The traditional school of thought has typically been the higher your degree, the more money you can expect to make. While that theory is still true to an extent, community college graduates who choose the right field of study can expect to make nearly as much as their co-workers with a four-year degree
. Check out these seven lucrative positions you can land with just a two-year degree program under your belt.
is a career that is simply always in demand, so jobs will be available regardless of what the economy might decide to do. Many nurses today get their foot in the career door with an associate degree, and then work their way up the hierarchy through practical job experience or additional education. Those who complete their degree program will also need to take state examinations for licensure in order to work in their state of residence.
According to College Surfing
, job growth for the nursing profession is expected to grow by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018. The average salary for registered nurses in 2009 was $63,750. In addition, nurses often enjoy added perks like robust benefit packages, flexible schedules and tuition assistance if they decide to pursue additional education for their career path.
There are few jobs as wonderfully flexible as that of a dental hygienist
. Work anywhere in the country – small towns and big cities – full time or part time, and make a good salary while doing so. Many dental hygienists jump start their career with a two-year degree and little college debt to worry about. The job typically offers good benefits, flexible scheduling and a pleasant office environment.
According to Fox Business
, the average annual salary for a dental hygienist is $66,570. Job growth is expected to continue through 2018 at a rate of 36 percent. There is a wealth of two-year programs available for this field nationwide, with more than 300 accredited by the Commission of Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association. A licensing examination is required before you can practice in your state.
Technical positions like this one did not always require a degree program in the past, but as the work has become more specialized, employers have begun to seek out job applicants with appropriate training under their belts. With an average annual salary of $46,426 and the potential to have your education paid for if you manage to break into an apprenticeship
position, this degree program offers a good value for the money.
“As the market is bouncing back, we’re seeing more of our grads get hired in the trade areas,” Wendy Cullen, vice president of employer development for Everest College
, told Fox Business. “In the trades we offer, electrical technicians
have the highest increase in earnings, over a 15-year period. There are a lot of opportunities for them right now.”
A fascinating and relatively new field, many community colleges are now offering programs in cybersecurity
to keep up with a growing need. According to the website for the Ann Arundel Workforce Development Corporation
, cybersecurity is projected to grow by 41 percent over the next eight years. Those who currently work in the field earn an average of $38 per hour.
There are many types of positions within the field of cybersecurity. Some can easily be entered with just a two-year degree, while others might require additional education to enter or advance in the field. Many cybersecurity specialists work for government agencies, but there is a need in the private business sector as well.
Behind every successful lawyer is a dedicated paralegal
assigned to conduct research, write briefs and prepare cases. These professionals work alongside lawyers in offices across the country, digging deep into the field of law to help attorneys represent their clients effectively. Paralegals work in a law offices, government agencies or private corporations.
The job of a paralegal is an interesting and diverse one, with an annual average salary $46,210. According to Fox Business, the top 10 percent of all paralegals bring in as much as $$73,450 per year. Most can break into the business with a two-year degree or a certificate program if they already hold a bachelor’s degree.
Performing standard x-rays, as well as MRIs and CAT scans, is the job of a radiology tech today. This field is a diverse one as well, with flexible schedules and a variety of settings in which to work. Radiology techs work alongside radiologists and other medical professionals, providing care to patients on both an urgent and routine basis.
The job of a radiology technician is one that is predicted to grow by about 17 percent through the year 2018, according to Fox Business. The job does require ongoing education, but that is typically paid for by the employer. The average annual salary in this field is $52,210.
Mortuary science is a field that will always be needed – particularly as the current baby boomer generation continues to age. The job typically requires a two-year degree and state licensure. Many community colleges offer this field of study, including Ivy Tech Community College
. Their mortuary science program is accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education – a good credential to look for when shopping for one of these programs.
Fox Business cites the average annual salary for a funeral director at $52,210. In addition to basic state licensure, those who want to embalm will need an additional license. Opportunities for self-employment are an added perk to the profession.
For even more ideas for a lucrative career, peruse our popular guide on the top three highest paying careers
that you can snag with just an associate's degree.