The Top Highest-Paying Jobs Requiring a Two Year Degree

August 22, 2011  |  

By Nola Ogunro

Lack of education is often cited as a main reason for higher rates of African-American unemployment. Yet getting an education to further your career can be a catch-22. Many people cannot afford to take a four-year break from working with little guarantee that they will be able to find a job with their bachelor’s. But this is not a reason to avoid getting a practical education. There are many lucrative careers for which qualified applicants will be in high demand in the coming years, which only require a two-year degree or vocational training. Here are some of the highest paying jobs that require only an associate degree according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Four of the highest paying jobs are in healthcare — and almost 600,000 registered nurses will be needed in the coming years. Are some of these jobs that only require a two-year degree right for you? Read on to decide.


–Median Income – $74,980/yr
–Can earn up to $110,550/yr
–Job increases by 2018 – 2,810
–Requirements: Associates Degree

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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  • is radiation therapist a good route, im in the military looking for avenues of a better if i wanna get out

  • i have complete my Radiation Therapists degree and i’m finding job so thanks for this post !

  • I work for Intel as a Manufacturing tech making 60K starting. I am just 6 classes short of my Electronics Engineering Technology degree. Long and short, I make CPUs.

  • Nuclear Technicians also tend be Navy Nuclear graduates as well. They get trained and have hands on experience. The course is developed by MIT.

  • Abdul

    If I graduate a community college from being a radiation therapist with a associates degree how much really will I make a year in Maryland

  • Guest

    My mom is an RN with an associates degree. She is very nurturing and has been told by many patients that she is an excellent nurse because she doesn’t always throw the work onto the aide. Needless to say, she made almost 100k last year. Of course she did work a lot and commute a long distance, but such is life. I think it depends on each individual and how willing they are to actually progress.

  • €ndrew

    There are too many people in this ******* country, screw it im just gonna go breaking bad in this ****.

  • Ben

    on the topic of commercial pilots… that is bullshit. major airlines wont even look at ur resume unless u have a bachelors. sure, u can go to flight school and get a 2 year degree… but youll b making 20k a year for a longgg time, with a maximum salary of 50k a year.

  • guest

    you cannot become an RN in 2 years, that is a 4 year bachelors degree, a 2 year nursing degree is an LPN

  • Nisa

    Is this article a mere duplication from another site or source? OR did the authur of this article actually research this info from studies? Asking because this list is a bit ridiculous to post on an African American site. Everyone one of OUR children/adults need to obtain a 4yr degree, most especially for the occupations listed, if not more. And almost all of these require some type of continuing education. Something this important should be written with more care for US. Come on FBD!!

  • Unfortunately, the author failed to mention occupations in the legal and criminal industry ~ why??

  • Lainboo

    The only reason to get the B.S.N. Is if you want to become a head nurse or admin. You can finish those classes in a year n complete your bachlors

  • Jenise

    All these jobs that is mention on here required more than associate degree. I’ve research many different companies that offer the same jobs and then some and guess what, they want people who have bachelor degree, 2-5 year experience and extra skills in accountant, clerical, ect. I’m just a non-traditional college student that needs a job/career in which I can survive without being fear of being denied of job because of student loans or getting my gas turn off, ect. Something need to change in the job industry.

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  • Guest

    I think I am misunderstanding something. Number ten on your list is Aerospace engineering, and operations technicians. I don’t believe ANY type of engineering is a 2 yr degree.

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  • Casey1272

    This isn’t totally accurate.  More and more states are requiring bachelors in nursing to be employed by a hospital. IN fact New York made it a law

    • devans

      I wonder how many nurses aides work there?

  • cwgmpls

    So 5 of the 10 are some type of medical technician, earning about $70,000, when a person with similar skills in most other industries would be making maybe 40K?  And nobody can figure out why healthcare costs are out of control?  

    • Now why would someone in another field have medical skills? BTW, all costs are out of control.

  • Most people don’t want to work in a hospital or dentist’s office. Those are 2 places that cause the avg. person a lot of anxiety. 

