10 High-Paying Jobs That Don't Require A Bachelor's Degree

best paying associate degree jobs

With college tuition rates soaring, many people are reconsidering whether they need a four-year degree. Statistics show that adults with a bachelor's degree, in general, vastly out earn their lesser educated counterparts. But could you earn a good salary -- even up to six figures -- with just an associate degree from a less-expensive trade school or community college?

CareerBuilder (an AOL Jobs sponsor) recently gathered data from more than 90 national and state employment resources and found plenty of high-paying jobs that don't require a four-year degree, though some may require professional certification. The career website says these 10 occupations were tops when it comes to pay, based on median wages paid to U.S. workers.

Take a look and tell us: Are these jobs you'd consider?

10. Engineering Technician (except drafters): Helps engineers and scientists in research and development, specializing in various areas.
  • Median annual salary: $58,698
  • Educational requirements:* Employers typically require applicants to have an associate degree in the specific engineering discipline, i.e., civil engineering, mechanical engineering, etc.

Find a job as an engineering technician.

9. Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technician: Operates equipment used in developing and testing new aircraft and spacecraft.
  • Median annual salary: $61,547
  • Educational requirements: Increasingly, employers are seeking candidates who have earned a degree or have earned certification from a trade school in a related field. Positions involving national defense may require security clearances.

Find a job as an aerospace engineer and operations technician.

8. Fashion Designer: Creates clothing, shoes and accessories.
  • Median annual salary: $63,170
  • Educational requirements: Post-secondary education isn't required, though most fashion designers have had some formal education -- design school, for example -- where they learn design skills, including how to use computer-aided design, or CAD, technology.

Find a job as a fashion designer.

7. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer: Diagnoses medical conditions using special imaging equipment such as an ultrasound or a sonogram.
  • Median annual salary: $65,499
  • Educational requirements: Becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer requires an associate degree or a post-secondary certificate in the field. Many employers also require professional certification.

Find a job as a diagnostic medical sonographer.

6. Registered Nurse: Provides care and educates patients about various health conditions.
  • Median annual salary: $65,853
  • Educational requirements: Registered nurses usually take one of three educational paths: an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. RNs must also pass a national licensing exam.

Find a job as a registered nurse.

5. Nuclear Technician: Assists in nuclear research and production.
  • Median annual salary: $68,037
  • Educational requirements: An associate degree in nuclear science or a nuclear-related technology is typically needed to gain entry into the field. Nuclear technicians also go through extensive on-the-job training.

Find a job as a nuclear technician.

4. Nuclear Medicine Technologist: Prepares and administers radioactive drugs for use while scanning patients for abnormalities.
  • Median annual salary: $69,638
  • Educational requirements: An associate degree in nuclear medicine technology is typically required. Some states also require a license to work in the field, though requirements vary.

Find a job as a nuclear medicine technologist.

3. Dental Hygienist: Examines patients, cleans teeth and provides other dental care.
  • Median annual salary: $70,408
  • Educational requirements: An associate degree in dental hygiene is usually required to work as a dental hygienist. Each state also requires those in this field to be licensed, though requirements vary.)

Find a job as a dental hygienist.

2. Radiation Therapist: Treats patients cancer and other diseases through the use of radiation.
  • Median annual salary: $76,627
  • Educational requirements:Radiation therapists are required to complete a formal training program, which usually lead to an associate or bachelor's degree in radiation therapy. Therapists must be licensed in most states; requirements vary.

Find a job as a radiation therapist.

1. Air Traffic Controller: Manages air traffic to ensure safe flying.
  • Median annual salary: $113,547
  • Educational requirements: Air traffic controllers must be U.S. citizens; complete an air traffic management degree from a Federal Aviation Administration certified school; earn a qualifying score on an FAA pre-employment test; and complete training at the FAA academy.

Find a job as an air traffic controller.

*Source for educational requirements: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.

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Bert Heyder

Whoa, look at those pay scales! When I started out after carrying newpapers in grade school until I was on the 9th grade school baseball team, the minimum scage scale was 75 cents per hour! After a year of college and working week-ends at a corner grocery store, at 75 centsc an hour, I worked a summer for $1.38 an hour! Boy, big time with time and a half for overtime and a couple of raises, I was ready to keep working and got married. Then, was drafted into the Army, served my two years in Germany, came back to my utility job at a greater pay scale then when I left. After our fourth son was born, I returned to college, night school, as I had to continue working to support our family. The hitch in the army allowed the G. I. bill to help pay for my schooling, else I could have never made it. My adviced to our first son to take typing in Jr High, as computers were just starting to made their impressions on the work force. He was the only boy in his class, but it paid off as he got his C.P.A. license after his basketball scholarship. Times sure change and it pays to plan for your future, as best you can. I didn't make the, "Big Bucks" working for a utility, but it had other advantages.

May 30 2013 at 12:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

pcgorilla is funny. Money can buy you happiness, you must be broke. Always trying to blame your failures on somebody else...get over it. Wake up and smell the dough!

May 30 2013 at 11:07 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

pcgorilla must be broke. Her comments are funny. Money can buy happiness...wake up and smell the dough!

May 30 2013 at 11:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't know where these idiots get their stats but I did very well in Social Work, as well of a lot of others in this field that I know of. I retired with more money than half the jobs listed, aerospace engineering??, doesn't sound like an easy job to get. I know business majors do very well.

May 30 2013 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nuclear power plants is where the money is at a nuclear mechanic makes 110k to 160k in the midwest, union job with no college degree needed..

May 08 2013 at 8:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Type your comment hereThose going into Nursing program because t pays well will be real disappointed in the career. It pays well but you have to want to do it and love the job otherwise you will hate s\cleaning up blood poop andvomit after others. this is not a career for everyone. I did it for 35 years and loved it but it is not for evryone

February 06 2013 at 10:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Lynne's comment

Also, employers don't want new graduates.

March 26 2013 at 5:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I remember Robin Williams' speech when he won the Oscar for Best Actor. When he was starting out he told his dad he was going to become an actor. His dad said "That's great, just be sure you have a good trade to fall back on, like masonry." Hillarious, and still good advice.

February 06 2013 at 7:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Rn info is old and outdatd. In Minnesota, if you don't have a 4 year RN degree, you're chances of getting hired are almost none. Diploma degreed
Rn's have not been in existance for years. Also, a full time Rn in Mn makes more like $80,000 per year.

February 06 2013 at 6:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jnel713's comment

In many states an RN is an RN unless you prefer to go management route then you need a BSN (which I have). Associate RN's are fine, at least in the states I've lived but you are correct with diploma ~ non existent. In 1995 they were starting to say that the entry level for nursing was going to become BSN and nothing less. However, I think through the years they've relaized that all chiefs and no indians is not a good mix. SNFs us almost all LPNs except for positions like Unit Managers, ADON, and yes two year RNs are DONs in this atmosphere. Hospitals on the other hand prefer the BSN. Strangely both the Associate RN and the BSN take the same state boards in many states as they are both "registered nurses".

February 06 2013 at 7:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I remember when only people like Willy Mays and Mickey Mantle made six figure incomes!!

February 06 2013 at 5:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

don't know if that is just the nature of my major or the sad state of the economic times we currently find ourselves in. (thanks almost entirely to George W. Bush)

I think it's funny that so many Christians care so much about money when Jesus explicitly spoke out against being rich in the bible --- Matthew 19:24---- Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

I think in the end it's better to find a job that you're happy doing than one where you make more money but are unhappy.

February 06 2013 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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