If you could spend up to $ 27,000 a year in a public university or less than $ 4,000 a year in a community college, which experience would you choose? What if we said that if you graduated from the cheaper school, you could have a job with a six figure income and financial stability?
Earning a bachelor’s degree seems like the all-American way to get a college education. But there are degrees that take less time and require much less money that can still get you a well-paying job. Consider this: The College Board says that for the 2020-2021 school year, state tuition and fees at a four-year public school will give you an average of $ 10,560 back – or $ 27,020 if you’ve paid extra-state tuition and fees.
In contrast, the average tuition and fees at public two-year colleges ranged from $ 1,430 in California to $ 8,600 in Vermont in 2020-2021. That makes public two-year institutions with degrees that lead to well-paying jobs like a great bargain when tuition and fees average $ 3,770 per year.
Here’s a list of the top jobs that pay above the median wage – $ 56,310 – and that don’t require more than a two-year degree according to the latest numbers.
The best jobs with 2-year degrees
1. Air traffic controller
Average annual wage: $ 130,420
If you want to earn a higher salary, become an air traffic controller. These professionals help pilot aircraft in flight to maintain safe distances between them and earn six-figure income.
Some of these professionals may have bachelor’s degrees, but you can get one of these jobs with an associate degree from the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Given the importance of the job and the heavy burden of work, air traffic controllers must also undergo medical and background checks, as well as take exams and courses at the Academy of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
2. Radiation therapists
Average annual wage: $ 86,850
Advances in medical technology mean that doctors are using high-tech equipment to diagnose and treat diseases. You need trained workers to operate these specialized machines.
Radiation therapists are one of these workers. After two years of training, they are able to perform radiation treatments for cancer and other diseases and receive an average hourly wage of $ 41.76.
3. Nuclear Medicine
Average annual wage: $ 79,590
Nuclear medicine professionals primarily work in hospitals, preparing and administering radioactive drugs to monitor, diagnose, and treat health conditions such as cancer.
Graduating with an associate degree in an accredited course in nuclear medicine technology is the typical path for these specialists.
4. Diagnostic medical sonographs
Average annual wage: $ 75,920
Diagnostic medical sonographers are another type of worker that can be trained in the use of specialized medical equipment in two years.
They operate ultrasound machines that not only give parents-to-be a look at a developing baby, but also take pictures of other parts of the body. The images are used to help doctors identify and diagnose medical problems.
5. MRI technician
Average annual wage: $ 74,690
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technicians are trained to use MRI scanners to obtain diagnostic images of patients. The best-paid employers in this field include outpatient care centers, hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, and doctor’s offices.
MRI technologists require a two-year associate degree. High school students who want to pursue this career path can prepare themselves by taking classes in mathematics and natural sciences, in particular anatomy, biology, chemistry, physiology and physics.
6. Web developer
Average annual wage: $ 77,200
If computers are your thing, how about a career as a web developer?
These are the people who make the websites you visit (like this one) and make sure everything looks and works exactly as it should. It’s also a good job to work remotely; You can find job vacancies on websites like FlexJobs.
An associate degree is all you could possibly need to learn the basic skills for a job that pays an average annual wage of $ 77,200, or about $ 37.12 an hour.
7. Avionics Technicians
Average annual wage: $ 66,440
Avionics technicians have well-paid aviation careers.
These employees are responsible for testing, repairing, and maintaining electronic devices on airplanes and other aircraft. They can also be used to inspect aircraft for defects and to interpret flight data.
8. Specialist in computer network support
Average annual wage: $ 65,450
Texas employs the most people in this occupation, followed by California, Illinois, New York, and Florida.
The industries that pay the highest salaries for computer support positions include telecommunications, computing and hosting, computer systems design, finance and insurance, and business and corporate management.
A bachelor’s degree can help, but many companies accept applicants with an associate degree, the BLS says.
9. Fire inspectors and investigators
Average annual wage: $ 64,610
If you’re looking for a job that will get you out of the office, you could become a fire inspector or investigator.
As the name suggests, these workers inspect properties for regulatory compliance, and inspectors can investigate the cause of a fire.
Most fire investigators and inspectors must have previously worked as firefighters, the BLS says. You need a secondary school diploma or an equivalent qualification before you can start on-the-job training. Depending on the employer, a two- or four-year degree in fire sciences, engineering or chemistry may be required.
10. Respiratory therapists
Average annual wage: $ 62,810
From premature babies with underdeveloped lungs to adults with emphysema, a wide variety of patients benefit from the work of respiratory therapists.
These professionals measure lung capacity and consult doctors to create and implement a treatment plan. You are well paid and only need to complete a two-year course to become employable. Respiratory therapists must obtain a state license in every state except Alaska.
11. Occupational Therapy Assistants
Average annual wage: $ 60,950
The country’s aging population is expected to continue to fuel employment growth for occupational therapy assistants. These employees support occupational therapists with exercises and therapies designed to improve the patient’s ability to cope with everyday tasks.
12. Radiological Technologists
Average annual wage: $ 61,900
Also known as radiologists, radiological technologists perform diagnostic imaging tests, typically taking x-rays of patients in a medical setting such as a hospital or clinic. They can also become mammographers, which use low-dose x-rays to take diagnostic images of breast tissue.
To become a radiological technologist, you must have an associate degree and must also be licensed or certified in most states.
13. Physiotherapist assistants
Average annual wage: $ 59,770
Some states require a PhD in Physiotherapy. However, across the country, their assistants typically only need an associate degree from an accredited program and license or certification.
Physiotherapist assistants can expect explosive employment growth in the years to come as baby boomers age and their need for physiotherapy options increases.
14. Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
Average annual wage: $ 59,100
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians use medical devices to take pictures of the heart and lungs. All you need is a two-year associate degree for this job, which pays a median wage of $ 59,100.
Outpatient care centers, medical practices, hospitals and diagnostic laboratories are among the best-paid employers in this field.
Average annual wage: $ 58,170
This doesn’t seem like the most glamorous job, but someone has to do it. Funeral staff provide services that are always in demand. They are usually paid quite well.
To work in this field, you must have a degree in mortuary research or funeral services. Every state except Colorado has license requirements for field workers. Colorado offers a voluntary certification program.
Average annual wage: $ 57,960
Draftsmen work with software to convert construction plans into technical drawings.
They can specialize in architectural, mechanical, or electrical design and their services are used in a wide variety of industries. To get started, get an associate degree from a community college or technical school.
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