20 Great Jobs Without a College Degree
As millions of college graduates prepare to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas and join the workforce, they face an economy with high unemployment rates, increasing competition for jobs and mounting debt from their college expenses.
Compare that to currently working employees who didn’t attend college but have spent the past four years making money and honing their workplace skills while amassing little to no debt. Not going to college certainly doesn’t jive with what our parents and teachers drummed into us growing up. But it begs the question: does it really pay to go to college? Is it worth earning a minimum of a four-year college degree, at least financially speaking?
There’s no simple answer. In fact, there’s much more to consider before taking the position that college no longer is worth the investment.
The annual cost for undergraduate tuition, room and board is estimated to be $12,804 at public institutions and $32,184 at private institutions for the 2010 academic year, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. That means that even a modest education—a bachelor’s degree from a public university or college—will cost at least $50,000. That expense can quadruple if you attend a top-level private university. Add to this the “opportunity cost,” meaning what you could earn over four years of working at a job instead of studying full-time, and you’re talking real money! So how long, if it all, does it take new graduates to recoup all those college costs?
Assuming you have no degree but are willing to do some advanced training, such as attending a technical school, you could earn around $30,000 a year as a beginner, if you are sharp. That means that over four years, you’d earn about $120,000, while your counterpart who’s in college earns little or nothing, and may even carry the same amount in debt by graduation.
In fact, the average debt for student loans is about $25,000, according to the Institute for College Access Success’ Project on Student Debt. Debts of $100,000 or more isn’t unheard of either, especially for those going to prestigious schools or those earning advanced degrees.
The table below compares the incomes of the top jobs in the Jobs Rated report, based on educational attainment required to get hired.
AVERAGE INCOME LEVELS, TOP 20 JOBS
No College Degree vs. Jobs Requiring 4-Year Degree or Higher