Chances are you are familiar with the statistics: Job seekers with a four-year college degree make considerably more over the course of their working lives than their counterparts with less education. The Economic Policy Institute puts the number at about 56% more, based on 2015 salary figures.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t great opportunities in thriving industries for job seekers without a four-year degree, or those looking to make a career change without having to restart the college education process.
Using information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), including annual median salary, hiring outlook and the recommended level of education required to get started; as well as BLS rankings in the 2017 Jobs Rated report, CareerCast.com finds excellent opportunities for those without a four-year degree.
Healthcare’s been a pillar of the American economy for years, but especially so in the past half-decade. It should come as no surprise, then, that the most abundant and best opportunities for job seekers without a four-year college degree are in the healthcare sector.
Of the 10 best jobs not requiring a bachelor’s degree, almost half are in healthcare: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Medical Records Technician, Optician and Respiratory Therapist.
Some education beyond high school is necessary for a few of these positions: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Medical Records Technician and Respiratory Therapist all have recommended education of an associate’s degree, with some non-degree certification for Medical Records Technician.
Local community colleges typically offer flexible schedules to gain the necessary training to get started in one of these fields.
The high-growth opportunities prevalent in healthcare might make that sector most appealing for some. Others may seek business ownership opportunities, or workday independence from their careers. Pursuing these goals without a four-year college degree is possible, especially for Plumbers and Web Developers.
Web Developer is one of the best jobs for part-time and freelance work in 2017. For the technologically proficient, there are abundant opportunities to work on a contract basis and set one’s own schedule. And, while other lucrative fields in Information Technology require a bachelor degree or more, the BLS recommends an associate’s degree to become a Web Developer – not bad for a field that pays an annual median salary of $66,130 and has a 27% growth outlook.
Plumbing is always in-demand, and most recent BLS estimates suggest growth outlook of 12% in the next eight years. Wage opportunities are also positive, with an annual median salary of $51,540. But what might be especially appealing to a job seeker looking to begin a career as a Plumber is the opportunity for independent business ownership.
The BLS estimates 10% of all plumbers are self-employed, which includes both contractors and independent business owners. Similar numbers exist for Electricians.
Sometimes, the best method of feeding such aspirations is through hands-on work rather than receiving a degree. Working as an Executive Assistant can be a gateway to greater opportunities in business and/or entrepreneurship, depending on the responsibilities levied.