22 May 2014

Web Developer is #1 Career Option Without Bachelors Degree

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High-Paying Careers Where an Associate’s Degree Is Enough

Source:  Yahoo Education

High-Pay Jobs With an Associate's Degree

You don’t have to spend an eternity in school to pursue a career with an impressive salary.

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You’ve heard it a thousand times: more education equals more money. Well, maybe, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend years and years in college chasing a degree to earn a good living.

“These days associate’s degrees can be a way to bypass the first two years of college and focus on a more specific and technical skill set or trade,” says Tony Sorensen, CEO of the executive and staff recruiting firm Versique. He says there are plenty of good, well-paying careers that don’t require a bachelor’s degree or higher to pursue.

If you’re ready to start preparing to pursue a high-paying job, but you don’t have a bachelor’s degree under your belt, take a look at the careers below. These are all occupations that pay a median annual salary of at least $45,000 and that don’t require a bachelor’s degree for entry.

Career #1: Web Developer

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Median
Annual Salary*
$63,160
Top 10% of
Earners*
>$110,350
Bottom 10% of Earners*
<$33,320

Web developers have a pretty cool gig. They design and create websites, taking responsibility for everything from the look of a site to technical aspects such as performance and capacity, says the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Low School Factor: With top earners in this field making over $110,000 a year, you might think you need a Ph.D. in computer science for this one, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Sorensen says that businesses are looking for skills more than a degree in this occupation, which is why an associate’s degree can get you in the door.

In fact, according to the Department of Labor, requirements vary from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree, with the most common requirement for web developers being an associate’s degree in web design or a related field.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Web Design and Development Program.

The Big Bucks Factor: Sorenson says that the digitization of the corporate world can mean high salaries for web developers. “Businesses have been shifting to the web to build another online storefront. The growing demand for developers to transition millions of companies across the globe has meant they get paid well,” explains Sorensen.

He adds that web developers could be paid well because the decision to buy a product, or ‘moment of truth,’ now tends to occur while people are researching products online, so the quality of a website is all-important.

Career #2: Computer Network Support Specialist

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Median
Annual Salary*
$60,180
Top 10% of
Earners*
>$99,810
Bottom 10% of Earners*
<$35,330

Are you a computer whiz at home who wants to take your skills to the next level? This occupation might be your chance. Computer network support specialists keep computer networks up and running, doing things like testing existing network systems and evaluating computer network problems, says the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Low School Factor: A few decades ago, even learning how to use a simple computer required months of classes. Today, many people are born into homes with one or more computers, and developing computer skills is often something that happens naturally, without extensive formal schooling required.

This may be why the Department of Labor tells us that many employers accept applicants for computer network support specialist positions with an associate’s degree, even though some prefer that applicants have a bachelor’s degree.

It is important to note that large companies that provide support to business users who purchase their services or products often require a bachelor’s degree. For more technical positions, a degree in a field like computer science, information science, or engineering will likely be required, but for other positions, the field of study is not quite as important.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

The Big Bucks Factor: How do the top computer network specialists average a median annual salary of over $99,000 a year without a long educational pedigree? With computers, it’s all about what you can do, as opposed to how much schooling you have, says Sorensen.

Sorensen goes on to explain that as companies implement new technologies and new software integration, computer network support specialists are the key to a smooth transition, and they are therefore paid well. “These employees are essential to the company and the success of the product,” he says.

Career #3: Dental Hygienist

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Median
Annual Salary*
$71,110
Top 10% of
Earners*
>$96,690
Bottom 10% of Earners*
<$47,880

Dental hygienists do much more than just scrape teeth. The U.S. Department of Labor says these professionals also educate patients on proper dental care, check for gum and mouth disease, take x-rays, apply sealants, and more.

The Low School Factor: If oral care is important to you, the field of dentistry is probably quite appealing. However, years upon years of college and then dental school are probably less appealing.

Fortunately, you don’t need all that education to be part of this world if you decide to pursue a career as a dental hygienist. Sorenson says that, again, this is a profession that fits well with associate’s degrees because it is very specific and skill-based.

