High Paying With Fast Degree or Certification


Skip the four year college and all of the student loans and lost time.

You can find a lucrative, rewarding career with a degree or certification program that can be completed in two years or less, and sometimes in just weeks.

Check out this list of career jobs that require less time in school, pay well, and are in high and growing demand. If any one appeals to you, we encourage you to explore the opportunity in detail.

This is by no means a complete list but does represent some of the more popular options to consider. We hope the list gets you thinking about your career development and gets you thinking a little out of the box. Salaries mentioned below are drawn from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and are just estimates to consider. Do your own research when you find a career path that might be right for you.

  1. Electrician
  2. Plumber
  3. HVAC Technician
  4. CDL Truck Driver
  5. Radiological Technologist
  6. Dental Hygienist
  7. Court Reporter
  8. Cardiographic Technician
  9. Computer Support / Technician
  10. Paralegal
  11. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
  12. Respiratory Therapist
  13. Cardiovascular Technologist
  14. Surgical Technologist
  15. Medical Laboratory Technician
  16. Network Systems Administrator
  17. Computer Programmer

1. Dental Hygienist

Cleaning teeth, inspecting mouths for signs of disease, and educating patients about proper oral care are the primary duties for people with this career.

  • Median pay—$74,820
  • Top pay—$101,820 or more
  • Job growth—20 percent

2. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

These healthcare technicians use special ultrasound technology to capture images that help doctors correctly diagnose and treat their patients.

  • Median pay—$72,510
  • Top pay—$100,480 or more
  • Job growth—23 percent

3. Registered Nurse

With just an associate’s degree, you can enter the world of providing and coordinating essential care for patients in places like hospitals, nursing facilities, and other healthcare settings.

  • Median pay—$71,730
  • Top pay—$106,530 or more
  • Job growth—15 percent

4. Web Developer

Building attractive and functional websites requires plenty of technical skill but not necessarily much schooling, especially if you already enjoy teaching yourself new tricks.

  • Median pay—$69,430
  • Top pay—$124,480 or more
  • Job growth—15 percent

5. Respiratory Therapist

Many people need professional care to help breathe effectively, which is where these health pros come in. The work can vary from facilitating life support to working in small clinics to assist people with asthma and other respiratory ailments.

  • Median pay—$60,280
  • Top pay—$83,520 or more
  • Job growth—23 percent

6. Cardiovascular Technologist

These specialists perform tests, take ultrasound images, or provide assistance during surgery for heart-related conditions.

  • Median pay—$56,850
  • Top pay—$93,100 or more
  • Job growth—10 percent

7. Electrician

A little vocational schooling and a short apprenticeship is usually enough to enter this trade that lets you wire buildings for electrical power and communications.

  • Median pay—$55,190
  • Top pay—$94,620 or more
  • Job growth—9 percent

8. Plumber

With a short amount of formal trade school or apprenticeship training, you can specialize in installing and repairing pipes and related equipment.

  • Median pay—$53,910
  • Top pay—$93,700 or more
  • Job growth—16 percent

9. Commercial Diver

This type of tradesperson works underwater in special scuba gear to help build, repair, or remove large structures or equipment.

  • Median pay—$49,140
  • Top pay—$108,170 or more
  • Job growth—11 percent

10. Paralegal or Legal Assistant

Supporting lawyers by taking care of responsibilities like legal research, administrative tasks, or document drafting is what these well-paid professionals are trained for.

  • Median pay—$50,940
  • Top pay—$82,050 or more
  • Job growth—15 percent

11. HVAC Technician

These tradespeople install, maintain, and repair the systems that heat and cool our homes, businesses, and other buildings.

  • Median pay—$47,610
  • Top pay—$76,230 or more
  • Job growth—15 percent

12. Surgical Technologist

Preparing operating rooms, organizing surgical equipment, and assisting surgeons during operations are a few of the main roles for this kind of healthcare technician.

