College is expensive, but worth it (provided you choose the right school and major). College graduates routinely out-earn those with just a high school diploma. However, sometimes life has other plans. Whether you’re just not interested in spending four more years in school or you’re looking for a career change that won’t require a big investment, there are jobs out there that are open to workers without a traditional bachelor’s degree.
CareerCast recently announced their top jobs for 2017 that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, and we have the salary data to show just how lucrative those jobs could be for you.
If you’re interested in the medical field, but don’t want to spend the time or money on an occupation that requires a bachelor’s degree or more, you have options. Sonographers generally work with imaging equipment at a doctor’s office, clinic or a hospital. They perform tests using high-tech medical equipment and explain procedures to patients. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that an associate degree is often enough to get started in this fast-growing field. According to PayScale data, the median annual salary for this job is $53,385.
Typically, medical records technicians have a postsecondary non-degree award, but no lengthy educational investment is required for this job. Most work in medical offices or hospitals, updating and tracking medical records, as well as coding procedures for processing claims to insurance or Medicare. Many healthcare facilities look for individuals with some prior experience in medical records as well. Our data show a median hourly rate of $14.47.
While some employers prefer a B.A. in a related field like computer science, many will forego degree requirements if you have enough relevant experience. PayScale’s salary data show a median salary of $58,163 per year. Top employers in this field include Kaiser Permanente, where the average annual salary is around $98,000, Wells Fargo Bank ($95,000), Amazon.com Inc ($88,000) and Microsoft Corp ($73,000).
Paralegals work in law offices or large corporations. They interview clients, edit pleadings and briefs for attorneys, and review legal documents to ensure they have all the facts. An associate degree (available from your local community college) in paralegal studies is often requested by employers for this job, but not always. Paralegals earn a median salary of $46,337, according to our data.
CareerCast‘s list has industrial machine repairer in its fifth spot; our data show a comparable job track for a machinery maintenance mechanic. These mechanics maintain and repair factory equipment including production machinery. While a high school diploma is often the only requirement, there are some necessary skills for these special mechanics, like being able to read blueprints, using tools like welding equipment, and working well alone or in groups. Our PayScale salary data show that this job earns a median salary of $49,218 per year.
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