Not every higher-paying job requires a four-year degree. Vocational schools offer associate degrees, certificate and apprenticeship programs to get you working in two years or less. According to Vocational Careers 2013, top-paying vocational jobs available now and up to a decade in the future include licensed practical nurses, medical and dental assistants, pharmacy techs, paralegals, graphic designers and massage therapists. All those vocations have excellent job growth potential and benefit packages.
Medical and Dental Assistants
Medical assistants work in healthcare facilities, earning a median pay of just under $29,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dental assistants assist dentists with patient care and record keeping, earning about $3 more per hour than a medical assistant, for a median pay between $33,000 and $34,000 annually. Both have excellent 10-year job outlooks with growth rates much faster than average, at 31 percent growth. Both also have varying career paths through vocational and on-the-job training. High school diplomas or equivalent are required. Wages for experienced medical and dental assistants can top $39,000 to around $47,000 per year.
Paralegals work in all types of occupations from law firms to government agencies supporting lawyers and attorneys, drafting legal documents and performing legal research. The 10-year future outlook varies, ranging from 18 percent average growth cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to 28 percent cited by Vocational Reviews Top 10 Vocational Careers. Both ascertain that the median salary is just less than $47,000 per year. Experienced paralegals can expect up to near $76,000 as top-tier annual wage.
Pharmacy technicians require only a high school diploma and moderate on-the-job training before aiding licensed pharmacists with dispensing prescription medication. The National Healthcare Association lists those states requiring pharmacy techs to undergo formal training and an exam. The growth outlook is expected to be faster than average at 32 percent or more than 108,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median wage hovers just under $29,000 and highest wage projections top out around $40,000.
Graphic designers' 10-year outlook may not top 13 percent, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Vocational Reviews Top 10 Vocational Careers cite the median wage as more than $45,000 and the latter decries a top wage as more than $76,000 for experienced designers, ranking it number seven in their top 10 list of vocational jobs. Graphic designers use computer software or work by hand to create visual ideas and identities for individuals and businesses. A bachelor's degree is often required for top jobs, but you can get your foot in the door or start your own business with vocational training.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical Assistants
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Dental Assistants
- Top Ten Reviews: Vocational Careers 2013
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Pharmacy Technicians
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Graphic Designers
- National Healthcareer Association: Pharmacy Technician Certification Requirements by State
Cheryl Hosmer teaches online courses in writing and community journalism. She has written for various newspapers since 1983. She teamed up with author Marshall Terrill in 2001 as an editor of celebrity biographies. Hosmer holds a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies from Madonna University. Her educational emphasis was poverty studies and journalism.