  • Median pay—$47,300
  • Top pay—$69,170 or more
  • Job growth—12 percent

13. Heavy Equipment Operator

This skilled trade involves controlling big construction machinery used for building roads or major structures.

  • Median pay—$47,810
  • Top pay—$84,160 or more
  • Job growth—12 percent

14. Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse

No degree is required to get into this level of nursing, which lets you work alongside doctors and other health professionals after a quick vocational education.

  • Median pay—$46,240
  • Top pay—$62,160 or more
  • Job growth—12 percent

15. Medical Laboratory Technician

People in this occupation collect fluid and tissue samples from medical patients and perform basic diagnostic tests using special lab equipment.

  • Median pay—$52,330
  • Top pay—$80,330 or more
  • Job growth—14 percent

Other High-Paying Jobs With Little Schooling Required


Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree

In addition to the above careers, the following options can also pay well and are expected to have some job growth. And they can often be started without a degree or with just a short amount of formal training or certification preparation.

16. Computer Programmer

Although many programmers have bachelor’s degrees in computer science, a lot of other successful people in this field are able to begin their careers with under two years of formal training in software coding or mobile app development.

  • Median pay—$84,280
  • Top pay—$134,630 or more

17. Commercial Pilot (Non-Airline)

You don’t need a college degree to fly charters or to get paid for things like aerial photography or firefighting missions. But you do need certification from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), which can be prepared for at an aviation school that offers short pilot training.

  • Median pay—$82,240
  • Top pay—$160,480 or more

18. Network Systems Administrator

Looking after the day-to-day needs of an organization’s data communications systems is what this technology-based vocation is all about.

  • Median pay—$82,050
  • Top pay—$130,720 or more

19. Multimedia Artist or Animator

With the success of the video game and other entertainment industries like film and TV, the need for those with artistic talent and 2D or 3D computer animation skills is always present.

  • Median pay—$72,520
  • Top pay—$124,310 or more

20. Electrical or Electronics Engineering Technician

Helping engineers develop and test equipment and devices related to things like computers, health monitoring, communications, or navigation is what this kind of specialist does.

  • Median pay—$64,330
  • Top pay—$95,140 or more

21. Police Officer

Although requirements vary from agency to agency, in a lot of cases you can become an attractive candidate for police academy training by being in good physical shape and having a little bit of criminal justice schooling.

  • Median pay—$61,380
  • Top pay—$101,620 or more

22. Aircraft Mechanic

The exciting trade of repairing and maintaining airplanes or helicopters can be learned by getting short FAA-approved training from an aviation school.

  • Median pay—$62,920
  • Top pay—$97,820 or more

23. Mechanical Engineering Technician

With a quick associate’s degree in this field, you can begin assisting mechanical engineers with the development, testing, and manufacturing of things like industrial machines, engines, and tools with moving parts.

  • Median pay—$56,250
  • Top pay—$85,430 or more

24. Architectural Drafter

Using computer-assisted design and drafting (CADD) programs, these professionals turn the ideas of architects into plans and blueprints that can be used for the actual construction of buildings.

  • Median pay—$54,920
  • Top pay—$80,880 or more

25. Civil Engineering Technician

Infrastructure projects like bridges and highways have their beginnings in the design and planning stage, which is what these professionals assist with.

  • Median pay—$52,580
  • Top pay—$79,600 or more

26. Graphic Designer

Visually communicating ideas through graphics and illustrations that inform people and capture their attention is what this occupation is all about. Plus, career advancement in this field can be very rewarding since art directors, depending on their experience and particular industries, can make over $166,400 in some locations.

  • Median pay—$50,370
  • Top pay—$85,760 or more

27. Diesel Mechanic

In this automotive trade, the focus is on inspecting, repairing, or overhauling large vehicles with diesel engines such as trucks, buses, and rolling machinery used in mining or construction.

  • Median pay—$47,350
  • Top pay—$72,180 or more