The evolution of higher education over the past seventy years proves one thing: the best education path–in terms of value and efficiency–is in a state of constant flux. From the fifties to the early nineties, the four year college degree reigned as the undisputed king of jumpstarting careers while affordably and effectively unlocking top-tier salaries. 

Today though, the abundance of various education paths on offer shifts the value away from the traditional four year path and in the direction of its alternatives. Millennials and Generation Z are more likely to have side hustles and entrepreneurial pursuits in addition to, or even replacing, the more traditional and linear career paths that were the norm of their predecessors. Time is money after all, and in 2020 everything moves fast–and it is becoming more common for the younger generation to decide against a four-year commitment in favor of managing multiple tangential career paths at once. 

Gen X’ers are jumping on board, too. Stay-at-home moms are starting Shopify and Etsy businesses and dads are adopting side hustles to boost the income of their day jobs. With all this in mind, the key to building a lucrative career seems to be adaptability. The most successful entry level  professionals are able to jump on specific skill development to capitalize on emerging needs of the market. An associates degree represents one of the best options available to build skills quickly and affordably.

To do this one needs to be able to move and adapt quickly and an associate’s degree is often ideal for building skills and knowledge efficiently. Should one wish to build multiple unrelated skill sets, it is also much more reasonable to consider earning multiple associate’s degrees, as compared to earning multiple four-year degrees. Similarly, the risk of financial waste is much less with an associate’s degree which is often several times less expensive than a traditional bachelor’s.

While college still provides a strong base for any aspiring professionals, an associate’s degree might get you the same results–but more efficiently and affordably. ‘How much can you earn with an associate’s degree?’, you might ask. In this resource we will cover the best and most lucrative careers available to a professional with an associate’s degree, as well as some takeaways for making the most of it.

We organized this ranking according to the following methodology:

  • They then filtered results for salaries of $45,000 or above. 
  • Results were further filtered by removing careers with poor trajectories of job growth and stability. 
  • These results were then organized into a ranking according to both the occupation’s median salary as well as higher-end salary potential. 

50 of the Highest Paying Associate Degree Careers

Before we dive into the ranking, there are some clear takeaways to note: 

Firstly, many of the most lucrative careers listed in this resource require a high level of specialization that might not require a college education, but usually do require a process of skill-development or education–usually through apprenticeships, trade schools, or the associate’s degree program itself. 

Secondly, many of these high-end careers offer top notch salaries because the accompanying skill requirement is so high. So while the purpose of this resource is to help professionals in prospecting the most affordable and efficient entry-point into their desired career, it should be noted that additional schooling and/or work experience might be (or might not be) the best option for unlocking the listed or upper-percentile salaries of the field–because ultimately these outcomes are dependent on one’s skill, experience, and one’s ability to sell themselves. 

Air Traffic Controller 

Required Degree – Associate of Air Traffic Control

Median Salary – $124,000

Career Description

Air traffic controllers take home some of the most impressive salaries you will see for a career that does not require a bachelor’s degree. Their high end salaries however, are indicative of the high level of responsibility required of air traffic controllers. These aviation professionals are the quarterbacks of the skies. They direct landing and taking-off procedures for all manner of aircraft, as well as monitor all in-progress flights. If you have ever wondered how thousands of planes could all take-off, fly thousands of miles, and land without crashing into one another, these professionals are to thank. 

Career Requirements 

An acceptable entry point into this career is any degree accredited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Thankfully an array of institutions offer fully FFA-accredited programs that can be completed for less than $20,000. This is still a fairly large expense when compared to other associate’s degree programs, but the expense is balanced by the inordinately high salaries professionals can earn upon graduating. Should students want to pursue leadership roles in the industry after graduation, they will need to consider higher level education instead, however professionals with associate’s degrees can land these promotions after building a successful work history.

