With student debt reaching an all-time high, many people are interested in exploring alternative options that will save them money and help them land a good career. You may also be someone considering a career change but don’t want to return to school for an additional four years. The good news is that you’re in luck! While having at least a bachelor’s degree does increase your job opportunities in the long run, there are plenty of two-year programs with associate’s degree and certification programs that can help you start a highly profitable, fulfilling career. All career information is based off data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Dental Hygienist: $74,820 per year
With an associate’s degree, you can work as a dental hygienist and earn a decent living even working part-time. Dental hygienists perform cleanings and provide other forms of preventative dental care. Oral health education is also a big part of the job, so a friendly personality and good communication skills are a must.
Paralegal or Legal Assistant: $50,940 per year
Paralegals and legal assistants work in law offices assisting attorneys with day-to-day operations. Some of their job duties include preparing legal documents, organizing paperwork, record-keeping and conducting legal research.
A paralegal or legal assistant must have at least an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, but some law firms may hire an individual who holds a different degree and give them on-the-job training. There are also many legal assistant internship opportunities that can be a good way to build valuable career experience.
Tax Preparer: $47,090 per year
Going to accounting school can help you become a qualified tax preparer. You may also be able to work as an accounting associate or professional bookkeeper. Certificates in accounting can help you get a foot in the door by qualifying you for entry-level bookkeeping and assistant positions.
Tax preparers are responsible for helping individuals and businesses keep financial records and apply all the appropriate deductions and credits to a tax return to ensure the highest possible return.
Web Developer: $69,430 per year
Tech-based jobs are some of the fastest-growing in America, and a web developer can earn a six-figure salary without any formal education. However, as the market becomes more saturated with eager, self-taught applicants, employers are beginning to pay close attention to those who have an educational background in development.
Web developers program websites and mobile applications and can work in a wide range of fields including health, education and entertainment. Depending on your particular interests, you should be able to find a position as a web developer that revolves around creating dynamic and responsive websites for industries you are passionate about.
Take some time to explore your interests before you set any professional ambitions. Money is only one part of a career satisfaction; since you’ll be dedicating the majority of your life to your profession, it’s important to explore your interests and passions to make sure that you enter a field you are truly committed to. In your search you may want to consider any of these two-year programs.