More from Graduate Survey

According to Sokanu, degree programs posting high levels of satisfaction were
Women’s Studies, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Social Psychology,
Applied Mathematics and Philosophy and Religious Studies. Degrees in
Operations Logistics and E-commerce, Medical Assisting, Automotive Repair,
Medical Administration and Accounting placed as the least satisfying degree programs.

Good Paying Jobs That Do Not Require a Bachelor’s Degree

There are good paying jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree but they do require skills that are changing as our world changes. Learning is still key to a better future. But how do you decide what to learn?  The answer is that you should begin with “who you are” then decide what to study that can lead to a better future for yourself and your loved ones. Buzz TodaySource: O*NET  The O*NET program is the nation’s primary source of occupational information. Every occupation requires a different mix of knowledge, skills, and abilities, and is performed using a variety of activities and tasks. The data base defines the set of occupations across the world of work. Based on the Standard Occupational Classification the O*NET-SOC taxonomy currently includes 974 occupations 

With so many occupations to select from, it is no wonder that readers are challenged to find just the right combination of factors needed to fit exactly “who they are”.  In this post we explore the important characteristics of a few of the 974 choices to show how a new career can be chosen.  I recommend that you look at several important characteristics for any career you may be considering.  These are:

* The size of the profession. This gives you an indication of how many jobs in this profession there are in the US economy. Here size matters. Larger professions provide more opportunities.

* Growth in the profession is another important parameter for you to consider.  As our world changes opportunities in different careers are changing as well.  Some careers attractive just a few years ago have already been impacted by changes.  A good example is desktop publishing.  Only a few years ago this was a growing job opportunity.  Today this profession is much less attractive with a very limited growth prospect.

* Earnings are another important piece of information in your career choice. Incurring student debt to earn credentials in a poorly paying occupation is a path to a dismal future.

* How well the occupation fits you is another important factor. This is the part about “who you are”.  Here again you need good data about personality and the characteristics of those already in the profession.

Here is data on a few of the 974 careers.  All of these require less than a bachelor degree and are reasonably accessible through education at a community college at a reasonable investment level.

Patrol Police Officer

This is a profession that, with the right personal history, is relatively easy to enter.  42% of current officers entered the profession directly from high school but an associate’s degree provides better prospects.  It is a large profession with 664,000 current positions growing by 249,000 (2010-2020).  The median pay is $55,270 per year.  This profession requires personal attributes that include integrity, self control, stress tolerance and attention to detail.

Dental Hygienist

This is a reasonably large job classification with 182,000 current positions with over two thirds occupied by professionals with an associate’s degree making it a relatively easy profession to enter through a very affordable path at a local community college. Growth is projected to be over 29% (2010-2020) and compensation in 2012 was highly attractive with an annual median income of $70,210.  In addition to technical training required, personality attributes that align with the requirements of the job include a good-natured and cooperative attitude.


This is a large employment category with employment of 256,000 with good growth projected over the next decade.  The median salary in 2012 was $46,990 annually. Apprenticeships by state are available.  In addition, certificates are available from The Association of Legal Assistants/Paralegals.   Personal attributes including attention to detail, dependability, and integrity.

Registered Nurse
This is a huge profession with 2010 employment at 2,737,000 with projected openings by 2020 of 1,207,400 professionals. This size and growth are being driven by new medical technology and the aging of the baby boomers. Compensation is attractive at a 2012 median level of $65,470 annually. Personality attributes important in this profession include concern for others, dependability, stress tolerance, self control and attention to detail.

Summary:   All of these careers can be entered with learning that is less than the traditional bachelor’s degree.  This makes learning a key but manageable entry to these attractive professional careers.

New Shoes

The next series of posts on this blog will look at the three key parts of your degree completion decision:  “who you are”, careers, and universities.      Buzz Today Source:  Your Future is Calling.   The book is a road map for you to earn your degree quickly and efficiently.  It is important that you do the work to find the right fit for you.  Think of your task as if you were shopping for a new pair of shoes.  You have to shop around to find out what is available.  You have to try on the shoes to make sure they don’t hurt your feet.  You have to look at them in the mirror. You have to examine the price tag to see if you can afford them.  The important point is that, in the end only you can tell if those new shoes fit you.  The only difference here is that the new shoes you are shopping for (your degree) you will wear every day for the rest of your life, and if they do not fit, they will not only hurt your feet, they will create pain in every part of your life. 

It is important to begin at the beginning – with “who you are”.  The BUZZ Today talks about why it all needs to start with you.

“Who you are”:  In many ways we are all different.  Our lives and experiences mold us.  What I enjoy may not at all appeal to you.  I like standing in a cold, fast flowing stream and casting a fly over and over again trying to tempt a trout I cannot even see into biting on a glob of thread and feathers only to release the fish once I have landed him in a net.

Most of you would not find this appealing at all.  Some might find it revolting, even barbaric.  But that is exactly the point.  We are all different.  What motivates each of us to do what we do, to be “who we are” is very much about each of us.

When it comes to deciding on a degree, a college, a career you need to start with yourself.  In the end, all of these have to fit you, just as the shoes in the BUZZ Today have to fit you.  No one else can tell you if they fit.  You have to try them on.  To do that you have to have good information.  We will come back to this in posts here over the weeks and months to come.

It’s Not Always What It Seems

We have talked a lot about the need to chose degrees and careers that create value for you.  My book “Your Future is Calling” guides you through the 950+ careers listed on the Department of Labor WEB site.  Buzz Today Source:  The New York Times. In 2007, the Veterinary Medical Association contended that the United States needed more veterinarians.  In 2012, a National Academy of Sciences found no evidence of vet shortages.  It also concluded that the “cost of veterinary education is at a crisis point”.  .

I always believed that veterinarians were in demand and earned a good income. Upon reflection, that belief was probably because it takes a lot of education to become a vet and in the end they are sort of like a human medical doctor.

I was shocked to read of a 30 year old veterinarian graduate who recently graduated with $312,000 of student debt.  The problem is that the average starting salary for veterinary graduates is $45,575 per year.  This ratio of debt far exceeds the debt to starting salary ratio of 3 to 1 recommended.

The prospect is that the young woman grad will be repaying her student loans for about 25 years for a total of over $650,000 with taxes.  One of the reasons this grad’s bill is so high is because she failed to be accepted to the reasonably priced University of California – Davis Vet school and instead went to a high tuition cost off shore for-profit school.

But as bad as the young graduate’s situation is, it is not as bad as a student who went to a for-profit vet school, lasted 6 semesters than failed out racking up $160,000 of debt and no degree.  High debt and no degree is about as bad a situation you can wind up in.

This post is the first in a series that looks at how critical it is to make sure that you fully understand your career prospects that fit “who you are”.  It also introduces the subject of how important it is fully understand everything about the college you are considering attending.

By the way, the 30 year old veterinarian went into the career because it is something she wanted to do since childhood.  The intrinsic value of what she is doing (to do) is a powerful motivator for her.  Her decision fits “who she is” very well.  Now she has to manage the economics of her decision.

One final note on this post:  O*Net lists the average veterinarian salary as $82,900, clearly including many veterinarians with many years of experience.