    • devans

      You bet, I can remember very well, but home health was very rewarding. I insist that those nurses require at least 5 years of med surg to work home health. Most are gericitric patients and need more experience because of thier special needs. I had 2 and 4 year nurses come in and take my jobs constantly and most of those nurses were new grads and ” I lkie it” were their response to me informing them as they took my jobs,” you need more med surg experience.” They harmed alot of patients. The health care field needs to be closely looked at it has changed for the worst. But then so has our society.

  • Troll

    All I know is… Kissin’ a** and suckin d*** gets you in higher places then degree’s and experience.. lol…

  • Lsujoe

    Nice picture of a coal fired power plant that is supposed to be nuclear?  Cooling towers doth not maketh a nuke station. 

  •  There are quite a few jobs out there which do not require a degree; however, many of those jobs do require some types of training which may take a year or two. A tip for all the jobless out there: if you have experience, take that experience and pursue a job with your past experience. It may require you to relocate though. If you do not have experience, and you may want to get more training in something that is in demand. Many secure jobs are in the medical field, although engineers are always in high demand as well.

  • They got the whole commercial pilot thing wrong.  While a four year degree won’t necessary preclude you from getting an airline job it will make it much harder.  Most airlines require a 4 year degree, but what is the real kicker is the amount of flight time you have logged.  Be prepared to spend 80-100K just in flight training and be prepared to accept a job making maybe $15 an hour.  It takes alot of years and sacrifices to reach the salary that this article claims.  People don’t become airline pilots these days for the money.
    On a different note, if I knew my dental hygenist was making 93K a year, I think I would feel that I’m being ripped off.  More power to you if you can magically pull that off.
    And the Nursing thing, an Associates is all you need to be an RN, however a first year BSN will always put you a head of the line against a first year ASN.

  • lifesaver71

    I have been a Registered Nurse for 13 years;  I have a 2-year degree (that actually took 3 years) .  My salary is in the $90k range without OT.  Last year I grossed $176k.  Granted I worked quite a bit, but my benefits also allow for quite a bit of paid time off.  I am $10/hr lower than the top pay scale at my institution.  I work in a surgical ICU at a university hospital in the northeast.   The job is very demanding; I hold people lives in my hand, but I love my job and would not trade it for any other.

    • TY, lifesaver71, for setting the record straight.

  • Lopa

    Nurses do not need four year degrees. The only difference between the associates and the BSN in most environments are humanities courses and theory classes, however the “meat and potatoes” is the same. ADN or BSN we all sit for the same boards, and we all do the same job. If you wish to progress or work for a magnet hospital then yes, you do need a BSN.

    Otherwise, a floor nurse, is a floor nurse, is a floor nurse.

    Oh and the “nursing shortage” is a myth. As long as states do not enact nurse/patient ratio laws hospitals will ALWAYS do more with less in order to turn a profit.

  • Carol Davis

    Radiation therapy is a relatively safe career field nowdays. The beam is electrically generated and due to the high energies involved the therapists are outside of the treatment  room behind concrete walls. The majority of training programs are either 4 year degrees, or require you to have an AA degree in radiologic technology (x-ray tech) followed by a 12-15month certificate course in radiation therapy. Please do not consider becoming a radiation therapist for the money, it involves dealing with cancer patients and you must have genuine empathy for them and a real interest in the field.

  • This article is BOGUS.  Pilots have to put in a LOT more than a 2 year degree, A LOT MORE.  Then they have to accept practically minimum wage for a few years to gain hours and eventually they make a salary that can be lived on.  Those high wages are after several years. 
    Get your facts straight and quit writing for headlines.  You should be ashamed of this article.

  • Nt548

    Wow…really an airline pilot?  Where the hell did this person get their BS statistics.  ALL major carriers require a 4 year degree.  

  • Real World

    this article is probably written by a random gal who happen to have “found” a generic statistics online… zero credibility to the author… do some “real” research in the “real” world

    • Saw6892

      The source is the bureau of labor statistics. What else could someone use to do their research?