Computer Scientist – Full-Stack Engineer

Required Degree – Associate of Computer Science; Computer Engineering

Median Salary – $120,000

Career Description

If you are even somewhat familiar with the field of computer science, then you have probably heard the terms ‘front-end’ and ‘back-end’ development. A full-stack computer science professional however, is one who has mastered both sides of development. They employ a hybrid approach in order to develop both components simultaneously where possible. The level of skill and knowledge required to pull this off is sizable, but is rewarded by some of the industry’s best starting salaries, as well as some jaw-dropping salary potential for established professionals ($200k+). 

Career Requirements

There are few degree programs that specialize in full-stack computer science, because it encompases the knowledge and skills of separate approaches and principles and requires a level of natural aptitude. Prospects of this career can earn the necessary schooling in an associate’s degree program of computer science that specializes in computer engineering. In addition to this schooling however, aspirants of this position will likely need to temper their education with a coding bootcamp or apprenticeship that specifically targets full-stack engineering. 

Transportation Manager

Required Degree – Associate of Transportation Management 

Median Salary – $92,000

Career Description

Transportation managers employ a variety of skills and software to help direct all forms of transportation in order to maintain supply lines of large corporations and logistics operations. There are various levels of employment in this line of work, however earning a relevant degree will open the doors to landing a management position with strong earning potential. These impressive salaries act as a balanced compensation for the highly specialized knowledge required to excel in this work, that is, knowledge of a company’s unique transportation management system software and boots-on-the-ground protocols in combination with strong communication and leadership skills.

Career Requirements

Professionals can break into this career with an associate’ degree in transportation management. Upper-end salaries are earned through building a sub-specialization, which can start in some of the better associate’s programs. These specializations allow students to build expertise in areas of the market such as warehousing or supply-chain technology, which in-turn gives them a major leg upon entering the job market. Top-end salaries are reached when a professional has not only built a specialization but also demonstrated a successful tenure in the field. 

Logistics Manager

Required Degree – Associate of Logistics Management

Median Salary – $92,000

Career Description

A logistic manager works in-tandem with transportation management, to organize schedules and to ensure requirements are met in order to keep national and even international operations running smoothly. These professionals are detail oriented masters of efficiency, and are effective at leading teams to meet daily goals. In this sense, logistics management is as much about directing teams of professionals and freight crews as it is directing the logistics of the larger operation. In many cases a logistics manager will only differ from a transportation manager in the emphasis the position places on transportation software–with the former focusing more on the logistics of boots-on-the-ground operations and the latter being more concerned with software mastery.

Career Requirements

An associate’s degree in logistics management will function as an excellent foundation for breaking into this field. The highly competitive nature of this field however, might mean that professionals need to build a resume in a related field before landing the management position. Professionals should look to build experience in the acquisition, storage, and distribution of goods in order to build the required experience for management positions.

Radiation Therapist

Required Salary – Associate of Radiation Therapy

Median Salary – $82,000

Career Description

Unfortunately, cancer and its treatment makes up a large portion of the medical industry. Radiation therapists are professionals who specialize in cancer treatment protocols and relevant technology. Their daily responsibilities include assisting radiologists, oncologists, and physicians in the treatment of patients, specifically by helping to identify tumors in the patient’s body and by administering various forms of therapy. The impressive salaries that come with this career are earned by beating out the extensive competition for the best jobs. Because there is a limited demand for these professionals in smaller or more remote areas, it can be difficult to land the job you want in the area you want–a barrier that is compensated for by the tremendous earning potential on offer.

Career Requirements

There are two main inroads into radiation therapy, a professional certification in radiation therapy, and an associate’s degree. The first is the most efficient and usually only requires one year to complete, but will likely only open doors to the more entry-level positions. An associate’s degree in radiation therapy will take two years to complete, but will prepare students to take on mid-level positions upon graduating. Once professionals have built seniority in their field, they will be able to take on radiation therapy positions with higher responsibility and management requirements, which in-turn offer highly impressive earning potential.  

