25 Top High Paying Jobs with an Associate’s Degree
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to spend many years in school to qualify for a high paying job. By pursuing an associate’s degree instead of attending a four-year college, you could spend as little as two years in school and get a great job after graduation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly salary for all workers in the US was $827 in 2013, which amounts to an annual income of $43,004. Below we have listed 25 high-paying jobs that require only an associate’s degree. Each of the featured jobs garnered a median annual income above the 2013 national average.
1. Air Traffic Controllers
Job Summary- Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of air traffic to ensure that aircraft remain a safe distance apart and to minimize delays. They issue take-off and landing instructions, monitor and direct the movement of aircraft, and so much more.
Projected Growth- The employment of air traffic controllers is expected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022.
2. Radiation Therapists
Job Summary- Radiation therapists administer radiation treatments to patients with cancer and other diseases. They operate machines called linear accelerators, which are used to deliver radiation therapy.
Median Annual Wage- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for radiation therapists was $79,140 in May 2013.
Projected Growth- The employment of radiation therapists is expected to grow at a much faster than average rate of 24% from 2012 to 2022.
3. Nuclear Technicians
Job Summary- Nuclear technicians work in nuclear power production or assist engineers, physicists, and other professionals in research. Their role is to monitor the performance of equipment used in power generation or nuclear experiments.
Median Annual Wage– The median annual wage of nuclear technicians was $72,610 in May 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Projected Growth– The employment of nuclear technicians is projected to grow 15% from 2012 to 2022.
4. Nuclear Medicine Technologists
Job Summary- Nuclear medicine technologists create images of various parts of a patient’s body using a scanner. They also prepare and administer radioactive drugs for patients who undergo the scans so that the abnormal areas of the body can be differentiated from the normal areas.
Projected Growth- The employment of nuclear medicine technologists is projected to grow 20% from 2012 to 2022, which is a rate that is faster than average.
5. Dental Hygienists
Job Summary- Dental hygienists clean patients’ teeth and examine their teeth and gums to check for signs of disease. Dental hygienists also provide preventive dental care and teach patients good dental hygiene habits.
Median Annual Wage- The median annual wage of dental hygienists was $71,110 in May 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Projected Growth– The employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow 33% from 2012 to 2022, which is a much faster than average rate.
6. Funeral Service Managers
Job Summary- Funeral service managers organize and manage all of the details of funerals. Their duties may include preparing remains, providing emotional support to the bereaved, and filing death certificates.
Median Annual Wage- The median annual wage of funeral service managers was $68,420 in May 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
7. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
Job Summary- Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians operate special imaging equipment to create images or conduct tests. These images and test results help doctors assess and diagnose medical conditions.
Projected Growth- The BLS reports that the employment of diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to grow 46% from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than average, while the employment of cardiovascular technologists and technicians should grow 30%.
8. Registered Nurses
Job Summary- Registered nurses provide and coordinate patient care. They also educate patients, their families, and the general public about health conditions, as well as provide emotional support and advice.
Projected Growth- The employment of web developers is expected to grow 20% from 2012 to 2022, which is a rate that is faster than average.
10. Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians
Job Summary- Aerospace engineering and operations technicians operate and maintain equipment used to develop, test, and produce new aircraft and spacecraft. They often use computer-based modeling and simulation tools in their work.
Median Annual Wage- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for aerospace engineering and operations technicians was $62,680 in May 2013.
Job Summary- Computer network support specialists support IT employees within their organization in the use of computer software or equipment. They may test and evaluate network systems, perform maintenance, and troubleshoot network problems.
Median Annual Wage- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for computer network support specialists was $60,180 in May 2013.
12. Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians
Job Summary- Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help engineers design and develop computers, navigational equipment, communications equipment, and other electronic equipment. They evaluate and test products with diagnostic and measuring devices.
Median Annual Wage- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for electrical and electronics engineering technicians was $58,540 in May 2013.
