17 Great Jobs That Don’t Require a 4-Year College Degree

Photo (cc) by 401(K) 2013

At an early age, I was taught to study as hard as I could in school so I could get into college, land a high-paying job and retire with a hefty sum in savings.

This sounded fine and dandy, but I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to those who headed straight to the working world after high school?

Many have made the decision to do that, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 18.7 percent of Americans hold a bachelor’s degree, while 29.5 percent didn’t continue their education beyond high school. Some drop out of college, perhaps thinking they’ll be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

And you know what? Not all great-paying jobs require a four-year college degree.

In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson identifies some of those jobs. Take a look and then continue reading about more possibilities.

The average starting salary for new college graduates last year was $44,928, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The average student loan debt is about $26,000.

The good news is that you can earn comparable pay in some jobs if you head into the workforce straight out of high school or complete an associate degree.

Here are 17 jobs that don’t require a four-year degree and pay a nice salary or wage, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Note: Some of these jobs require lengthy on-the-job training and apprenticeships. Search the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook for details.

1. Dental hygienist

Median income: $70,210 annually ($33.75 hourly).

Income range (lowest to highest 10 percent): about $46,540 to about $96,280.

Job growth outlook through 2022: 33 percent.

Required level of education: associate degree.

2. Registered nurse

Median income: $65,470 annually ($31.48 hourly).

Income range: $45,040 to $94,720.

Job growth outlook: 19 percent.

Required level of education: associate degree.

3. Web developer

Median income: $62,500 annually ($30.05 hourly).

Income range: $33,550 to $105,200.

Job growth outlook: 20 percent.

Required level of education: associate degree.

4. Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers

Median income: $43,640 annually ($20.98 hourly).

Income range: $27,330 to $68,990.

Job growth outlook: 21 percent.

Required level of education: postsecondary non-degree award.

5. Construction manager

Median income: $82,790 annually ($39.80 hourly).

Income range: $49,680 to $144,520.

Job growth outlook: 16 percent.

Required level of education: high school diploma or higher.

6. Industrial machinery mechanic

Median income: $45,840 annually ($22.04 hourly).

Income range: $29,020 to $69,990.

Job growth outlook: 17 percent.

Required level of education: high school diploma or equivalent.

7. Electrician

Median income: $49,840 ($23.96 hourly).

Income range: $30,420 to $82,930.

Job growth outlook: 20 percent.

Required level of education: high school diploma or equivalent.

8. Brick mason

Median income: $44,950 annually ($21.61 hourly).

Income range: $28,980 to $77,950.

Job growth outlook: 34 percent.

Required level of education: high school diploma or equivalent.

9. Air traffic controller

Median income: $122,530 annually ($58.91 hourly).

Income range: $64,930 to $171,340.

Job growth outlook: 1 percent.

Required level of education: associate degree.

10. Telecommunications equipment installer

Median income: $54,530 annually ($26.22 hourly).

Income range: $30,840 to $75,040.

Job growth outlook: 4 percent.

Required level of education: postsecondary non-degree award.

11. Paralegal and legal assistant

Median income: $46,990 annually ($22.59 hourly).

Income range: $29,420 to $75,410.

Job growth outlook: 17 percent.

Required level of education: associate degree.

12. Plumber

Median income: $49,140 annually ($23.62 hourly).

Income range: $29,020 to $84,440.

Job growth outlook: 21 percent.

Required level of education: high school diploma or equivalent.

13. Real estate brokers and sales agents

Median income: $41,990 annually ($20.19 hourly).

Income range: $12.32 to $85.07 hourly.

Job growth outlook: 11 percent.

Required level of education: high school diploma or equivalent.

14. Firefighter

Median income: $45,250 annually ($21.75 hourly).

Income range: $22,030 to $79,150.

Job growth outlook: 7 percent.

Required level of education: postsecondary non-degree award.

15. Chef

Median income: $42,840 annually ($20.42 hourly).

Income range: $24,530 to $74,120.

Job growth outlook: 5 percent.

Required level of education: high school diploma or equivalent.

16. Radiation therapist

Median income: $77,560 annually ($37.29 hourly).

Income range: $51,720 to $113,810.

Job growth outlook: 24 percent.

Required level of education: associate degree.

17. Mortician

Median income: $51,600 annually ($24.81 hourly).

Income range: $28,100 to $94,860.

Job growth outlook: 12 percent.

Required level of education: associate degree.

Do you have any additional recommendations? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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