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.

Feel Overwhelmed by All the Education Choices?

You should be feeling overwhelmed. Without help, it is daunting for anyone trying to decide.

The combination of “who you are”, careers, universities, majors, courses of study, degree programs, funding choices total in the millions. Yes, that’s right, there are millions of alternatives. No wonder it is confusing and difficult to decide. What makes is even harder is the fact that there are few good sources that integrate the various elements of your decision. Buzz TodaySource: Your Future is Calling. In the end you have to weigh all of the information because this journey is about “who you are” and what you do in the future, and not about who I am and what I do. I can be a mentor but I cannot make the choices for you. You must do that.”

The most successful investor in history, Warren Buffett, has advice for you about the best investment you can make. His advice? Invest in yourself. We can tell from all of the Google searchers that millions of you are trying to do that, but the growth in information searches combined with the drop in enrollments is strong evidence that many of you are not finding what you need to make these choices.

You need better, more objective information. You need a road map to make sense of all the information. You need to be motivated to stay the course. You need a vision of the future you desire.

One exercise that is helpful is to envision the future you desire but that needs to be more than a day dream. The vision you create for yourself needs to be positive and concrete. One exercise I recommend is to envision a day in the life of your desired future. This effort needs to be concrete and specific, not some general fairy land fantasy. The vision needs to contain a lot of specifics about what you are actually doing during a typical day in that desired future. Write them do, Reflect on them. Relish them. Make them a part of your desire – a desire that will motivate and sustain you while you face the uncertainty of your choices.

Learning and education is the key to competing in the twenty-first century global economy where ideas are more important than things, where innovation trumps sweat, and where more choices create both complexity and opportunity.

Your future is yours to create. As Warren suggests, GO FOR IT!

Getting Silly

It’s very much in fashion today to bash colleges and universities. Headline after headline totes how bad a decision it is to get a college degree. The latest is now being reported as coming from the billionaire mayor of New York City.

Buzz Today Source: Fox News. Pipe dream: “Skip college, become a plumber, NYC Mayor Bloomberg says” reads the headline. “Compare a plumber to going to Harvard College — being a plumber, actually for the average person, probably would be a better deal,” he reportedly said. “You don’t spend … four years spending $40,000, $50,000 in tuition without earning income,” said the Mayor

The US Department of Labor estimates on their O*NET WEB site that plumbing is a profession with growing demand and what they call a bright outlook growing over 20% per year through 2020. The average salary for plumbers is $49,140 per year.

These are attractive prospects, relative to some other career options, but there are two problems here. The first problem is that if everyone were to take the Mayor’s advice and become a plumber instead of going to college there would be millions of plumbers. Furthermore, those persons actually with a plumbing job would be making next to nothing. Why would those working plumbers be making so little? Because supply and demand determines wages. With the demand for plumbers set by the market forces described, the Mayor’s recommendation would result in an explosion in the supply of plumbers, thus driving down the wages paid.

It’s true that the plumbing profession has a bright outlook with projected significant growth. The problem is, that even with all of that growth, the estimated number of plumbing openings is 228,800 between now and 2020. The simple fact is that if the millions of college students that will enroll between now and 2020 actually became plumbers instead, there would be lots of unemployed plumbers.

The other problem with the advice, is that you simply may not enjoy what plumbers do. Here O*NET is again helpful. What the WEB site tells us is that a day in the life of a plumber is filled with activities such as:

  • Measure, cut, thread, or bend pipe to required angle, using hand or power tools or machines such as pipe cutters, pipe-threading machines, or pipe-bending machines.
  • Locate and mark the position of pipe installations, connections, passage holes, or fixtures in structures, using measuring instruments such as rulers or levels.
  • Assemble pipe sections, tubing, or fittings, using couplings, clamps, screws, bolts, cement, plastic solvent, caulking, or soldering, brazing, or welding equipment.
  • Install pipe assemblies, fittings, valves, appliances such as dishwashers or water heaters, or fixtures such as sinks or toilets, using hand or power tools.

Remember, your future is about what you will be doing every working day of your life. If these plumbing activities are not what you want to be doing everyday in your future than the Mayor’s advice is not for you. It just does not match who you are.

The point is, that the sweeping generalizations even thoughtful people are making about your future is not very helpful for the decisions you have to make. After all, it is your future, not that of the billionaire Mayor we are talking about here. You need a clear road map to a future that matches who you are. Go to Your Future is Calling for the best advice I can give you.

Another Book on the Topic: “Is College Worth It?”

Yet another book is out about the cost and value of a college education.  This one is from former Secretary of Education William Bennett.  Unfortunately, this book, like so many publications before focuses on universities and public education funding issues.  These are important, but they do not help you make better choices about your own future.  You need specific guidance on how to invest in your own future.  Under every scenario, learning is key to that future.  Buzz Today Source:  Washington Times book review – “Is College Worth It?”    College has simply become too expensive… A bachelor of arts degree in political science at a price of more than $150,000 now seems like a bad choice…It is a horrible return on investment to spend four years and six figures on a degree in women’s studies and a minor in religion.

I want to add a few observations to this “Is College Worth It?’ conversation.  I think it is the wrong question.

It is true that in the twentieth century, earning just about any college degree vastly increased the odds of getting a well paying job and a secure future.  The world has changed.  Two important things have happened since these simpler days of old.  First, the world has not only changed it is changing at an ever faster pace.  This makes it more difficult to select a career that make your future more predictable.  Today, every choice involves greater uncertainty.

The other thing that has changed is the cost of education.  A college degree has become very expensive.  This is one of the main complaints of authors like those in the BUZZ Today reference.  It is important to not mix cost with value.  Is it valuable to learn?   The answer without a doubt is yes!  Is it more difficult to decide what to learn?   Again Yes!   Because it is more expensive to take the traditional route of a college degree should you avoid learning?  Absolutely not.

What has not changed, and is important to you, is that the best route to a more prosperous and fulfilling future for you is still through learning.  It is simple to say don’t go to college.  Unfortunately this leaves you with the challenge of deciding how to get to your better future.

One of my strong reactions to the points in BUZZ Today is that it is not for me or anyone else to tell you what choices you should make about your future.  The BUZZ Today authors can help you with facts and data about investments and returns.  Financial costs and returns are appropriate for you to consider in your decision.  What I think is not appropriate is for me or anyone else to tell you that you should not study for a college degree in women’s studies and religion.  If these are subjects that you want to be a part of your future – go for it.  But in the end you have to make choices like this.  No one else can make them for you.

My advice is that your choices involve your journey to your future.  The key elements that I have you focus on are specific choices that make your personal road map from “who you are” to what “you will be doing” in the future.  Help on these important issues are outlined in detail in Your Future is Calling.