Employment Trends

10 High-Paying Vocational Jobs to Consider

Written by Peter Jones

Education is very important and is instrumental towards furthering your career. But that doesn’t mean you have to complete a traditional four-year degree to find job satisfaction and career success.

Here are 10 of the highest paying vocational careers—most of which require only an associate’s degree, or some certification or degree from a technical school. If any of these sing to you, you might be able to bring home a good deal of bacon without having to go get an expensive and time-consuming bachelor’s degree. So think about looking outside the traditional box and expanding your earning potential—and getting a leg up on all of those Humanities majors who are working in retail and underemployed!

1. Electrical Repairman

Maintain and repair electronics and electrical equipment in both household settings and at companies, and make a median annual salary of over $57k.

2. Commercial Pilot

Ever wonder what it’s like to fly planes? This job requires a bunch of hard work and training—FAA accredited flight school certification in addition to your associate’s—but the paycheck speaks for itself. The median annual salary is well over $57k, and you’ll see nothing but blue skies ahead! Fly passengers or cargo. Plus, the benefits are great!

3. Nuclear Medicine Technologist

You’ll need a specialized associate’s degree in nuclear medicine, but you can earn over $62k per year (median salary) working alongside radiologists or physicians.

4. Fashion Designer

Have an eye for fashion? Talent with a sewing machine? Get your associate’s or some specialized training at a fashion school and you could net a median annual salary of over $62k.

5. Plumber

This noble career is always in high demand. The median annual pay is around $50k, but top paid plumbers can make almost $90k. There’s also great growth in this field—about 12%.

6. Dental Hygienist

You need very little schooling to make an annual median salary of over $72k cleaning teeth, educating patients, and assisting dentists. And with a growth rate of 19%? No brainer.

7. Registered Nurse

Registered nurses are always in demand. With only an associate’s degree, you can help provide essential care for patients in any number of health care settings. And you can make median salary over $67k—but top earners can make over $101k.

8. Nuclear Technician

With an associate’s degree in applied sciences, you can make up to $65,500 in median annual pay managing and operating equipment in the nuclear power field.

9. Computer Specialist

Good with computers? Take your associate’s degree—or simply some specialized training at a technical school—and put your skills to work fixing and managing hardware, software, and other systems. The more skills you have, the more companies you’ll appeal to! And the median annual salary is over $68k.

10. Web Developer

If you have, or think you might have, a knack for building websites—an eye for design and good skill with computer software—then you might do well as a web developer. Median pay is nearly $65k per year, but top pay can be over $116k. And the growth rate is an insane 27%.

About the author

Peter Jones