Did you there are many good-paying jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree? If you have ever heard of Mike Rowe, TV host, writer, narrator (come on, you know Dirty Jobs!) – you have likely heard about the American Skills Gap. The most recent estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest there were in excess of job vacancies in the United States as of July 2019. Likely, these vacancies remain unfilled in part because there are few unemployed workers in today’s tight labor market. But also it is likely today’s unemployed workers do not possess the skills required to fill these job openings.
At a national level, the BLS does not measure how many of the open 7.3 million jobs are actually due to a skills gap. However, some states have taken steps to identify exactly where the gaps will occur. For example, Washington estimated that between 2016 and 2021 the annual demand for installation, maintenance and repair workers would be 3,147. They also estimate, that there are only 621 people who will be able to fill these roles. That is a massive gap of 2,526 workers! The next greatest gap was with mid-level healthcare occupations, with an annual shortfall of 472 workers. Here’s the kicker, these jobs typically do not require a bachelor’s degree.
Did you know the number of Associates Degrees and Certificates awarded in the 2015-2016 school year exceeded the number of bachelor’s degrees? According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there were 939,000 certificates awarded, 1 million associates degrees and 1.9 million bachelor degrees. That means associates degrees and certificates outpaced bachelor degrees by 390,000!
Lets take a closer look at jobs that likely do not require a bachelor’s degree.
A medical assistant works with physicians and patients. They perform duties such as taking patient history and vital signs, assisting the doctor with examinations. They may also carry out physician orders, such as injections or preparing blood for laboratory tests, or scheduling patient appointments.
There are also medical administrative assistants. A person in this role may handle everything from appointment setting and office supplies, to insurance billing and patient records.
Top paying states for this job would include New Jersey, Washington DC, Alaska, Minnesota, Washington and Massachusetts. In these states the annual mean wage was over $40K a year.
Medical transcription may typically involve converting voice recordings from doctors into written reports. They also edit and interpret healthcare documents and enter medical reports into electronic health records (EHR) systems.
Related to this career would be a medical records and health technician. This career is predicted to grow at a rate of 13%, which is faster than average. A HIT typically will organize and manage health information data. This includes ensuring the data is kept accurate and secure. The 2018 median annual salary is $40,350.
Pharmacy technicians generally help pharmacists dispense prescription meds in either hospitals or retail pharmacies. Their job duties include things like collecting and entering patient and prescription information into computer systems, measuring the amounts of medication needed to fill prescriptions, packaging and labeling prescriptions, accepting payments and processing insurance claims.
Top paying states for this occupation would include Alaska, California, Washington, Oregon and District of Columbia. In these states the annual mean wage was over $39k a year.
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic medical care to patients. Specific job duties for both LPN and LVNs can vary depending on the work setting and the state where they work. However, in general, they handle things like checking blood pressure, collecting samples for testing, changing bandages, helping patients eat or bathe, keeping records and reporting patient status back to Registered Nurses (RNs) and doctors.
Top paying states for this occupation would include Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Alaska, Nevada, and Connecticut. In these states the annual mean wage was over $56k a year.
Criminal Investigators and special agents investigate suspected violations of local, state and/or federal laws to either prevent or solve crimes. Typically, they collect and secure evidence from crime scenes, conduct interviews, review records, obtain warrants and arrest suspects. They are also responsible for writing detailed reports, preparing cases and testifying in court.
Top paying states for this occupation would include District of Columbia, Alaska, California, Hawaii and New Jersey. In these states the annual mean wage was over $102K a year.
Correctional officers and Jailers oversee individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in jail or prison. In a nutshell, they supervise inmate activities, enforce rules and maintain order.
Correctional officers are also responsible for escorting prisoners to courtrooms, medical facilities, or other destinations as needed. And they are generally required to write reports and fill out daily logs detailing inmate behavior and anything else of note that may have occurred during their shifts.
Top paying states for this occupation would include California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Alaska. In these states the annual mean wage was over $64k a year.