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  • tr7fan

    my nurse practioner tells me it s a hard job thats why she became an np because she was just physically wore out from all the lifting involved as a nurse. i a woman who was permanently injured
    the first year she worked as rn. many back surgeries later shes got the point she doesnt leave the house. another man in the class ended up stealing meds from patients and lost his license another
    was arrested for drunk driving and lost his
    be careful how u work so u dont get hurt

    • Mom2faalli

      Bedside nursing is very difficult.  I remember when I was hired by the hospital I currently work for and was told that in 2yrs 50% of the people in the new hire group I was in would no longer be working there.  Well, I have held up for almost 20 yrs as an Assoc Degree RN. While at the bedside the pay is the same, your opportunities for advancement are limited… unless you really like bedside nursing, (and there are some who do like it in spite of the stress) you could be stuck in a career with a high turnover and “burn out” rate.  Offices do not pay what hospitals can and can still be difficult places to work.  The good thing is that most hospitals do want their nurses to have at least a BSN and so will help pay education to help you obtain that, often offering programs which get you through quicker by allowing you to use work time as clinical time for school. 
      I see many new nurses heading straight into advanced practice nursing as quick as they can get the education. and while I think that is an admirable goal, I think that years of practice on “the floor” go a long way……experience is one of the best teachers when it comes to nursing.
      Pay in nursing varies greatly from one geographical area to another.  Where I live in the midwest, while nursing is an decent wage, (I make about 56k/yr after 20yrs) it is certainly not a very high paying job…..which is one reason I never went on to get my bachelor’s–no increase in pay for doing the same job.

      • devans

        Yep, I can agree with you, very sensible.

  • RenJennM

    Too bad I have absolutely no talent or interest in any of these careers -___-

  •  Līfe ī$ lōńely āńd $ōmeτīme$ eveń bōrīńɡ.I ωāńńā $hāre āń excīτīńɡ plāce______meetāfflūeńt.cōm______īτ’$ τhe lārɡe$τ āńd be$τ clūb fōr ωeālτhy peōple āńd τheīr ādmāīrer$ ωhō āre $eekīńɡ lōńɡ lā$τ āńd eńdūrīńɡ relāτīōń$hīp$…yōū dōń’τ hāve τō be rīch τhere,būτ yōū cāń meeτ ōńe.If yōū dōń’τ mīńd,Pleā$e check īτ ōūτ,I’m $erīōū$.

  • Faecoast

    In Florida you are Not Required to have a 4 year degree for a Nursing job. U can have a A.A. Hospitals are still hiring people with out four year degrees.

    • tif123

      I live in Florida and from my understanding the hospitals are phasing out LPN’s in favor of RN’s. This comes from the many LPN’s I go to school with who are back to get their RN. Also smoaking is being eliminatedad an option for anyone who wishes to be in the nursing field as new employees, I was told but not verified that current employees me be grandfathered in?

      • Vic

        That is true. Florida hospital do not hire LPN’s. I just graduated with my BSN and in the hiring processing I was tested for nicotine. I was told if my results came back positive for smoking I would not be hired! LuckIy i do not smoke, so that was not a problem for me. This is a new policy to be nicotine free for all new hires in Florida hospitals!

  • Dfta

    There are no jobs in PA for Rn’s all hospitals require BSN. This is false

  • OneOfAKind

    Great list! I’m actually a Dental Hygiene student. I’ll be graduating next May.

    • Guest

      My cousin is a DH and makes 75k/yr. Best of luck to you.


        Thank you!

    • GalaxyEmpress

      Congratulations!!! Best wishes to you and your new career…. 😉

      • OneOfAKind

        Thank you so much! 🙂

    • angie

      Good Luck…you are gonna need it. They have pushed this profession so hard that there are now soooo many hygienists it’s difficult to find a job. (in MANY states) The schools push this profession because they make money and now they are just driving wages down. I am ashamed and embarrassed to now be in this field due to the unethical practices that go on just to get money from the patients. I am a dental hygienist and i have worked in so many offices that push unnecessary procedures, x-rays and exams onto the patients because they don’t know any better. It’s sad!

