14. Lodging managers
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Conventional wisdom holds that you need a four-year degree to maximize your earning potential.
Reality, however, tells a different tale: If you make wise choices, you can enjoy great dividends on a much smaller investment of both time and money.
The truth is that there are many jobs that you can land with only a two-year associate’s degree.
If you’re interested in high-paying jobs that don’t require four years at school, read on…
If the idea of providing health care services to people in need appeals to you, look into nursing. Nurses offer expertise and emotional support to patients.
The Pay Off: Registered nurses (RNs) make a mean annual wage of $62,450.
The Degree: You can join the ranks of these essential heroes with a two-year associate’s degree in nursing. From there, get licensed to work in your state.
Computer support specialists are trained experts who can troubleshoot and keep computers and computer systems working. As computers have become a larger part of both the home and the workplace, keeping them operational has become a bigger priority.
The Pay Off: Because these unique skill sets are in such demand, the payoff can be very attractive. Computer support specialists can enjoy a mean annual wage of up to $43,450.
The Degree: All you need to qualify for some well-paying IT jobs is a two-year associate’s degree in a computer-related field.
Paralegals assist lawyers in a large variety of ways, preparing depositions, coaching witnesses for trial, drafting contracts, and more. As law firms and businesses continue to shift more legal duties from the hands of high-priced lawyers to paralegals, the need continues to grow.
The Pay Off: The median annual wage for paralegals is $46,120.
The Degree: Unlike lawyers, who must make a hefty education commitment, paralegals can enjoy a great job after earning just a two-year associate’s degree in paralegal studies.
If you have a passion for clothing, you may want to consider a career as a fashion designer. Fashion designers, who are highly concentrated in Los Angeles and New York City, are responsible for the clothing, accessories, and footwear you see at the mall and in stores around the world.
The Pay Off: In addition to the thrill of seeing their creativity take shape in clothing, fashion designers can be well-compensated. In May 2008, the mean annual wage for salaried fashion designers was $61,160. Remember: starting salaries in fashion can be low, so you’ll need to be committed to this career!
The Degree: Fashion designers are hired on the strength of an innovative, creative portfolio and the education that comes with an associate’s degree in fashion design. So if you have a strong fashion sense, that two year investment might really pay off handsomely for you.
If you want a fast-paced career, consider becoming a restaurant manager. Restaurant managers work with kitchen staff, wait staff…they even interact with customers to ensure that the service and food is up to par. Food ordering, employee recruiting, and preparing payroll are some other common duties.
The Pay Off: Food service managers earned an average of $46,320 yearly in last month. Top earners averaged at more than $76,940 per year.
The Degree: Experience in the food services industry is a common entry path into food service management, however, a two-year associate’s degree in hospitality or food service management can also give you the real-world experience needed for the job.
All salary data from the U.S. Department of Labor
By Jason Latshaw
It may not be your ultimate dream job, and it may not come with benefits, but as many as 600,000 new holiday jobs are opening up this season, and many employers estimate they’ll keep about 10 percent of the temporary workers on for full-time positions after the last presents have been unwrapped and the last New Year’s toast has been made.
Welding work can be rigorous and demanding. Can you imagine doing it in the dark, under 1,000 feet of water? Commercial divers do all kinds of repairs, construction work, search and rescue, and other tasks while floating over river beds or past schools of fish. Divers must be efficient workers, excellent communicators, comfortable working in teams and up for very physically demanding work. Divers attend diving school then look for work placement opportunities where they can build their skill and experience level.
2. Construction Superintendent – $22.52 – $35.17
From strip malls to 50 story office towers, construction superintendents are responsible for coordinating the building of commercial and residential structures. A person in this job needs to be an effective leader who can coordinate the teams and processes needed to complete a project on time, from hiring workers to getting materials to the site. Depending on the size of the project, there may be more than one construction manager involved. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most construction managers are often self-employed and those with college degrees in construction tend to have better job prospects.
