Great Careers Without a Degree

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Great Careers Without a Degree

Dental Hygienist
Ranking 1

Median Salary $68,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Associates
Exploring the Dream Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provide other preventative dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health.
Living the Dream Almost all dental hygienists work in dentists’ offices, which are clean and well lit. More than half of dental hygienists work part time.
Reaching the Dream Dental hygienists typically need an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. All states require dental hygienists to be licensed; requirements vary by state.

Online Advertising Manager
Ranking 2

Median Salary $87,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Bachelors
Exploring the Dream Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan programs to generate interest in a product or service. They work with art directors, sales agents, and financial staff members.
Living the Dream About 24 percent of advertising and promotions managers worked for advertising agencies in 2012. About 16 percent of marketing managers worked in the management of companies and enterprises industry.
Reaching the Dream A bachelor’s degree is required for most advertising, promotions, and marketing management positions. These managers typically have work experience in advertising, marketing, promotions, or sales.

Web Developer
Ranking 3

Median Salary $76,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Associates
Exploring the Dream Web developers design and create websites. They are responsible for the look of the site. They are also responsible for the site’s technical aspects, such as performance and capacity, which are measures of a website’s speed and how much traffic the site can handle. They also may create content for the site.
Living the Dream About a quarter of web developers were self-employed in 2012. Non-self-employed developers work primarily in the computer systems design and related services industry.
Reaching the Dream The typical education needed to become a web developer is an associate’s degree in web design or related field. Web developers need knowledge of both programming and graphic design.

Medical Secretary
Ranking 4

Median Salary $31,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Diploma
Exploring the Dream Secretaries and administrative assistants perform routine clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, draft messages, schedule appointments, and support other staff.
Living the Dream Although secretaries and administrative assistants work in nearly every industry, many are employed in schools, hospitals, governments, and legal and medical offices. Most work full time in office settings. Virtual assistants typically work from a home of
Reaching the Dream High school graduates with basic office and computer skills usually qualify for entry-level positions. Although most secretaries learn their job in several weeks, many legal and medical secretaries require several months of training to learn industry-spec

Paralegal Assistant
Ranking 5

Median Salary $47,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Associates
Exploring the Dream Paralegals and legal assistants do a variety of tasks to support lawyers, including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents.
Living the Dream Paralegals and legal assistants are found in all types of organizations, but most work for law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies. They usually work full time, and overtime is sometimes needed to meet deadlines.
Reaching the Dream Most paralegals and legal assistants have an associate’s degree or a certificate in paralegal studies. In some cases, employers may hire college graduates with a bachelor’s degree with no legal experience or specialized education and train them on the job

Stenographer-Court Reporter
Ranking 6

Median Salary $48,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Diploma
Exploring the Dream Court reporters create word-for-word transcriptions at trials, depositions, and other legal proceedings. Some court reporters provide captioning for television and real-time translation for deaf or hard-of-hearing people at public events, at business meetings, or in classrooms.
Living the Dream Most court reporters work for state or local governments in courts or legislatures. However, some work remotely in broadcast captioning from either their home or a central office.
Reaching the Dream Many community colleges and technical institutes offer postsecondary certificate programs for court reporters. Many states require court reporters who work in legal settings to be licensed or certified by a professional association.

Heating and Refrigeration Mechanic
Ranking 7

Median Salary $43,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Diploma
Exploring the Dream Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers—often called HVACR technicians—work on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control the temperature and air quality in buildings.
Living the Dream HVACR technicians work in residential homes, schools, hospitals, office buildings, or factories. Their worksites may be very hot or cold because the heating and cooling systems they must repair may not be working, and because some parts of these systems a
Reaching the Dream Because HVACR systems are increasingly complex, employers generally prefer applicants with postsecondary education or those who have completed an apprenticeship. Some states and localities require technicians to be licensed.

Surveyor
Ranking 8

Median Salary $55,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Bachelors
Exploring the Dream Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries. They provide data relevant to the shape and contour of the Earth’s surface for engineering, mapmaking, and construction projects.
Living the Dream Surveying involves both field work and indoor work. When working outside, surveyors must stand for long periods and often walk long distances, sometimes in bad weather. Most work full time.
Reaching the Dream Surveyors typically need a bachelor’s degree. They must be licensed before they can certify legal documents and provide surveying services to the public.

Executive Assistant
Ranking 9

Median Salary $44,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Diploma
Exploring the Dream Secretaries and administrative assistants perform routine clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, draft messages, schedule appointments, and support other staff.
Living the Dream Although secretaries and administrative assistants work in nearly every industry, many are employed in schools, hospitals, governments, and legal and medical offices. Most work full time in office settings. Virtual assistants typically work from a home of
Reaching the Dream High school graduates with basic office and computer skills usually qualify for entry-level positions. Although most secretaries learn their job in several weeks, many legal and medical secretaries require several months of training to learn industry-spec

Insurance Agent
Ranking 10

Median Salary $47,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Diploma
Exploring the Dream Insurance sales agents help insurance companies generate new business by contacting potential customers and selling one or more types of insurance. Insurance sales agents explain various insurance policies and help clients choose plans that suit them.
Living the Dream Although most insurance sales agents work for insurance agencies and brokerages, which sell the policies of several companies, some work directly for a single insurance company. Most insurance sales agents work in offices, although some may spend much of
Reaching the Dream Although most employers require agents to have a high school diploma, many agents have a bachelor’s degree. Agents must be licensed in the states where they work.