Nuclear Engineering Technologist

Required Degree –  Associate of Nuclear Engineering Technology

Median Salary – $80,000

Career Description

When considering the best career choices for an associate’s degree, nuclear engineering probably doesn’t come to mind. But because so much of the field is shifting their work over to computer applications, one can break into the field by learning these applications. These professionals often take positions at power plants and monitor daily activity with various types of computer software. Mid to upper level positions will entail more extensive work to research and even design new power plant safety, efficiency, and waste management protocols. 

Career Requirements

While the day to day mechanics of this profession reside more in the successful navigation of highly specialized computer applications, professionals will need a solid base of knowledge in nuclear engineering. To land entry-level positions in this field, sufficient schooling can be earned through a 2 year associate’s degree program in nuclear engineering technology. Mid to upper level positions however, will require a bachelor’s or master’s degree with the upper reaches of the field being overseen by professionals with doctorates in nuclear engineering. Though the impending job growth within this market will create new positions which value work history or management skills as well, allowing for professionals with associate’s degrees to compensate for a lack of advanced education with demonstrated professional success over time. 

Mortuary Scientist  

Required Degree – Associate of Mortuary Science

Median Salary – $79,180

Career Description

Mortuary science deals with the posthumous handling of human bodies, usually through funerary services. Mortuary scientists work in a variety of roles in order to repair damaged bodies for presentation during the funeral, console families, and direct daily operations at funeral homes. The impressive salary that comes along with this work is indicative of the unique demands of this type of work. Similarly, the skills required are highly specialized and creates the main barrier to entry.

Career Requirements

A professional can become a successful mortuary scientist with an associate’s degree of mortuary science that can typically be finished in just two years. These programs require an aptitude for both the social and medical sciences, and upper end salaries are usually reserved for professionals who take on a management role in addition to typical responsibilities. Management roles will be competitive as there are a limited number of funeral homes, and as such these positions are reserved for those with either seniority, high levels of talent, or those with an impressive resume. 

Elevator Installer 

Required Degree –  Associate of Elevator Mechanics

Median Salary – $79,000

Career Description

Ever wonder what goes into installing and maintaining those amazing elevators that are able to scale 50 floors in a minute? Elevator mechanics who specialize in the installation process are able to bring home the big bucks. Entry level professionals usually take on positions beneath a managing mechanic and employ the most current technology in order to build the necessary elevator tracks, lifts, and electrical systems. The best companies will send these professionals around the world to install various types of elevators. But given the limited demand for the best elevators and the high competition for the best contracts, individuals will need to prove themselves professionally.

Career Requirements

Prospective professionals can learn the required skill set with either an apprenticeship in elevator installation or a professional certification as an elevator mechanics technician. The best positions however, will require more of a background in the field, which can be built through an associate in mechanics with a specialization in elevator technology. More than many other fields, professionals are able to distinguish themselves for this kind of work through a variety of methods and approaches. 

Electrical Repair for Powerhouse, Substation, Relay 

Required Degree – Associate of Industrial Technology, Electrical

Median Salary – $78,000

Career Description

Ever wonder who maintains all the complex electrical systems behind power lines or  subway stations? Line technicians are the specialized professionals who make sure the daily operations of such technology runs smoothly. And in the case of a faulty component, they are sent out to repair it. These professionals scale heights to repair high off the ground power lines, or climb down deep into subground railway units to replace failing parts. The best salaries are awarded to professionals who specialize in one type of maintenance and those who take on managerial roles. 

Career Requirements

To become a line technician, you really only need a high school diploma or comparable experience. The real training comes when you land employment, as your professional training will involve your company’s unique training protocols. To land the better positions however, you can get a leg up on the competition by earning an Associate of Industrial Technology with a focus on electrical repair. The best positions might still require additional training, which you can complete in advance through completing an apprenticeship with an established line repair tech. 