Indeed, an associate’s in dental hygiene and licensure is what dental hygienists usually need, says the Department of Labor.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Dental Hygienist Program.

The Big Bucks Factor: Consider how often you’ve seen any dentist’s office without a dental hygienist in order to get an idea of why these workers might be in-demand and commanding impressive salaries. Sorensen also points to societal factors as big contributors to the high pay in this area.

With an aging population and a heightened focus on dental health, these professionals are in high demand and are very respected, Sorensen says. They also have specialized skills that are an integral part of every dentist’s office, so they’re paid well for that, he adds.

Career #4: Registered Nurse

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Median
Annual Salary*
$66,220
Top 10% of
Earners*
>$96,320
Bottom 10% of Earners*
<$45,630

Registered nurses care for the sick in doctors’ offices as well as clinics and hospitals. But that’s not all. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, they also educate patients and their families on how to stay healthy and manage injuries.

The Low School Factor: Although there are many educational options for this profession, entering it doesn’t require heavy levels of schooling, says the Department of Labor.

There are three typical ways to pursue a registered nursing career: earn either an associate’s or a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing, or earn a diploma from an accredited nursing program. Registered nurses also must be licensed, says the Department.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Registered Nursing Program.

The Big Bucks Factor: Some of the highest-paying careers around are in the health care field, probably because a person’s health is so valuable. Registered nursing is no exception.

Sorensen says that, like dental hygienist, this is another essential and well-respected job that requires very specific skills that are highly valued because they have to do with people’s health. For this reason, nurses get good pay, says Sorensen.

Career #5: Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technician

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Median
Annual Salary*
$62,680
Top 10% of
Earners*
>$89,570
Bottom 10% of Earners*
<$39,010

If you’re a plane or spacecraft buff, you might gravitate toward this profession. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians operate and maintain equipment that’s used in the testing of new aircraft and spacecraft, says the U.S Department of Labor.

The Low School Factor: If you think this is a recipe for a lot of schooling, good news: According to the Department of Labor, aerospace engineering and operations technicians with an associate’s degree in engineering technology are increasingly preferred by employers.

Sorensen says that technical skills are needed here and that’s where associate’s degree programs shine since often they are very focused on preparing you for a specific trade.

The Department adds that some technicians must have security clearances for national defense related projects, while for certain types and levels of clearances, U.S. citizenship may be required.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Engineering Program.

The Big Bucks Factor: The high salaries connected with aerospace engineering may be a function both of its importance to the military and the very specific talents required.

“Aerospace engineering is a unique skill set of electronics and development and is usually in the military space. Operations technicians also require a very unique skill set and their job requires very technical and specific tasks,” Sorensen says. For these reasons, Sorensen adds, they can be paid pretty well for the relatively low amount of education the positions demand.

Career #6: Paralegal

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Median
Annual Salary*
$47,570
Top 10% of
Earners*
>$76,960
Bottom 10% of Earners*
<$29,740

If you love the law and learning about the way it protects the citizens who follow it, paralegal may be the career for you. Paralegals work closely with attorneys, help research facts, draft legal documents, prepare for courtroom cases, and even provide assistance during trials, says the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Low School Factor: The Department of Labor says most paralegals have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or a bachelor’s degree in a different field with a certificate in paralegal studies. Why only an associate’s degree when they do the kind of legal work you might expect from someone with three years of law school under their belt?

“The paralegal field is perfectly suited to an individual with an associate’s degree because while a formal education provides a good base, the most valuable skills a paralegal can possess are generally learned through on-the-job training,” says Linda McGrath-Cruz, owner of Perfectly Paralegal Consulting, Inc.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Program.

The Big Bucks Factor: While paralegals don’t make as much as their lawyer bosses, they can do surprisingly well, depending on how critical their contributions are to their lawyers.

McGrath says that paralegals get paid well because their work is very important and often tied to extremely valuable decisions, i.e., costly lawsuits. She says while they don’t make the hundreds of dollars per hour attorneys sometimes make, lawyers rely on them enough to pay them very well.

* All salary information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for May 2013.

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