Automotive master mechanics inspect, maintain, and repair automobiles, trucks, buses and other vehicles. They often use specialized equipment to diagnose mechanical problems and then work to repair them to meet manufacturers performance specifications.
Sometimes, automotive mechanics will specialize in specific systems, like engines, transmissions, or electronics.
Top paying states for this occupation include District of Columbia, Alaska, Maryland, Connecticut and Washington. In these states the annual mean wage was over $49K a year.
Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers, often called HVAC technicians, work on installing or repairing systems that control temperature and air quality. When installing or repairing air conditioning and refrigeration systems, HVAC technicians must follow government regulations regarding the conservation, recovery, recycling and/or disposal of refrigerants, fluids and pressurized gases.
They often work service calls to homes, office buildings, factories, hospitals and schools. However, in some cases they may be sent to specific job-sites.
Top paying states for this occupation include District of Columbia, Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii and Massachusetts. In these states the annual mean wage was over $59K a year.
Energy auditors inspect, and evaluate building systems, mechanical systems, electrical systems and process systems to determine the energy consumption of each system. After completing initial evaluations, they will generally identify and prioritize opportunities to improve the operation, maintenance and energy efficiency of those systems.
Top paying states for this occupation include Washington, Colorado, Maryland, California and Oregon. In these states the annual mean wage was over $59K a year.
Plumbers install and repair pipes and fittings that carry water, steam, air, or other liquids or gases. They often troubleshoot malfunctioning systems, repair and replace worn parts, and perform pressure tests to ensure that a pipe system is airtight and watertight. Additionally, Plumbers are required to ensure that state and local building codes related to plumbing are met.
Top paying states for this occupation include Illinois, Alaska, Minnesota, New York, and Oregon. In these states the annual mean wage was over $73K a year.
Rough Carpenters use blueprints and sketches to build rough wooden structures; such as concrete forms, scaffolds, tunnels, bridges or sewer supports. They construct, install, and repair structures using a variety of carpentry and power tools. They often study blueprints and sketches to determine dimensions or structure of forms to be constructed and ensure that construction is meets those specifications.
Top paying states for this occupation include Hawaii, Alaska, Illinois, New York and New Jersey. In these states the annual mean wage was over $61K a year.
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers transport goods from one location to another. It’s common for these drivers to deliver goods over long distances, sometimes spanning several states. Prior to leaving their home location, they are responsible for inspecting their trailers, securing cargo for transport, and ensuring their trucks and equipment are clean and in good working order.
Drivers who transport hazardous materials, such as chemical waste, are generally required to take special precautions and may also carry specialized safety equipment in case of an accident.
Top paying states for this occupation include Alaska, District of Columbia, North Dakota, Nevada and New York. In these states the mean annual wage is over $50K a year.
Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks use specialized software to maintain financial records for an organization. They are often required to produce reports, such as balance sheets, income statements, and totals by account. Additionally, they are responsible for reconciling or noting any discrepancies they might find.
Workers in this occupation may engage in a wide range of tasks. Some are full-charge bookkeeping clerks who maintain an entire organization’s books; while others are accounting clerks who handle specific tasks, like accounts payables or receivables.
Top paying states for this occupation include District of Columbia, Alaska, Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts. In these states the mean annual wage is over $47K a year.
Massage therapists manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body while incorporating relaxation techniques and treatments to help clients with both pain and stress relief.
Massage therapists can work in any number of environments, such as: spas, rehabilitation clinics, hotels and resorts, health and wellness centers. Alternatively, a massage therapist can be self-employed and own a private practice.
Top paying states for this occupation include Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Massachusetts. In these states the mean annual wage is over $53k a year.
Paralegals support lawyers by researching facts for cases, preparing documents, maintaining files, and preparing for trial. Specific duties of a Paralegal may vary depending on the area of law in which they work.
Paralegals must work under the supervision of an attorney and are commonly employed by law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies; however some opportunities exist in other industries as well.
Top paying states for this occupation include District of Columbia, Connecticut, California, Washington and Massachusetts. In these states the annual mean wage is over $60K a year.
Growth rate and median salary information reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics .
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The sources for school statistics and data is the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.