26 High-Paying Jobs That You Can Get With An Associate's Degree

cockpit detail. cockpit of a...
ShutterstockAvionics technicians: high median salary, no bachelor's degree required.
By Jacquelyn Smith

Don't have the time or money to get a bachelor's degree? It turns out that plenty of two-year associate's degrees have a high return on investment.

According to the latest data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the 26 highest-paying jobs that require only an associate's degree. Each has a median annual salary of at least $50,000.

This is an update of a story originally written by Vivian Giang.

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26 High-Paying Jobs That You Can Get With An Associate's Degree
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26 High-Paying Jobs That You Can Get With An Associate's Degree

Median annual wage (2012): $50,360

Projected job openings (through 2022): 8,900

Work experience: None

Description: Prepare detailed working diagrams of machinery and mechanical devices, including dimensions, fastening methods, and other engineering information.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a mechanical drafter

Median annual wage (2012): $50,980

Projected job openings (through 2022): 14,100

Work experience: None

Description: Help industrial engineers implement designs to use personnel, materials, and machines in factories, stores, healthcare organizations, repair shops, and offices. 

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as an industrial engineer technician

Median annual wage (2012): $51,820

Projected job openings (through 2022): 4,300

Work experience: None

Description: Install, troubleshoot, repair, and upgrade electronic and computer-controlled mechanical systems, like robotic assembly machines.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as an electromechanical technician

Median annual wage (2012): $51,980

Projected job openings (through 2022): 12,100

Work experience: None

Description: Design, develop, test, and manufacture industrial machinery, consumer products, and other equipment.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a mechanical engineering technician

Median annual wage (2012): $52,070

Projected job openings (through 2022): 23,000

Work experience: None

Description: Use imaging technology to help physicians diagnose cardiac (heart) and peripheral vascular (blood vessel) ailments in patients. 

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a cardiovascular technologist

Median annual wage (2012): $52,160

Projected job openings (through 2022): 45,100

Work experience: None

Description: Help patients who are recovering from injuries, illnesses, and surgeries regain movement and manage pain.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a physical therapy assistant

Median annual wage (2012): $52,700

Projected job openings (through 2022): 8,100

Work experience: None

Description: Provide support to scientists and engineers in exploring and extracting natural resources, like minerals, oil, and natural gas.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a geological technician

Median annual wage (2012): $53,240

Projected job openings (through 2022): 20,500

Work experience: None

Description: Aides work under the direction of occupational therapists in treating patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as an occupational therapy assistant

Median annual wage (2012): $54,620

Projected job openings (through 2022): 69,600

Work experience: None

Description: Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic imaging examinations, like X-rays, on patients.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a radiologic technologist

Median annual wage (2012): $55,350

Projected job openings (through 2022): 4,000

Work experience: None

Description: Install, inspect, test, adjust, or repair avionics equipment, like radar, radio, navigation, and missile-control systems in aircraft or space vehicles.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as an avionics technician

Median annual wage (2012): $55,700

Projected job openings (through 2022): 6,800

Work experience: None

Description: Prepare wiring diagrams, circuit board assembly diagrams, and layout drawings used for the manufacture, installation, or repair of electrical equipment.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as an electrical drafter

Median annual wage (2012): $55,870

Projected job openings (through 2022): 40,100

Work experience: None

Description: Care for patients who have trouble breathing (i.e. premature infants with undeveloped lungs; elderly patients who have diseased lungs). They also provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a respiratory therapist

Median annual wage (2012): $57,850

Projected job openings (through 2022): 30,400

Work experience: None

Description: Help engineers design and develop computers, communications equipment, medical monitoring devices, navigational equipment, and other electrical and electronic equipment.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as an electrical engineering technician

Median annual wage (2012): $59,090

Projected job openings (through 2022): 39,600

Work experience: None

Description: Analyze, test, troubleshoot, and evaluate existing network systems, like local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), and internet systems, or a segment of a network system.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a computer network support specialist

Median annual wage (2012): $59,440

Projected job openings (through 2022): 14,600

Work experience: None

Description: Solve technical problems. Some help engineers and scientists do research and development.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as an engineering technician

Median annual wage (2012): $61,530

Projected job openings (through 2022): 2,100

Work experience: None

Description: Aerospace engineering and operations technicians operate and maintain equipment used in developing, testing, and producing new aircraft and spacecraft.

On-the-job training: None

> Find a job as an aerospace engineering technician

Median annual wage (2012): $62,500

Projected job openings (through 2022): 50,700

Work experience: None

Description: Design, create, and modify websites.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a web developer

Median annual wage (2012): $65,360

Projected job openings (through 2022): 11,300

Work experience: Less than five years

Description: Monitor patient safety and comfort and view images of area being scanned to ensure quality of pictures.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a magnetic resonance imaging technologist

Median annual wage (2012): $65,470

Projected job openings (through 2022): 1,052,600

Work experience: None

Description: Provide and coordinate patient care; educate patients and the public about various health conditions.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a registered nurse

Median annual wage (2012): $65,860

Projected job openings (through 2022): 35,300

Work experience: None

Description: Use special imaging equipment that directs sound waves into a patient’s body to assess and diagnose various medical conditions.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a diagnostic medical sonographer

Median annual wage (2012): $66,720

Projected job openings (through 2022): 3,200

Work experience: Less than five years

Description: Plan, direct, or coordinate the services or resources of funeral homes. 

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a funeral service director

Median annual wage (2012): $69,069

Projected job openings (through 2022): 4,100

Work experience: None

Description: Nuclear technicians assist physicists, engineers, and other professionals in nuclear research and nuclear production.

On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a nuclear technician

Median annual wage (2012): $70,180

Projected job openings (through 2022): 7,200

Work experience: None

Description: Use a scanner to create images of various areas of a patient’s body. They prepare radioactive drugs and administer them to patients undergoing the scans.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a nuclear medicine technologist

Median annual wage (2012): $70,210

Projected job openings (through 2022): 113,500

Work experience: None

Description: Clean teeth, examine patients for oral diseases like gingivitis, and provide other preventative dental care.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a dental hygienist

Median annual wage (2012): $77,560

Projected job openings (through 2022): 8,400

Work experience: None

Description: Check equipment, observe patients reactions to treatment, and document the session.

On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as a radiation therapist

Median annual wage (2012): $122,530

Projected job openings (through 2022): 11,400

Work experience: None

Description: Monitor and direct the movement of aircraft. Median annual wages of air traffic controllers are the highest of any occupation in which workers typically do not need a bachelor's degree.

On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

> Find a job as an air traffic controller

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