7 High-Growth Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree

Posted July 12, 2013 by
Aaron Gouveia

Aaron Gouveia, Salary.com contributing writer

“What are your plans after you graduate from high school?”

For most recent graduates over the last few decades, the answer has been automatic and unequivocal — college. With more and more jobs making a bachelor’s degree a minimum requirement, there has never been a greater emphasis on higher education. And for the most part that’s a good thing as more education is almost always better than less.

But times are changing.

First of all, the sheer increase in cost just to attend college has been steadily climbing year over year. College Board’s survey of college pricing found a “moderate” cost to attend an in-state public college is $22,261 per year, while it’ll cost $43,289 per year to attend a private institute of higher learning. Assuming you’re like most Americans and can’t foot that kind of a bill out of pocket, you’ll have to take out student loans. Which means depending on what you choose to study and eventually make a career out of, your return on investment might not be worth the high cost of college.

Don’t Be Afraid of “Dirty Jobs”

Mike Rowe is not only the host of the popular TV show “Dirty Jobs,” he’s also an outspoken advocate for skilled labor in the United States via his website www.mikeroweworks.com.

Rowe, who spoke with Salary.com last year on this topic, isn’t minimizing the importance of education or trying to dissuade people from attending college. In most cases, you will make more money with a degree than without one. But somewhere along the line, the unfortunate fact of the matter is skilled labor and learning a trade went from the “American Way” to being considered a dead-end of sorts. Now Rowe is taking it upon himself to cast skilled labor in a better light and stress that it can be a positive alternative to college with many financially viable careers to consider.

In that light, we combined some of our salary data with job growth projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to come up with a list of careers expected to fluorish over the better part of the next decade.

1. Home Care Aide

Projected increase in jobs by 2020: 70%
Median annual salary: $26,226
Projected 2020 salary: $32,283

You don’t need four years of higher education to get an important job that makes a direct and positive impact on the lives of people who are truly in need.

Home Care Aides provide service to individuals — usually in their own homes — who need assistance caring for themselves as a result of old age, sickness, disability and/or other inflictions. Whilel this isn’t being a nurse, home care may include light housecleaning, laundry, meal preparation, transportation, companionship, and advice on such things as nutrition, cleanliness, household activities and more. It’s an “in the trenches” job in which you can really make a difference.

While this job assisting the elderly and infirm does not usually require a college degree, it could require certification from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice.

2. Receptionist

Projected increase in jobs by 2020: 24%
Median annual salary: $30,025
Projected 2020 salary: $36,927

You don’t have to be a model or an executive to be the face of a company, because receptionists are often the all-important first impression that people have about businesses.

Some people view the work done by receptionists as grunt work which includes answering phones, transferring calls, and fetching coffee for waiting clients. But with such a public-facing role, receptionists are in an important role because they set the tone — both in person and on the phone — for business success or failure.

This position doesn’t usually require more than a high school diploma, and it could serve as a springboard for additional career opportunities for the right candidate.

3. Heavy Truck Driver

Projected increase in jobs by 2020: 21%
Median annual salary: $38,412
Projected 2020 salary: $47,243

No matter how many technological advances we make, businesses will still have to physically distribute and deliver their products. Which is probably why the number of truck driver jobs is expected to increase by more than 20% over the next seven years.

There’s nothing too fancy about this, as truck drivers deliver goods from one place to the other. Most truck drivers will have to load and unload cargo, employ best practices for keeping the cargo safe during transport, and keep appropriate documention of all the goods. Truck drivers are also responsible for a certain degree of vehicle maintenance, and must earn a commercial driver’s license and have an acceptable driving record. Continue reading . . .

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