If you're looking to return to school, but the idea of a four-year degree just doesn't fit with your time or budgetary constraints, there are many high-paying jobs that only require a two-year degree. These two-year programs are often referred to as associates degrees. If making the big bucks is something you put a high value on, you might want to invest your time into one of these high-paying career options that only require two-years education. (University payment plans are a great option for reducing student loan borrowing, but only if you know the details. Refer to Student Borrowing: University Payment Plans Vs. Federal Student Loans.)

TUTORIAL: Starting A Small Business Tutorial

Registered Nurses
Though there is quite a bit of variance when it comes to nursing programs and the length of time it takes to complete them, many of the two-year nursing programs lead to high-paying jobs. One of the best things about nursing is that this career choice offers lots of opportunities for growth. This profession is also quite stable through recession. Individuals in this career can expect to earn an average salary of about $55,000 per year.

Engineering Technicians
Those with good math and science skills may choose a career as an engineering technician, though within this field there is a wide range of types of engineering to specialize in. Industrial engineering technicians can earn in the range of $47,000 annually, while environmental engineering technicians can earn about $41,000 per year. Electrical engineering technicians can expect to earn an annual salary of about $47,000 per year, while aerospace engineering technicians can expect to earn even more, approximately $52,000 per year.

Dental Hygienists
This career option may only require a two-year degree, but it also generally requires workers to obtain a license or certification on top of the educational requirement. Despite the added hurdle to cross in obtaining a position as a dental hygienist, it's definitely worth it when the pay checks start to come in. The average yearly income for a dental hygienist comes in at over $57,000 per year, with some hygienists earning well over $60,000 annually. Also of note, the demand for this position is expected to increase over the coming years.

Computer Support Specialists
In our modern high-tech world, those with the know-how when it comes to computers can expect to earn a good wage. Two-year computer support specialist programs can cover everything from IT positions or network security to computer support and help desk-type positions. These jobs tend to offer yearly incomes anywhere in the range of $46,000 to $60,000. They generally come with the added perks of flexible schedules or the ability to work remotely.

Paralegal
Good lawyers depend on good paralegals to provide administrative support. Though paralegals won't earn as much during their careers as a lawyer will, they still earn a great wage considering this career only requires a fraction of the education. Individuals working in this field can expect to rake in an average annual salary of about $46,000.

Diagnostic Medical Imaging and X-Ray Technicians
Employment in this segment of the medical field is expected to increase in the coming years, which is great news for those that have an interest in working this field without investing the huge amount of time and money required to become a doctor. Diagnostic medical imaging staff and x-ray technicians may work in either clinics, hospitals or labs that use imaging technology to assist in diagnosing medical issues. These medical staff can expect to earn in the range of $52,000 per year after completing a two-year program. These positions are also great for those that wish to work in a flexible work environment.

Web Designer
If you've got a creative mind mixed with strong technical skill, graphic or web design is a great career option for you. Companies always require talented designers to modify or create websites, and this career option also offers great potential for workers to start their own businesses. According to PayScale, website designers can expect to earn an average salary in the range of $49,000 annually, though the sky is the limit if you go into business for yourself or work freelance.

Physical Therapy Assistant
The medical field is always a fairly stable career option, and physical therapy is no different. Jobs in this field are definitely on the rise, especially as the population continues to age and has an increased need for physical therapy. Individuals in this field can expect to earn over $46,000 per year on average.

The Bottom Line
It's definitely true that no education is ever wasted, so whether you opt for the four-year degree or if you decide that two years is all you're willing to invest, those that go to college often have greater earning potential than those that don't. However, some two-year programs can definitely lead to high paying jobs; at times perhaps even higher paying than some four-year programs. Some employers in particularly high-demand industries may even offer incentives to those that complete educational programs that enable them to work in the field. These incentives can come in the form of tuition rebates or tax breaks.

Do your homework before you head back to school and know what the prospects are in the industries you're considering. (Effectively using your commute time could place you miles ahead of your competition. Check out Commuters' University: On-The-Road Learning.)

Related Articles
  1. Entrepreneurship

    Top 10 Side Jobs You Could Start Now

    Ways to make extra cash in your spare time.
  2. Entrepreneurship

    Elon Musk Success Story: Net Worth, Education & Top Quotes

    Read more about Elon Musk, the South African immigrant turned technology and engineering entrepreneur and inventor worth $13.6 billion.
  3. Retirement

    Why are 401(k) contributions limited?

    Find out why contributions to 401(k) retirement plans are limited, including what the current contribution limits are and how limits encourage participation.
  4. Stock Analysis

    Why Walmart Raised Its Minimum Wage

    Read about the potential pros and cons of Walmart's promise to increase its minimum starting salary to $10 an hour.
  5. Entrepreneurship

    Millennials Guide: Freelancer vs. Employee

    How to decide if joining the gig economy is right for you.
  6. Savings

    All About Income

    Income is the money you or a business earns by providing goods or services, or through investments.
  7. Insurance

    Healthcare Premiums Keep Rising, But Salaries Aren’t

    Learn how college and health insurance costs have skyrocketed while wages have stagnated, and how, given the necessity of these services, consumers are stuck.
  8. Professionals

    Career Advice: Management Consulting Vs. Law

    Compare the career opportunities between management and law using such criteria as skills needed, starting salary and work-life balance.
  9. Taxes

    Top Tips for Minimizing Taxes on Severance Pay

    A look at the top ways to lessen the tax burden on severance pay.
  10. Professionals

    8 Justifications For Sky-high CEO Salaries

    Why are CEO salaries so astronomically high? There may be more to the story than you think.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Back Pay

    The amount of salary and other benefits that an employee claims ...
  2. Payroll Card

    A prepaid card onto which an employer loads an employee’s wages ...
  3. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

    A federal law designed to ensure equal pay for all workers, regardless ...
  4. Cash Bonus

    A lump sum of money awarded to an employee, either occasionally ...
  5. Society of Actuaries (SOA)

    The SOA is a professional organization for actuaries in the U.S., ...
  6. Foreign remittance

RELATED FAQS
  1. What is the difference between AGI (adjusted gross income) and gross income?

    In the United States, individuals pay taxes based on their adjusted gross income, or AGI, rather than their gross income. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the relationship between research and development and innovation?

    Although it's possible to achieve innovation without research and development and it's possible to conduct research and development ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How is marginal propensity to save calculated?

    Marginal propensity to save is used in Keynesian macroeconomics to quantify the relationship between changes in income and ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How can minimum wages contribute to a market failure?

    The minimum wage acts like a price floor on labor, reducing the supply of jobs available to a level below the market-clearing ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How does the always be closing (ABC) strategy benefit a salesperson's sales funnel?

    It is good practice in sales to always be closing, because it's common for a salesperson's sales funnel to be leaky. When ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are some common functions of business intelligence technologies?

    Although business intelligence technologies have some common functions, their main function is to support a company's decision-making ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!