College graduates, on average, earn $1 million more over the course of a career than do high school graduates, which is great, if you love school or you can get through without massive amounts of debt. But, if you aren’t a fan of sitting in the classroom, there are still a few in-demand jobs that pay a decent amount of money without a four-year degree. To sort through them all you can use the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupation Finder.
5 Nuclear Power Reactor Operators
Even though “The Simpsons” would have you believe otherwise, there is no college education required to become a nuclear power reactor operator. Of all the jobs available to those without a degree, working in a nuclear power plant offers the highest pay. But you’ll have to be lucky enough to dwell close to an existing plant or the site of a new one starting up. Word is that Mr. Burns is looking to expand from Springfield.
4 Construction Managers
Telling people what to do can be fun and profitable. If you have construction experience, you can get into work as a construction manager with just an associate degree. The pay is about twice the national average and the job market is expanding. But, best of all, you’ll get to wear a bright yellow hard hat to work.
3 Dental Hygienists or Dental Assistants
One of the fastest growing job markets is sticking your hands into the mouths of strangers. If that doesn’t immediately dissuade you, you might be a good dental hygienist. It takes a two-year degree–though you can be a dental assistant with just a trade-school certificate–and you get to do all the work so the dentist can drive a Porsche. Hygienists clean teeth, check for cavities and do most of the dental work besides fillings and surgeries. Assistants prep the exam rooms, schedule resources and keep records.
2 Registered Nurses
If you love comfy clothes, staying up all night and spending your time around sick people, then you might want to become a registered nurse. While some nursing gigs will require a bachelor’s degree, there are many that ask only for a two-year associate’s degree. The job market is growing, the pay is good and the uniform is essentially an excuse to wear pajamas all day long. Or, it could be, all night long, depending on the shift you get. Since people refuse to schedule their illnesses around normal business hours, nurses often work long, late and hard, but for good money.
1 Cement Masons
If you want to do work that will be remembered for years, but doesn’t require years of memorization, look into becoming a cement mason. Most of the time it doesn’t even require a high school degree; you learn through an apprenticeship on the job. The job market for cement masons is growing quickly, and there aren’t too many other jobs where you can write your initials and have them visible for decades.