Industrial Machine Repairer
Ranking 11

Median Salary $45,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Diploma
Exploring the Dream Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Millwrights install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites.
Living the Dream Workers in this occupation must follow safety precautions and use protective equipment, such as hardhats, safety glasses, and hearing protectors. Most work full time. However, they may be on call and work night or weekend shifts. Overtime is common.
Reaching the Dream Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights typically need a high school diploma. However, industrial machinery mechanics need a year or more of training after high school, whereas maintenance workers typically receive on-the-jo

Cosmetologist
Ranking 12

Median Salary $23,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Diploma
Exploring the Dream Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists provide hairstyling and beauty services.
Living the Dream Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists work mostly in a barbershop or salon. Physical stamina is important, because they are on their feet for most of their shift
Reaching the Dream All states require barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists to be licensed. To qualify for a license, candidates are required to graduate from a state-approved cosmetology program.

Hair Stylist
Ranking 13

Median Salary $23,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Diploma
Exploring the Dream Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists provide hairstyling and beauty services.
Living the Dream Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists work mostly in a barbershop or salon. Physical stamina is important, because they are on their feet for most of their shift
Reaching the Dream All states require barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists to be licensed. To qualify for a license, candidates are required to graduate from a state-approved cosmetology program.

Tax Examiner - Collector
Ranking 14

Median Salary $49,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Bachelors
Exploring the Dream Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents ensure that federal, state, and local governments get their tax money from businesses and citizens. They review tax returns, conduct audits, identify taxes owed, and collect overdue tax payments.
Living the Dream Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents work for federal, state, and local governments. Many work primarily in an office environment; others spend most of their time doing field audits in taxpayers’ homes or places of business.
Reaching the Dream Most tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. However, the level of education and experience required varies by position and employer.

Wholesale Sales Representative
Ranking 15

Median Salary $52,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Diploma
Exploring the Dream Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. They contact customers, explain product features, answer any questions that their customers may have, and negotiate prices.
Living the Dream Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives work under pressure because their income and job security depend on the amount of merchandise they sell. Some sales representatives travel frequently.
Reaching the Dream Educational requirements vary, depending on the type of product sold. If the products are not scientific or technical, a high school diploma is generally enough for entry into the occupation. If the products are scientific or technical, sales representati

Construction Machine Operator
Ranking 16

Median Salary $40,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Diploma
Exploring the Dream Construction equipment operators drive, maneuver, or control the heavy machinery used to construct roads, bridges, buildings, and other structures.
Living the Dream Construction equipment operators work in nearly every weather condition. Workers often get dirty, greasy, muddy, or dusty. Most work full time, and some operators may have irregular hours. Some construction projects, especially road building, are done at
Reaching the Dream Many workers learn equipment operation on the job, while others learn through an apprenticeship or by attending private trade schools.

Electrical Technician
Ranking 17

Median Salary $56,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Diploma
Exploring the Dream Electricians install and maintain electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories.
Living the Dream Electricians work indoors and outdoors, in nearly every type of facility. Almost all electricians work full time, which may include evenings and weekends. Although the work is not as dangerous as other construction occupations, potential injuries include
Reaching the Dream Although most electricians learn through an apprenticeship, some start out by attending a technical school. Most states require electricians to be licensed.

Architectural Drafter
Ranking 18

Median Salary $46,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Associates
Exploring the Dream Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings and plans. Workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.
Living the Dream Although drafters spend much of their time working on computers in an office, some must visit job sites in order to collaborate with architects and engineers. Most drafters work full time.
Reaching the Dream Drafters typically need specialized training, which can be accomplished through a technical program that leads to a certificate or an associate’s degree in drafting.

Teachers Aide
Ranking 19

Median Salary $23,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Diploma
Exploring the Dream Teacher assistants work under a teacher’s supervision to give students additional attention and instruction.
Living the Dream Teacher assistants work in public and private schools, childcare centers, and for religious organizations. About 4 in 10 worked part time in 2012. Most do not work during the summer.
Reaching the Dream Educational requirements, which vary by school district and position, range from a high school diploma to an associate’s degree.

Sewage Plant Operator
Ranking 20

Median Salary $41,000 (Do Not Chase the Dollar - Chase Your Passion)
Educational Requirements Diploma
Exploring the Dream Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators manage a system of machines, often through the use of control boards, to transfer or treat water or wastewater.
Living the Dream Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators have a higher-than-average occupational injury rate. Most operators work full time.
Reaching the Dream Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators typically need a high school diploma and a license to work. They also typically undergo on-the-job training.

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