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, many high-paying jobs only require a two-year degree. These two-year programs are often referred to as associates degrees. If making the big bucks is what you want to do, consider investing your time into one of these high-paying career options that only require a two-year degree.
Though nursing programs can vary in their time requirements, many of the two-year nursing programs can lead to high-paying jobs. One of the best aspects of nursing is it offers lots of opportunities for growth. This profession is also quite stable through a recession. Individuals in this career can expect to earn an average salary of about $55,000 per year or more.
Those with good math and science skills may choose to be an engineering technician. There is a wide range of engineering specialties from which to choose. 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.
Though it only requires two-year degree, this career also generally requires workers to obtain a license or certification on top of the educational requirement. Despite the added hurdle, a career as a dental hygienist pays well. 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. Demand for hygienists is expected to increase in the future.
Computer Support Specialists
In today's high-tech world, expertise in computers and related technology can earn a good wage. Two-year computer support specialist programs can support a career in everything from IT or network security to computer support and help desk-type positions. These jobs tend to offer yearly incomes between $46,000 and $60,000. They generally come with the added perks of flexible schedules or the ability to work remotely.
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
Job prospects are expected to increase in the coming years, which is great news for those who want to have a career in the medical field without spending a long time in school. 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. Salaries are in the range of $52,000 per year.
If you've got a creative mind mixed with strong technical skill, graphic or web design could be a great career option. 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 who go to college often have greater earnings potential than those who don't. Sometimes, a two-year degree is all you need to get a high paying job...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.