3. Grant Writer – $24.75 – $50.51
When non-profit groups, research institutions and community-based organizations look for funding, they often rely on grant money. And, grant writers are responsible for bringing in those dollars. Besides having excellent written communication skills, grant writers must be good researchers, know how to organize information well, be aware of the best grant sources and know how to write persuasively. Many grant writers work for themselves, though a large organization can hire them full-time. And, grant writers have the opportunity to work for a cause they believe in which can make it a very satisfying job.
4. Ultrasound Technologist – $29.11 – $38.04
Diagnostic medical sonography is a growing field. When compared with less portable and more expensive approaches, like CT and MRI scans, ultrasound is growing in popularity. And, as the baby boomers age, this technology will become more in demand. Technologists often work at healthcare facilities and need to be available on weekends and evenings. This career can be entered several ways, including study at vocational institutions, colleges or in the armed forces, along with on-the-job training. There are certifications available and sonographers can also specialize in certain areas of the body.
5. Landscape Architect – $22.73 – $32.90
When a new freeway goes in or a home is being built, the undeveloped land around it often requires the care of a landscape architect. If you love the outdoors and have an eye for both beauty and function, this may be a great career for you. Landscape architects review a site, talk to their clients about their needs, create a plan, follow a budget and then work with the other members of the project team to ensure that the final landscaping is completed as planned. Landscape architects spend time indoors doing research, meeting with clients and creating proposals, but the rest of their time is spent on the job site. A bachelor’s or a master’s degree in landscape architecture is usually needed to enter this profession, as well as licensure in most states.
6. Handyman – $17.59 – $35.23
No matter how bad the economy gets, kitchen faucets still leak and broken stair railings must be repaired. Working as a handyman can give you plenty of autonomy and, depending on your skill level and who you are working for, you can charge a premium. While there are no official educational requirements, you need to have good business smarts. The majority of your business will likely come from referrals once you’ve proven yourself as a reliable and experienced worker.
7. Web Developer – $25.41 – $51.61
Here is a job where you can get paid much more than $30 per hour, if you’re good. Web developers work on the technical side of Web site creation. They use software languages and tools to create applications for the Web. A Web developer figures out who the users for the site will be and how best to give them information, from the organization of the site to, sometimes, its design. While a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field is needed to get hired in most Web developer roles, you can also gain skills with an associate’s degree and through certification courses.
8. Pipefitter – $22.50 – $33.41
Don’t you love a shower with nice, strong water pressure? A pipefitter helped to bring you that wonderful experience. Pipefitters make sure that water, waste water, natural gas and other substances flow through pipes that are correctly connected and adequate for their job. Pipefitters install and repair both the high-pressure and low-pressure pipe systems for manufacturing, heating and cooling of buildings and more. They may also install the automatic controls used to regulate these systems. Pipefitters don’t always have an easy job. They can end up working on remote oil fields or in cramped indoor spaces and may do emergency repair jobs on weekends. No degree is required for this job, but a long, intensive apprenticeship, which includes coursework and on-the-job training, is the most common route to getting started.
9. Medical Equipment Repairer – $24.39 – $32.26
If you want a career in the booming healthcare field, but are more mechanically than medically-oriented, you can still find work. There is a growing demand for the repair, maintenance and calibration of medical equipment like patient monitors, scanning machines, electric wheelchairs and more. Medical equipment repairers typically have an associate’s degree in biomedical equipment technology or engineering. Completing a bachelor’s degree increases your likelihood of advancement into management. While some of the work is routine, repairers must be ready to work evenings and weekends in case of emergencies.
10. Network Support Engineer – $23.27 – $31.11
Network support engineers maintain Internet and intranet systems in office places. If you have good technical skills and a helpful nature, this job could work for you. You install and maintain network hardware and software, analyze problems, and monitor the networks. You’re also responsible for network security. Large corporations, small businesses and government organizations are all looking to hire network engineers. A bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field is typically required to become a network support engineer, though a two-year degree or certification course and related work experience may be enough.
In the last week the latest unemployment figures were released, and the results were a mixed bag. Yes, jobs were created, and we’re happy about that. The unemployment rate was unchanged, and we’re not happy to see it so high but we’re glad it’s not higher. So the best way to approach the numbers is cautious optimism. Ideally the figures would be much better, but compared to how they were trending at the lowest points, we’re doing better now than we in 2008 and 2009.