Jobs That Pay Well Don’t Always Require College Degrees
These career fields offer better-than-average starting wages
Have you heard the “conventional wisdom” that says you need to go to college to enjoy a successful career? Would you be surprised to know there are millions of jobs out there that pay well, offering pay rates of $20/hour and higher, and don’t require a 4-year degree to land one? TV personality Mike Rowe has been saying this for years (we at Lincoln Tech are big fans), and the numbers definitely back it up.
”I want a career that pays well, but what is this ‘median’ pay rate everyone talks about?”
Median pay rates are defined as roughly the halfway point between the highest and lowest ends of a salary range. As an employee, you can expect to reach the median pay rate with experience in the field, and in some cases, additional training or certifications. Every career path is different, and it’s important to keep in mind that a median pay rate isn’t what you can expect to receive on Day One, or even during Year One, of your career. Starting or entry-level pay rates can be a useful comparison for those just entering a new field.
Still, with the federal minimum wage stagnant at $7.25/hour, and the majority of states currently posting minimum wages of less than $9/hour, entry-level pay rates in skilled professions offer better financial opportunity than many traditional fields. There’s always a way up if you’re stuck in a low-paying job you don’t love. Train to build in-demand skills, and a new, better-paying career can be in your future.
Eight career fields that pay well without a college degree
Computer Network Support Specialists: entry-level pay rates averaged more than $17/hour across the country in 2017, with median wages reaching nearly $30/hour and top rates exceeding $50/hour.
Electrician: the average median wage across the country was $26/hour, with top rates approaching $45/hour. With an average starting wage of almost $15.50, even entry-level electricians can earn well above minimum wage.
Computerized Manufacturing Professionals: graduates with the skills to set up and program Computer Numerical Control (CNC) equipment had the potential to earn entry-level hourly rates of $16 and up across the country. The median rate topped $25/hour, and the highest wages came close to $40/hour.
Diesel and Truck Technicians: these careers offered some of the highest pay rates in the transportation maintenance field in 2017, starting at $14.61 nationwide but reaching higher than $33.50/hour for top rates in some parts of the U.S.
Food Preparation: a strong median pay rate was one of the key ingredients that made these careers so attractive in 2017: the average median wage was $15.37/hour, with low and high-end rates of $10.20/hour and $26.86/hour, respectively.
Licensed Practical Nurses: after graduating and successfully completing their licensing exams, Practical Nurses averaged $15.85 upon entering the profession in 2017. Median national rates averaged higher than $21.50/hour, and the most experienced LPNs could expect hourly rates up to $30/hour in some parts of the country.
Medical Coding and Billing Specialists: these office-oriented positions offer pay rates that are competitive with those of more patient-focused roles, with an average median national rate of $18.83/hour and a range of $12.41 - $31 per hour, depending on your location and experience.
Dental Assistants: these patient-focused professionals can enter the field at roughly $12.50/hour, but with experience median pay rates averaged $18/hour across the country in 2017. Top rates exceeded $25/hour across the country, and some metro areas saw high-end rates break the $30/hour mark.
(All pay rates above, including state-specific wages, can be found at onetonline.org – a website affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor.)
It doesn’t take four (or more) years of college to land a job that pays well: you can put your potential to work by starting with a career training program that can prepare you for a field in two years or less.** In many cases, you can even work while you train and build valuable experience that can help you reach those median and high-end pay rates more quickly. Reach out to a Lincoln Tech campus near you to learn how you can take advantage of the millions of opportunities opening across the country.
* Salary information is based on entry-level, median, and high-end salary information collected for the year 2017 and can be found at www.careeronestop.org.
** Time to graduate depends on program and schedule selected. Call or visit your local campus for specific programs and scheduling options available.