  • Wondering?

    Can working as a Radiation Therapist compromise your health? Madonna said this job was responsible for her mother’s cancer.

    • Guest

      Any job that involves radiation raises your risk of getting irradiated, even with protection.   Pharmacists who mix chemotherapy drugs have an abnormally high rate of cancers and it is believed that handling toxic chemo drugs everyday causes this.  Good thing you are thinking about this. 

  • MarioMierda

    They keep saying nurse but you need to take a bunch of college courses beforehand so it takes more then 2 years

  • Do you think the better salary and benefits on the west coast could have anything to do with a nursing shortage? I have not heard anything concrete but I do know of a family member who goes to California twice a month for traveling nursing and makes quite a bit.

  • Claire

    In NY state you cannot get a job in a hospital with only a 2year RN degree.

    • Lisa20cau

      Many hospitals are moving to hiring only nurses with a Bachelor’s degree for many reasons. Two primary reasons are that for magnet credentialing purposes, which is a accreditation honoring healthcare entities that provide quality patient care, mandates that if hospitals want to apply for this honor, they can only hire nurses with a BSN. Second, research has shown that 4-year nurses produce better quality outcomes than the 2-yr programs. The comment above that mentioned 2-yr nurses make the same as a 4-yr nurse may be true but when it comes to advancing and moving up the career ladder, the 2-yr nurse places a limit in their mobility as far as being able to advance in their career. I am an advanced practice nurse and the to be honest, nursing is a very hard job, both physically & sometimes mentally so the older you become, the greater the likelihood that you will probably not want to be working at the bedside taking care of patients. That’s what these articles do not tell people who are looking to move into nursing.

      • Casey1272

        I think it has more to do with the war against women trying to make it harder for women who earn  more money than a man

      • devans

        Also, as a Practical, speaking with alot of experience, which is something neither A.A. nor B.S.A.’s have very little. R.N.’s will almost always pass off the more undesirable work to the Practical Nurse or Aide. The very best nurses were our three year nurses. They even exited the sence because of the ” BSN”, coming in and taking over as they changed nursing for the worst. Experience is everything, and Compassion the very most important.

      • Anna

        I’m a nurse and we have heard for years that you’ll need a Bachelor’s degree. There is such a shortage of nurses they couldn’t possible have just people with Bachelor’s degrees.

  • Rdr

    Registered nurses and aerospace engineers and technicians need 4 yr. degrees or more and they both earn more than this article claims. I suspect a good number of the jobs on this list also need more education than this article describes. If you live on either coast the pay scales listed here will not pay the rent.

    • RN(real nurse)

      Registered nurses only require an associates degree. I started with an associates and now  have a masters. With 22 years experience and varied work experience across the US, I can say my education does very little to increase my income. Advanced education is required  only for specific jobs such as management,teaching ect. I make the same as a 2 yr. degree nurse with the same yrs. of experience. Salary base 100k+ on the west coast , employed as a staff nurse in a hospital,critical care(ICU).

      • Redland Girl

        Two year degree nurses? What? Is this because of the state you’re from? I have never heard anything like this. In my state you have to have a four year degree — masters preferred.

    • Georgia

      My grandmother’s sister was a RN and she didn’t even go to high school. So no you don’t need education. All they require is experience. 

      • Neecy224

        As a RN myself, I find this comment very offensive. Registered nurses are health care PROFESSIONALS and to insinuate that anything other than a sound educational background, combined with clinical experience, is necessary to become one is irresponsible.

        • Jacquelinedknapp

          I agree with NEECY224. My sister is also a registered nurse & has been for over 10 years. She worked very hard to graduate from nursing school! It not a “stumble upon job”. She has had do the job of the doctors when they couldn’t make it in time. RN’s are educated

          • devans

            Most all of the Doctors work is done by any one but the Doctor.