Fire Science Management

Required Degree –  Associate of Fire Science; Fire Science Management

Median Salary – $76,000

Career Description

Fire science is the field of study that prepares professionals for successful careers as firefighters or fire science consultants. The most prevalent position with the most impressive median salaries to make use of this is fire science management. These professionals operate in a leadership capacity in fire departments, usually taking on managerial positions as fire investigators, forest fire inspectors,  or fire prevention specialists. In many cases fire science managers will cover a range of responsibilities in a single position. While competitive, professionals can land these positions with the necessary level of school and specialization.

Career Requirements

A great starting place for breaking into this industry is with some entry-level work in the industry. Because of the risks associated with working around something as dangerous as fire, employers often want to see a successful work history before hiring a fire scientist manager. With this in mind, it can be beneficial to first receive training or professional certification as a firefighter or fire investigator. You can then pursue the necessary education for earning a managerial position in an Associate of Fire Science Management. 

Cyber Security Specialist

Required Degree – Associate of Cybersecurity  

Median Salary – $76,000

Career Description

Cybersecurity is the industry concerned with the protection of data, privacy, and software from corruption or theft. Cybersecurity specialists are professionals who work with large companies or with individuals to ensure the safety of their digital resources. These professionals become proficient in various areas of computer science, while mastering a select few pieces of software. Cybersecurity specialists usually choose a direction to master, such as business to business correspondence or anti identity theft measures. Specializing your professional skill set is the key to driving up compensation potential in this industry. 

Career Requirements

There are a number of suitable entry points into this industry, foremost among which is an Associate of Cybersecurity. If you can find a program that offers a specialized curriculum, you will have even better odds of reaching an impressive salary. Further inroads into this industry include cybersecurity professional certifications, apprenticeships, and cybersecurity skill-based boot camps. Professionals interested in bachelor’s or master’s programs should look into computer science programs with specializations in cybersecurity.

Dental Hygienist

Required Degree –  Associate in Dental Hygiene

Median Salary – $74,000

Career Description

If you have ever been to the dentist to have your teeth cleaned or a cavity filled, then you have probably noticed the professional who assists your dentist throughout the process. These professionals are known as dental hygienists–they are to dentists what surgical techs are to surgeons. As such they assist dentists in a variety of dental procedures and offer an excellent middle-ground for professionals interested in dentistry who are not able or willing to navigate the notoriously high barriers of dental school. Dental hygienists take home an impressive salary even at an entry level, and will see compensation packages grow as their professional clout grows.  

Career Requirements

An associate of dental hygiene is required for all positions, except teaching or clinical research positions, which are reserved for professionals with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. The dental hygiene industry is steady and the job market continues to grow as new technology creates the need for new dental professionals. Given the security of the job market and the high entry-level salaries, students should expect to pay higher than average tuition for their associate’s degree. It is estimated that the average expense sits around $22,000 from start to graduation–an expense that seems entirely reasonable given the salaries that students can expect to earn after graduation. 

Nautical Engineering Technologist

Required Degree – Associate of Marine Engineering; Professional Engineer License

Median Salary – $73,000

Career Description

Nautical engineering is the field wherein professionals research and design all manner of marine crafts, as well as overseeing offshore operations such as oil rigs and marine research stations. Nautical engineering technologists specialize in skills and knowledge that help to maintain the safety and efficiency of marine operations. For instance, these professionals might serve as consultants for off-shore oil operations to ensure they are using the most current methods for drilling, ferrying staff, all while meeting federal guidelines for environmental safety.

Career Requirements

The most common entry point into this career is with a bachelor’s or master’s of nautical engineering. This requirement is easily circumnavigated through cleverly combining different skill sets and education programs. Prospective students, for instance, can earn an associate’s in engineering in order to earn their professional engineering license. They can then undergo an apprenticeship or earn further professional licensure to enable work with nautical engineering technology. Once this work experience is established, professionals should be able to land mid level positions in this industry, even alongside professionals with much more advanced education backgrounds.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Required Degree – Associate of Nuclear Medicine Technology 

Median Salary – $72,000

Career Description

As medical technology evolves, so too does the market for highly specialized professionals to put the technology into action. One such form of technology is a medical imaging method called radiotracing–where trace amounts of radioactive materials are ingested by the patient, or injected into them. These radioactive materials act as tracers for medical imaging professionals to track how they move and how their body processes them in order to determine if there is disease or illness present in the patient. Nuclear medicine professionals use this technique and other similar approaches to identify problems in the human body that cannot be identified by other methods.

