5 Jobs in Demand That Pay Well and Don’t Require a College Degree

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Conventional wisdom has it that, if you want to get a good job that pays well, you need a college degree.

But if you’re looking for jobs in demand, five of the professions expected to see the most new jobs this year not only don’t require a four-year degree, they can pay more than the average $46,000 salary of a college graduate. Get one of these jobs, and you may be the envy of a humanities major with a job paying less than $30,000 a year or no job at all.

The U.S. Department of Labor lists the fastest growing professions and the professions expected to have the most openings by the amount of education required. Some of those jobs require only a high school diploma, some call for short-term vocational training and some require a two-year community college degree.

Health-related jobs are in high demand, and many medical jobs that don’t require a four-year degree pay well. Moody’s Economy recently reported that the number of jobs in education and health services will rise 2.2% this year, double the national average of 1.1 % for all jobs.

Great Jobs in Demand

Here’s a look at the five jobs in demand that don’t require a college degree, pay well, and are expected to have the most openings:

  1. Registered nurse. The U.S. Department of Labor projects 103,900 new openings this year. Although you can earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing, community colleges offer two-year RN programs. Registered nurses make an average of $47,700 to $69,800 a year. Top earners, however, take home an average of more than $83,400 a year, according to the Nursing Schools website.
  2. Licensed practical nurse and licensed vocational nurse. This group will see 39,130 more positions this year. Training takes about a year. The median pay is about $39,000 a year with the top 10 percent of wage earners taking in more than $53,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  3. Computer support specialist. The feds estimate this high-paying field will grow 23,460 jobs in 2010. Computer specialists usually need an associate’s degree from a community college. Their reward is a fat paycheck. The median annual salary for a network or computer systems administrator is $66,130, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent break into six figures or about $104,000 a year.
  4. Hair dresser, hair stylist and cosmetologist. You can’t outsource haircuts overseas, so hair dressers can expect more jobs to open up as the U.S. population grows. The job requires vocational training. Most make $30,000 to $50,000 a year but top earners can easily crack six figures. It helps to have people skills as many hairdressers rely on tips – which can be $300 or more a week.
  5. Auto service agent, technician and mechanic. This trade can be learned in high school or on the job. The average pay is about $40,000 a year, but many earn more.

Other jobs that pay well, don’t require college degrees and are expected to have openings are insurance salesperson; heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic and installer; real estate agent; welder, cutter, solderer and brazer; paralegal and legal assistant; dental hygienist; radiologic technologist and technician; and respiratory therapist.

Even for these jobs in demand, people may need to move to find work: Texas is strong in job growth while Michigan, no surprise, continues to shed jobs.

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Comments & discussion

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  • http://www.onlinelpnprograms.com/ online LPN

    I have PN degree.But i have not any license.Is there any job for me.I know its very difficult to find a job without any licensed degree.So i suggest to all folks who are thinking for nursing that always try to take licensed degree of nursing.Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    I’m surprised that police person wasn’t on the list.  High school degree and  in California and also in many other states, obscenely excessive pay including all manor of extras and add-ons, over the top retirement plans, and for the faint of heart, an on the job fatality rate that is significantly less than a farm worker, or construction worker or an electrician and also many other common occupations.  Of course it also helps if you enjoy inflicting pain, are indiffrent to the impact your actions have on others and have relaxed ethical standards..

  • Tim Lum

    Yes J_H_M, a Police Officer in major California cities can earn over 100gs a year with OT, and all they have to do is work in Oakland, Richmond, East LA, Compton, Sacramento, Madera County, wearing 25 lbs of armor and equipment, drive, communicate, watch, listen, respond when called to wherever they are called, decide what laws are broken, civil or criminal, defuse domestic, landlord tenant, labor and neighbor disputes, enforce traffic regs., submit to 12-18 months of grueling application, training and testing before being allowed to go near the public who they will answer to their entire careers.  Sometimes, after 10 years working patrol, an officer can get a cushy job working undercover against the Mexican Mafia, MS-13, Nuestra Familia, Los Zetas, Hells Angels, Kumi 415, Black Guerrilla Family, Nazi Low Riders, Aryan Brotherhood.  A handpicked few may be selected to be on a SWAT team to serve search and arrest warrants on members of these Boys clubs, which is really a cushy 24/7 job that folks are beating down the doors to get, because it’s so easy.  Did I mention testifying in Court in front of a juries who also understand police work is like TV, with hot babes working CSI and car chases where no one is crushed, and a rifle shot to the arm wounds rather than explodes the bone. Average Cop dies within 5 years of retirement due to that easy, over-paid life-style he just left. Yup! Sounds like a job for you…

    • Anonymous

      According to Cal PERS police live about as long after retirement as other retirees in the system.  According to U.S. Labor Department data, police work is relatively safe compared to many other occupations.  Nationally, working as a police person is safer than working as, for example, a farm worker or a truck driver or an electrician.  The state controller maintains a database of local government (and of state salaries) which is accessible from link on his home page.  Notice how much more a typical police person is paid based on the amount on its W2, compared to the top step of its salary range–this due to all the extras, add-on’s and of course overtime.  The hazardous nature of police work is a well cultivated fiction, used to justify extraordinary salaries and unconscionable pension benefits, including typically a 3% at 50 or 55 which can result in a 90 percent pension, with take home from the pension more than when the police person was working.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Susan-Watterson/100001484119525 Susan Watterson

    I graduated from high school in 1968 and started college the next fall.  Even then It was obvious that people who had college educations did not earn more money than people who did not.  My salary now is only $35,000.  I do have a pension, health, and dental benefits.  A college education is about being an informed citizen.  I was exposed to creative, challenging subjects that expanded my mind and prepared me to be a life-long learner.  I was required to take subjects that I might not have chosen to explore otherwise.  College taught me to think and reason.  I would not trade that for anything.

  • Anonymous

    This list is bogus. Since when do you not need a degree to be a nurse?

  • Anonymous

    Dental hygienist does require a college education. 2 years of college and 2 years of hygiene school.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HVJKRAT6EBXI57NXA2TVSODMJY natalie

      A DENTAL ASST CAN CLEAN TEETH TO AN EXTENT.

  • http://www.facebook.com/larryvaughn Larry Vaughn

    A computer support specialist is not a network administrator. They are different jobs and the network administrator typically has more training and more responsibility. I’m wondering if the ITT tech ad has something to do with this listing.