.51 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent data.8
Registered nurses can work in a wide variety of areas in the medical field to provide patient care and educate patients and the public. Most work directly with patients. This may be in a hospital, nursing care facility or doctor’s office, or in an institution such as a school. Some nurses do not work directly with patients – these may work as healthcare consultants, public policy advisors, researchers, or in administration.
To become a registered nurse you need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program and a nursing license. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists median annual salary for a registered nurse at $65,470 or $31.48 per hour.9 The unemployment rate for registered nurses is just 2 percent and employment in this field is also growing fast-er than the average for all occupations.10
According to the American Dental Association, a career as a dental hygienist can be rewarding and satisfying, especially if you enjoy working with people. Hygienists may work with people from all walks of life, from young children to the elderly. Dental hygienists clean and examine teeth and educate patients about dental hygiene. They can work full-time or part-time; in fact, more than half of dental hygienists work part-time.11
The median annual salary for a dental hygienist is $70,210 or $33.75 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment as a dental hygienist is another quickly growing field, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics citing employment growth as “much faster” than average.11
These are just a few careers that you can pursue without a bachelor’s degree, and as discussed, several of them are in fast-growing fields and open to those with an associate’s degree or post-secondary certificate.
Please keep in mind employment and income cannot be guaranteed by any educational institution for students or graduates. Additionally, salary data cited in this article is based on median data provided by the United States Department of Labor, does not reflect starting or entry level salaries, and can vary widely based on geographic location.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-Edition, Network and Computer Systems Administrators, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm
2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-Edition, Network and Computer Systems Administrators, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm
3Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Electro-mechanical Technicians,
4Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Geological and Petroleum Technicians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/geological-and-petroleum-technicians.htm
5US News and World Report: Money, Best Health Care Jobs: Occupational Therapy Assistant, on the Internet at http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/occupational-therapy-assistant
6Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapy-assistants-and-aides.htm
7US News and World Report: Money, Best Technology Jobs: Computer Support Specialist, http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/computer-support-specialist
8Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Computer Support Specialists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm
9Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Registered Nurses, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm
10US News and World Report: Money, Best Health Care Jobs: Registered Nurse, http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/registered-nurse
11American Dental Association: Education/Careers, Dental Hygienist, http://www.ada.org/en/education-careers/careers-in-dentistry/dental-team-careers/dental-hygienist