Many high school graduates flock to four-year universities. But those schools aren't for everyone. Some students can't fund the degree, others' interests lie in specialty fields not covered at the average four-year school, and some students are just plain sick of school.
For students who want to avoid forking over four years of tuition, consider aiming for an associate's degree instead of a bachelor's. Earn a full salary for half the price, in half the time by pursuing one of the following highest paying jobs that you can get with a two-year degree:
10. Funeral Director: If you're sensitive, with an interest in different cultural and religious customs, consider a career as a funeral director. The job calls for excellent people relations and event planning skills. The idea of dealing with death on a daily basis doesn't appeal to everyone, but often times, funeral directors find helping the deceased's loved ones an emotionally moving profession.
Average salary: $46,900
9. Court Reporter: Law and Order junkies rejoice! Perfect your shorthand in order to transcribe legal proceedings. Also consider revisiting childhood favorite, Mavis Beacon, to up your typing speed. A degree and experience in court reporting often paves the way for jobs in typing captions for television shows and government transcription.
Average salary: $49,700
8. Dental Hygienist: If you've always been dazed by dazzling smiles, a position as a dental hygienist may pique your interest. Clean and X-ray, keep an eye out for problem choppers and help prep for dentists. While some stick with one office, other tooth specialists bounce around, allowing them the bonus of scheduling their own hours.
Average salary: $57,100
7. Commercial Pilot: Head to flight school and receive a degree in the science of soaring. It takes a sense of awareness and commitment to fly both passengers and cargo. Pilots must also possess quick reflexes and the ability to remain calm and collected in trying situations. A natural sense of direction won't hurt either. Be prepared to learn about both mechanical science and weather. Keep in mind that, while flying celebrities brings in a chunk of dough, overall, commercial airlines usually pay higher than private companies.
Average salary: $57,500
6. Nuclear Medicine Technologist: Treat illness and track healing progress as a nuclear medicine technologist. These specialists work closely with radioactive energy sources, such as x-rays. A keen interest in science and anatomy is a must.
Average salary: $66,300
5. Nurse: Nursing qualifies as rewarding job in the business of healing. Highly energetic and motivated people succeed as nurses because the hours are usually rough, especially in the beginning. If you're planning on entering this field with a two-year degree, prepare yourself for some steep competition against applicants with bachelor's of science degrees in nursing.
Average salary: $68,200
4. Computer Specialist: For those fascinated by new technology, with high multi-tasking skills, explore a degree in computer science. Communication skills also assist computer specialists because many assignments involve teamwork. Remember that almost every company needs some form of a computer specialist so you may even have the luxury of applying to companies in areas that particularly interest you. Either pursue a permanent job with one company, or hop around to different clients through freelance work.
Average salary: $68,600
3. Radiation Therapist: Use your degree to change people's lives. Help patients through chemotherapy with the most advanced cancer treatments. This field takes a positive attitude and a knack for numbers, but also offers a quick in to the world of medicine, an area that can take years of schooling to enter.
Average salary: $72,900
2. Management Analyst: These workers have a natural sense for business and a craving for cash. Management analysts assist companies in planning productivity and efficiency. The analysts' goal is always aimed toward a higher profit. In order to succeed, you should enjoy analyzing numbers and charts and problem solving. After graduating with an associate's degree, be sure to gain experience in business, marketing or management before applying for a position as a management analyst. Experience helps level the playing field against those with four-year degrees.
Average salary: $73,400
1. Computer Hardware Engineer: In our technologically advanced era, computers are a must-have. Research and create computer systems and accessories such as printers and routers. Those who provide society with these magnificent machines are reimbursed generously. In order to enter this high-paying field without a four-year degree, try to gain as much experience as possible through both internships and other jobs before applying for a career as a computer hardware engineer.
Average salary: $97,600
Fast cash: 10 high-paying jobs with two-year degrees