Job Summary- Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing. They use tests to evaluate patients, perform chest physiotherapy to remove mucus from the lungs, connect patients to ventilators, and more.
Median Annual Wage- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of respiratory therapists was $56,290 in May 2013.
Projected Growth- The employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 19% from 2012 to 2022, which is a rate that is faster than average.
14. Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians
Job Summary- Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft. They may also perform inspections required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Projected Growth- The employment of radiologic and MRI technologists is projected to grow 21% from 2012 to 2022, which is a rate that is faster than average for all occupations.
16. Geological and Petroleum Technicians
Job Summary- Geological and petroleum technicians support scientists and engineers in exploring and extracting natural resources, such as gas, oil, and minerals. They analyze samples of soil and minerals with the goal of finding these valuable resources.
Median Annual Wage- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for geological and petroleum technicians was $53,410 in May 2013.
Job Summary- Mechanical engineering technicians help mechanical engineers design, develop, test, and manufacture mechanical devices, including engines, tools, and machines. Their duties may include making sketches and layouts, analyzing data, and making calculations and estimates.
Median Annual Wage- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for mechanical engineering technicians was $52,390 in May 2013.
Job Summary- Electro-mechanical technicians work closely with electrical and mechanical engineers. They install, troubleshoot, repair, and upgrade electronic and computer-controlled mechanical systems.
Job Summary- Industrial engineering technicians work with industrial engineers, helping them implement designs to effectively use personnel, materials, and machines in various settings, such as healthcare organizations, factories, and stores. Industrial engineering technicians prepare diagrams showing how machines are used and materials are handled.
Median Annual Wage- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for industrial engineering technicians was $52,020 in May 2013.
Projected Growth- The employment of drafters is expected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022.
21. Civil Engineering Technicians
Job Summary- Civil engineering technicians assist civil engineers in planning and designing the construction of utilities, bridges, highways, and other major infrastructure projects. They also assist with commercial, residential, and land development.
Median Annual Wage- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for civil engineering technicians was $47,780 in May 2013.
Job Summary- Paralegals and legal assistants perform a variety of tasks to support lawyers, such as maintaining and organizing files, drafting documents, and conducting research. They help lawyers prepare for trials, hearings, and meetings.
Median Annual Wage- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for paralegals and legal assistants was $47,570 in May 2013.
Job Summary- Environmental engineering technicians are responsible for carrying out the plans that environmental engineers develop. Their responsibilities may include collecting samples for testing; mitigating sources of environmental pollution; and testing, operating, and modifying equipment used to prevent and clean up pollution.
Median Annual Wage- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for environmental engineering technicians was $46,160 in May 2013.
Job Summary- Medical equipment repairers install, maintain, and repair equipment used for patient care. They may replace and repair parts, test and calibrate parts and equipment, and perform preventive maintenance, among other tasks.
Median Annual Wage- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of medical equipment repairers was $44,180 in May 2013.
Projected Growth- The employment of medical equipment repairers is projected to grow 30% from 2012 to 2022, which is a much faster than average rate compared to all occupations.
25. Chemical Technicians
Job Summary- Chemical technicians use special lab equipment and techniques to help chemical engineers and chemists research, develop, and produce chemical products and processes. Their duties may include preparing chemical solutions, setting up and maintaining lab instruments and equipment, and compiling and interpreting test results.
Earning a college degree is not a decision to take lightly. It requires years of time and effort and can be expensive. Skyrocketing tuition and high unemployment rates have led many families to rethink their plans of sending their kids to four-year colleges and universities. As the above list demonstrates, earning a bachelor’s degree is not the only way to get a high-paying job. Oftentimes, it is possible to achieve a higher return-on-investment by pursuing a two-year degree and entering the workforce sooner. An associate’s degree in the right field can open doors to a number of well-paid job opportunities. Now that you know more about the available jobs with an associate’s degree, consider pursuing an associate’s degree to start on the path to a fulfilling and lucrative career.