          • tif123

            No true, she would have been an LPN not an RN

            • tif123

              I an sorry this was ment to relpy to Marjoriechristman

        • devans

          Your nurses aides are the ones with the most experience and They get very little respect.

          • krisi

            nurses aides have nurse’s aide experience..which happens to, unfortunately, most of the daily hands on work that needs to be done…if they want different jobs, they should go back to school..otherwise, they ought to understand that RNs have other duties and responsibilities, as do LPNs. In my experience, many NAs and CNAs are often very bitter and I have seen many take this out on their patients…which is entirely unacceptable!

        • A professional who gets offended by information about what happened a hundred years ago that causes someone to draw an erroneous conclusion must not have much faith in their standing.

      • Marjoriechristman

         Georgia yoou are mistaken. A registered nurse requires not only nursing school with a degree, but must pass state board exams which are NOT easy. You cannot enter a nursing program without a high school diploma and at least a C average amd then     m
        taking final exams after finishing and THEN taking and passing state board exam. Grannys sister was NOT an RN and it sounds like she wasnt even a qualified aide.


        • mrscortes09

          U can enter a nursing program with just a GED. I recieved mine when i was 17, went and applied for a rn program at my local community college, took an entrance exam and passed it with the required scores. Started the program and was done in 18months… and was given an associates in science and nursing. I then sat for my nclex and passed it. And have ben an RN for three years now. So no u do not have to have a high school diploma. I also make 28 and hour… and 42 over time pay and hour. I livein texas and work in roundrock tx.

      • Jacquelinedknapp

        This is not the case these days. You must have a degree to become an RN

      • Casey1272

        that was probably 50 years ago

      • Rubyjuly

         This comment is so stupid it almost doesn’t require comment except for the fact that it might mislead some young people.  My mother graduated from high school in 1923 and she still had to go to nursing school to become a registered nurse.  Today a way to enter into the field if you are not sure would be to become a Certified Nurse Assistant.  That training only takes a few weeks, otherwise you are looking at a minimum commitment of two years or more.

        • I am sure that different states had different requirements then as now. I am not sure why people are all excited about one post. How many kids in HS do you suppose at basing their edu decisions on this article?

      • tif123

        This was once true but no longer. Rules and regulations have morphed over the years. Once upon a time you could get on the job training in a hospital to gain licenceur and you could go to a techinical school for nursing as my mother did. I am currently finializing my AA to enter a nursing program and it is not easy. You have to want this so bad that you put your life on hold for 4-5 years to get your BSN. You have to be the best of the best academically as the programs are extremely limited in who and how many students they accept. Another option is to pay a private college like Kiser University but you pay through the nose and a AA is not required to enter the program and attain liscencure if you pass the board. The truth is that you can not obtain a RN in two years, the techinical course itself is at least two years plus prerequisites.
        As for Neecy24 you should not be offended as it is apparent from your comment that you too are unaware of the history of nursing.

      • Guest

        Are you stupid? I think so, that was probably 50 to 60 years ago, nursing requirements have changed a lot since the 1930’s and 40’s

      • KRISI

        Seriously? I hope no one really believes this! The reality is that in order to become a Registered Nurse, you must complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program-AND most ADN programs are 3 year programs, btwn 70-90 credits (most AD programs are 60, bachelor’s are 120). Once you graduate, you must pass state boards before you go from a ‘Graduate Nurse’ to a ‘Registered Nurse’.
        Having a BS in psych as well, I can honestly say that the ADN degree program, as well as the state boards, were by far the hardest thing I ever accomplished in my life.
        Often people claim to be a ‘nurse’..when, in reality, the are nurse assistants, or even certified nurse assistants (CNAs)..CNA courses generally take 4-6 weeks, and require little more than a GED—BIG DIFFERENCE from an RN, or even an LPN (usually a one year training, but no degree-but they still have to pass boards after program completion to become ‘Licensed’, and it is still a difficult accomplishment).
        The term ‘Registered’ or ‘Licensed’ should, for anyone with any intelligence or common sense IMPLY that the person is a LICENSED PROFESSIONAL!! HOW DO YOU THINK THEY OBTAINED LICENSURE????
        I sure hope you never say this in the presence of any RNs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Dawn

        This comment sounds ridiculos. App arently the lack of education in your family is common.