Career Requirements

One of the most efficient and most popular entry points into this career is through a two-year Associate of Nuclear Medicine Technology program. Further professional certification is needed for full employment, but these certifications are usually either granted through your degree program, or lined up after graduation. Like many other careers on this list, nuclear medicine technologists will have better odds of landing high-end salaries as they increase their specialized expertise and work history. 

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Required degree –  Associate of Diagnostic Sonography

Median Salary – $72,000

Career Description

While nuclear medicine technologists use radioactive materials in their imaging technology, the basis of the medical sonographer’s approach is sound. That is, they oversee technology that projects sound waves into the patient’s body in order to create images of the desired organ or tissue. You might be familiar with this technique if you have ever witnessed the process or result of an ultrasound, which allows an expecting mother to see early-development pictures of her child. Professionals in this industry will see excellent compensation should they pursue specialization in any of these areas: abdomen, breast, vascular, or cardiac sonography.  

Career Requirements

While advanced education is a common method for achieving the aforementioned specialization, the most popular entry point into this field is through an associate’s degree program. Once a student has graduated with an Associate of Diagnostic Sonography, they can pursue such specialization through building a work history in that direction, rather than attempting to build it solely through education. If you prefer to earn this specialization before entering the workforce however, you should look for degree programs that specifically mention one of the above specializations.

Magnetic Imaging Resonance Technologist

Required Degree – Associate of Magnetic Imaging Resonance Technology 

Median Salary – $71,000

Career Description

Magnetic imaging resonance is the medical imaging technique where operators use high tech scanners to create high detail images of various parts of the patient’s body. Unlike other approaches however, this technique uses high power magnetic waves to create the image. These professionals are commonly referred to as MRI technicians, and their daily routines involve working closely with physicians and other technicians to access patients in a diagnostic capacity. Entry level salaries remain high throughout the changing economy due to the steadfast demand for MRI technicians or MRI technologists–and their roles vary only slightly. 

Career Requirements

An associate’s degree is the most common starting place for professionals looking to start their career as an MRI tech. After graduation professionals will need to complete the professional certification process before taking on full time employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that earning potential is greatest for both MRI technicians and MRI technologists when they hold two or more certifications. This creates an excellent avenue for vertical professional mobility over time. 

Web Developer

Required Degree –  Associate of Computer Science 

Median Salary – $70,000

Career Description

Web developers are professionals who specialize in bringing websites to live, and in the upper echelons of their field are able to design and install complex website functionalities such as social functionalities, data hosting, and media sharing. Web developers usually choose a speciality early-on out of necessity, that is, there are so many different web programming avenues that it is difficult to master them all. Most web developers choose one or two of the following languages to master: HTML, CSS, or Javascript–though many more exist. 

Career Requirements

There is no set degree path for web development specifically, so in this regard it is a highly flexible career path. The BLS reports however, that the most commonly held degree for entry level professionals is an associate’s degree. For prospective web developers, the most effective associate’s degree to pursue will be a program in computer science that offers a clear focus on web development. Earning potential from there will primarily depend on the effectiveness with which you master various programming languages. The second major variable of compensation will be the extent to which you focus on front-end or back-end development in your career. If you plan to master both approaches to web-development, you can expect to see a massive jump in salary (see our entry on full-stack engineering). 

