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7 High-Paying Jobs That Don't Require a Bachelor's Degree


Lucrative and fast-expanding occupations are within reach for associate degree holders.

With millions of unemployed competing for jobs, many Americans are returning to school to learn new skills that will hopefully lead to a new job. With college expenses on the rise, however, pursuing a four-year degree may not be financially feasible for many of them.

But there a plenty of good-paying jobs that require only an associate degree, usually obtained at one of the nation's 1,200 community, or two-year, colleges, where costs are roughly a third of in-state tuition and expenses at a four-year college.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80 occupations typically require less than a bachelor's degree to enter and had median annual wages of more than $50,000 in May 2010, the most recent data available. The BLS notes that some of these positions had much higher median wages.

From that data, AOL Jobs has compiled a list of seven jobs that require only an associate degree, though some may require additional on-the-job training. The occupations listed here are a mix of those that pay annual wages of at least $50,000 and are in high demand, while others pay much more but are forecast to grow at a slower pace.

For more information, check out the BLS' latest edition of "Occupational Outlook Quarterly," which lists 13 additional jobs that pay well and require just a two-year degree.

7. Funeral Service Managers, Directors, Morticians and Undertakers:

A career that involves routinely working with corpses may not seem like the best job choice, but morticians and undertakers often point to the satisfaction they get from helping those in mourning as the reason they like working in the funeral business. The job involves arranging funeral details and managing funeral homes, which often requires long hours, including working nights and weekends, as well as being on call. An associate degree in mortuary science and state certification are required. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts about average growth in this field, but notes that those jobs seekers who have embalming skills and are willing to relocate have the best job prospects.
  • Median annual pay: $54,330.
  • Projected job openings 2010-20: 10,700.
  • Related job experience: none.
  • On-the-job training: apprenticeship.
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