In the first quarter of 2019, our nation is faced with $1.49 Trillion in student loan debt, an increase of $29 Billion from last quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Fortunately, with the unemployment rate for college graduates is only 2.1%, most former students will begin to see their deferred loans lifted and start making average payments of $300 a month on this debt.
An issue this nation witnessed last decade were students getting a four-year degree with no real job market to match their education.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, they found the average salary for these college graduates to be $50,556 as of 2016. While the salary is more than I earned immediately after graduating college, my degree was paid for via the GI Bill; yet, other students suffer the financial consequences of carrying thousands in debt for several years if not decades for some.
The sensitive topic of student loan debt has become a leading topic of debate for the 2020 elections. The Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren, is even running her campaign on the issue with the "forgiveness plan" forcing other candidates to consider the topic.
No matter which side of the aisle, one sits politically, is a four-year degree essential? In this article, you will explore 11 careers that have an average annual salary of over $60,000 that don't require a bachelor's degree. In fact, all eleven of the jobs highlighted below only require an associates degree, and some may include a license.
The jobs listed below are based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics for highest paying occupations that typically require an associate's degree for entry.
1. Air Traffic Controllers, $124,540
Although considered a high-paying job for little required entry-level education, the responsibilities of this career are enormous. From coordinating aircraft movements and handling stressful situations to work rotating shifts, this career has a low growth rate of 3% over the next several years as employment can be very competitive.
While a Bachelor's degree isn't a requirement, this well paying career does require training from the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative program.
2. Radiation Therapists, $82,330
How would you like a rewarding career to treat illnesses such as cancer or other diseases? Training to become a radiation therapist only requires an associate's degree, and with this career outlook expecting to grow by 13%, it is a very high paying job without the burden of student loan debt from a four-year university.
Becoming a radiation therapist will require passing a national certification exam, and one must be licensed depending on the state requirements.
3. Nuclear Medicine Technologists, $76,820
After completing the required certifications, you'll find yourself immersed with a professional medical staff helping prepare patients for imaging and therapeutic diagnostics.
This career field is expected to grow by 10%, with approximately 2,000 new jobs becoming available.
4. Dental Hygienists, $74,820
You almost can't have a dentist with a well-trained dental hygienist. Typical dental programs take 3 years to complete but don't let that discourage you. This career forecasts a 20% growth for new jobs in this field and with a high paying salary, you won't mind how many teeth you have to clean.
5. Web Developers, $69,430
Educational requirements may vary depending on the corporation or entity. Most education requirements for being a web developer can range from having a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree.
With an anticipated growth rate of 15% in the next 5-6 years, it is estimated that 24,400 new jobs will be available for the market place. Large tech companies such as Apple and Google are starting to hire with no college degree required.
6. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists, $67,080
Also referred to as Diagnostic Imaging Workers, you will be operating special imaging equipment for testing various medical conditions.
With over 21,100 new jobs expected to be in need, the job outlook growth is 17% and requires an associate's degree and professional certification.
7. Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians, $67,010
This career is expected to grow at 7%, faster than other job growth averages, as airlines are replacing older equipment and modernizing its fleet to include the fast-growing space exploration industry.
"Many employers prefer to hire aerospace engineering and operations technicians who have earned an associate's degree in engineering technology or who have completed vocational-technical education in computer programming or robotics and machining."
8. Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians, $64,330
Even though it is anticipated for new jobs to grow by 2%, this well paying career requires only an associate's degree.
As an electronics engineer, one can expect to work closely with engineers in designing and developing computers, equipment, medical devices, etc.
9. Avionics Technician, $63,060
Working in this career, you will be repairing and performing scheduled maintenance on aircraft and avionics equipment. With a 5% growth job outlook, you can receive for this trade at a Federal Aviation Administration-approved aviation maintenance school or through the military.
10. Radiologic and MRI Technologists, $61,240
Sometimes referred to as Radiographers, this role will have you performing a variety of diagnostic imaging exams such as X-rays and MRIs.
With an expected growth rate of 13%, there are expected 30,300 new jobs to become available over the next several years. Requiring only an associate's degree, you will need to become certified in your state.
11. Respiratory Therapists, $60,280
From premature babies to baby boomers, you have the responsibility to ensure patients are capable of breathing if you desire to become a Respiratory Therapist. With a median salary of $60K, there is a 23% job growth for this career, and it may require you to work evenings and weekends but don't let that discourage you. Because although some have bachelor's degree, most respiratory therapists have only an associate's degree and most states require licenses.