Engineering Technologist

Required Degree – Associate of Engineering Technology 

Median Salary – $67,000

Career Description

An engineering technologist takes engineering into the mainstream, that is, they implement complex engineering principles or techniques into products or organizations. For example, an engineering technologist might be consulted by a coffee machine manufacturer when they are looking to iterate on their original design. If they want to make it quieter, faster, or less wasteful they will look to an engineering technologist for answers. Because of the wide and general appeal of this skillset, engineering technologists work in an astounding variety of environments. Virtually any industry that might benefit from the creative problem solving of an engineer will employ these professionals. 

Career Requirements

Both an associate’s degree program and a bachelor’s program are sufficient preparation for entry level positions in this industry. Though as is becoming a running theme in this resource, the big decision will be whether to spend more time in school (4 year route) work towards specialization through advanced education, or to build specialization through work experience (2 year route). There is no right answer here, but unlocking the upper tier salaries of this profession will depend both on the direction of your specialization and how well your work history presents it. 

Applied Behavior Analysis (BCBA) Assistant

Required Degree –  Bachelor’s / Board Certified BCaBA Certification

Median Salary – $65,000

Career Description

Behavior analytics is a massive industry, and its professionals inhabit a variety of industries–from sports, to the medical field, to corporate human resources. A sub-specialization of this profession is Applied Behavior Analysis (BCaBA). These professionals are trained to evaluate behavior according to very specific testing procedures and protocols. They might work in a private healthcare facility, working closely with children with autism to monitor behavior and analyze test results. Or they might work in a large hospital, administering tests to patients with brain trauma. These professionals can also be employed as consultants–sought after when testing the results of a new drug or supplement that is meant to alter brain function. 

Career Requirements

This career is somewhat different than many programs on this list, because acquiring the necessary certification will require at least a bachelor’s degree, though it can be in any discipline. We are including it in this list however, because if any individual already holds a bachelor’s degree that they have levared into a career that they now look to change, there is very little, if any, schooling required to move into the BCaBA profession. The only real requirement–beyond that of the basic undergraduate degree–is that professionals complete a board certified BCaBA certification program offered by an accredited organization.

Electronics Engineering Technologist 

Required Degree – Associate of Engineering Technology; Electronics Technology

Median Salary – $64,000

Career Description

Electronics engineering technology is a more specialized field of engineering technology (#18 on our ranking). As indicated by the name of this profession, the differentiating factor is the increased focus on electronic technology. These professionals work closely with product engineers to design and develop electronic components and devices. The median salary of professionals in this field is less than of the more general field of #18, because #18 incorporates various specializations, some of which are harder to obtain and thus are more lucrative. Electronics engineering technologists are still well-compensated for their work, which can be further increased by specializing in specific types of electronics engineering (particularly industrial electronics). 

Career Requirements

The barrier to entry is lower in electronics engineering technology when you consider that electrical skills are valued highly in this field. For this reason, many electricians make the jump into this profession with little or no schooling. If you lack the background in electrical work, an associate’s degree program in engineering technology will serve as a sufficient foundation. To increase your desirability in the job market look for opportunities to establish expertise in electrics.

Avionics Technology Technician

Degree Requirements –  

Median Salary – $64,000

Career Description

Aviation technology covers a wide range of markets relating to the operation and maintenance of aircraft. While the broad responsibilities of this professional are similar to a mechanic, the exact duties of the profession will vary from technician to technician, depending on the exact type of certification they hold, which determines which types of craft they are qualified to work with and what maintenance methods they can employ. While entry level salaries are solid, earning potential increases strongly with the number of certifications held and level of specialization. Upper-end salaries reach six figures easily and can even steadily increase from there with strong work histories.

Career Requirements

There are a number of entry points into this career with the differentiating factor being the type of certification desired. What kind of certification you want will depend on the type of machines you want to work with and your background in the various types of aviation software. Fast-paced aviation maintenance technology certification programs exist to train mechanics and send them into the job market as quickly as possible. Without any existing experience in the field, you might be best suited pursuing an associate’s degree program in a similar program.  