      • Redland Girl

        What? You don’t need an education to become a nurse? How old was your grandmother’s sister? What country did she live in? I do not know that some of you know what you are talking about. In my state registered nurses have to have a four year degree– masters degree preferred. Are you sure that it is RN’s that you’re speaking about?

  • gina r

    Good posting Miss Markeita, RN. Please check your local Office of the Professions or State Boards for specific requirements for your state. Most communities colleges have 2 year Associates degrees. I know lots who got their RN's that way. My tip: get a SPECIALIZED degree in whatever field of your choice, Nursing, Engineering, Technology, Finance, Legal. A generic Bachelor's in Business will get you a Customer Service Job, that's about it.

  • gina r

    Good posting Miss Markeita, RN. Please check your local Office of the Professions or State Boards for specific requirements for your state. Most communities colleges have 2 year Associates degrees. I know lots who got their RN's that way. My tip: get a SPECIALIZED degree in whatever field of your choice, Nursing, Engineering, Technology, Finance, Legal. A generic Bachelor's in Business will get you a Customer Service Job, that's about it.
    2yr RN's can make $150K, LPNs $80-$90K, with lots of OT in NEW YORK. But it's hard work, sh*tty hours!!! Do your Homework.

  • Miss Markeita- RN

    Alot of people are posting incorrect information. RN is just that, a registered nurse. You can become a RN through a variety of diffrent mehods. A RN with an associates degree is not limited in capacity to the duties that they can take on. The diffrence is not even shown in pay scale. An ASN (associate degree in nursing) can and will preform the same job requirements as a nurse with there BSN-(bachelors degree in nursing) . The true diffrences are established in mangement. Most management positions will require you to have your BSN. The truth is even if you go for ASN, you should plan to continue to at least BSN. Most colleges are doing away with there ASN programs and allowing community colleges to be the only alternative for this degree. An associates degree is a good start, but most places are pushing to either hire only BSN's, or have all the current in house nurses go back to get there bachelor's.

  • TX Nurse

    FYI Your Criminal record MUST be clean, No Felonies to work in medical field.

  • Alexis

    I am sorry, it is actually number ten that is very hard to break into–aerospace engineering and technical work. My mistake.

  • Alexis

    Regarding being a registered nurse, if you click on the link, you will see that the term registered nurse has different legal meanings in different contexts. So in some instances, it only requires a two-year degree. Please research more about it. This kind of RN will have different duties than a nurse with a two year degree. Thanks.

  • Sonya

    Many of these jobs require exposing yourself to radiation regularly.

    I think I'd be better off going back to school to see if I can make more money WITHOUT knocking years off of my life by putting myself in high risk situations.

  • Veus

    Most of these are wrong.besides that most places wont even hire people with a two year degree.. Hell those with four year degrees are having trouble

  • Kitty

    To be a RN takes longer than some two years. Try 3 or 4!

  • GObacktoschool

    THis is exactly why i went back to school… So many other races have degrees and they get picked for the jobs… I didnt have a degree because i just wasnt interested in going to college… But once u get a reality check u realize that u need that education so i went back to school to become a nurse and im almost done.. Its a pain in the butt butits worth it

  • miss g

    Last time I checked atleast for the state of California you need a 4 yr degree to be a registered nurse. A two year degree will earn you a LVN license which is far different from an RN especially in pay.

    • RN in SC

      Actually, u only need an associate's degree to become an RN; though it usually takes a little longer than 2 yrs because the curriculum is so challenging. An LVN/LPN license requires a 1 yr diploma program. RNs with an associate's degree usually have the same responsibilities as a RN with a bachelor's. The only difference is that in most cases (not all) a bachelor's degree is preferred for management and leadership positions. Also there is only about a $1/hr difference in pay. At least thats how it is here in SC, it may be different elsewhere.