Ten Well Paying Jobs Without a College Degree

By Kevin M

One of the driving purposes of OutOfYourRut.com is the identification of career and business opportunities, primarily for people engaged in one line of work but seeking entry into another.

In that vein, a noteworthy article appeared on Yahoo! Finance yesterday, 10 Jobs With High Pay and Minimal Schooling Required! written by Michael King. The article lists 10 careers that don’t require a bachelor’s degree for entry, but pay wages which are generally above average.

There are several articles with this same theme here on OutOfYourRut.com, either as full reprints or by excerpt, but in this time of career transition for so many people, it’s one worth revisiting often. The jobs appearing on each list tend to be at least somewhat different from one list to another, either because of the time of compilation, or the orientation of the source.

The List

Depending on your current education and career experience, one or more of these careers might be worth investigating further. As listed by the original article, the ten careers, including median incomes (for 2006 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and general training requirements for entry include:

1. Air Traffic Controllers. Median income: $117,000; training: “Typically, two to four years of training are needed in order to become fully certified, although previous military experience can cut that time down significantly.” Bonus: air traffic controllers can retire after just 25 years of service at any age.

2. Industrial Production Managers. Median income: $77,670; training: “A college degree is preferred, but not necessarily mandatory.”

3. First-Line police and detective supervisors. Median income: $69,300; training: “Police officers can advance through the ranks to become supervisors by passing exams and achieving good performance reviews, and advanced training can help win promotions.”

4. Funeral Director. Median income: $49,620; training: “College programs in mortuary science usually last from two to four years. You typically must also serve a one-year apprenticeship, pass an exam and obtain a state license.”

5. Police and Sheriff Patrol Officers. Median income: $47,460; training: “Applicants usually must have at least a high school education, and some departments require a year or two of college or even a degree. Rookies are trained at police academies.”

6. Advertising Sales Agents. Median income: $42,750; training: “20% have a high school degree or less, and 10% have an Associate’s degree.”

7. Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents. Median income: $39,760; training: “While advanced coursework is not necessarily required, new entrants must pass an exam and get a state license. Connections in the community and a willingness to work hard are what really count, but experience and a good housing market also help.”

8. Occupational Therapist Assistants. Median income: $42,060; training: “These workers usually need an associate degree or a certificate…(but)…Job prospects are good in the growing health care field, especially for those with some post-secondary education.”

9. Occupational Therapist Aides. Median income: $25,000; training: “These employees receive most training on the job…Competition for jobs is tougher for those with only a high school diploma.”

10. Physical Therapist Assistants. Median income: $41,360; training: “typically need an associate’s degree.”

(The list above is greatly excerpted from the original article, so it’s recommended that you visit the original for greater detail.)

Some Caveats…

While none of the careers on the list require a bachelors degree (or higher) for entry, it is clear that having one would be advantageous for many, especially for future promotion. If you already have a degree in an unrelated field, you may have an inside track.

There are some challenges on this list. Not everyone is emotionally cut out to be a funeral director, police officer or air traffic controller, so personality has to be factored into the mix. As well, advertising sales agents and real estate brokers and sales agents all involve SALES! If you have been successful in sales in the past, these fields may hold promise, but if you’ve never done anything similar, selling is a vastly different way to make a living than being on a steady paycheck. Consider also that sales are usually an uphill climb in recessions as consumers and businesses are more reluctant to make purchases. In particular, real estate sales are in an especially difficult period of time as has been well documented in the media.

Finally, industrial production managers may be a limited field, despite the high earnings potential. Jobs in the field are in manufacturing, a sector which has been hit harder than most by globalization and advancing technology. I’m no expert in the field, but competition for what positions are available is likely to be fierce against such a backdrop, and it must also be considered that much of the troubles in manufacturing have been happening for considerably longer than the recent recession.

But again, if you have parallel skills to any of the fields on the list, and have considered trying your hand at one in the past, now might be an outstanding time to take the plunge, especially if you’re unemployed or working in a dead end job. The key is to find a field that most closely matches the skill set you do have so that the jump won’t be so great.

Good luck!

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