Cardiovascular Technologist

Required Degree –  Associate Degree in Cardiovascular Technology

Median Salary – $64,000

Career Description

Heart disease is a major problem around the world, and particularly so in the United States. To fight it, cardiovascular physicians use a number of diagnostic approaches to assess a patient’s heart health in order to develop treatment plans. At the center of this effort are cardiovascular technologists, or cardiovascular techs. These professionals master various computer software, diagnostic instruments, and imaging technology in order to provide physicians with the info they need to make their judgment. Cardiovascular techs usually work in hospitals, but can also work in research facilities that target the development of new medical technology.

Career Requirements

In order to land a job as a cardiovascular technician, you need the appropriate professional certifications. These certifications can be earned in-tandem with your chosen education program, or as a separate endeavor. The most common preparation is through an associate’s program. To push your earnings, it will be a good idea to specialize as much as possible wherever possible, so keep an eye for any degree programs that cover some of the more highly desirable specializations. 

Electro-Mechanical Technician

Required Degree – Associate of Electro-Mechanics 

Median Salary – $64,000

Career Description

The field of electromechanics is concerned with designing, maintaining, and operating mechanical equipment. Recent developments in the industry have shifted the market’s focus to the operation of unmanned, automated, and robotic electromechanical equipment. Electro-mechanical technicians work in a variety of environments to ensure these machines are working, and implement plans of action to correct them if they are not. Upward mobility in this field is largely due to a technician’s level of specialization and work history.

Career Requirements

According to the BLS, the most common background of entry level professionals is an associate’s degree in Electro-Mechanics, though other options exist. Some organizations offer professional diploma programs, apprenticeships, and bachelor’s programs as well. To increase earning potential it will be crucial to establish specialization in working with specific kinds of machines, such as automated industrial machines. 

Crane Operator

Required Degree –  Apprenticeship; Journeyman Certification

Median Salary – $63,000

Career Description

It’s all in the name for this entry. Crane operators work in a variety of settings, usually on large scale construction sites. Given the danger associated in working with such large pieces of machinery, crane operators take home some impressive salaries. While there are not a tremendous amount of options for upward mobility, experienced crane operators do take home better salaries, as they are allowed to operate more technical equipment on more skill-based jobs. 

Career Requirements

If you are interested in starting a career in crane operation, you won’t have many hoops to jump through. If you hold a high school diploma, the only other requirement is that you complete a crane operation apprenticeship program in order to earn your Journeyman certificate. Further professional development can be pursued in on-the-job training, or in specialized apprenticeship programs, which are usually offered by private contractors or unions. 

Network Administrator 

Required Degree – Associate of Network Administration

Median Salary – $62,000

Career Description

Network administrators are responsible for setting up, maintaining, and should the need arise, troubleshooting computer connections. Employers place these professionals in a variety of work settings to work in groups or independently. For this reason, employers prioritize soft skills in assessing candidates. That is, they prefer employees who have strong communication skills and work well in either teams or independently. As a highly skill-based profession, compensation depends largely on your background and demonstrable expertise. Because of this network administrators can expect some excellent financial incentives for increasing their skill sets. 

Career Requirements

Given the high skill requirement of this field, it is common for network administrators to pursue a four-year college education and even graduate education. If you have a natural aptitude for network administration, or if you already have work experience in the field, you might be better served pursuing an associate’s degree in network administration, which is reportedly the minimum educational requirement. Given the skill-based nature of this work however, the only real requirement is that you are able to complete the tasks of network administration effectively. So in this sense, you could succeed in this career through self-taught skills and talent alone–though that will be exceedingly rare.  

Insurance Adjuster

Required Degree – Insurance Adjuster Certification 

Median Salary – $62,000

Career Description

The insurance industry remains strong as ever. Life is chaotic, plans often go awry, and disasters happen. This means that insurance claims are constantly flowing in, making the claims adjusters who manage them on high-demand. Insurance adjusters work closely with customers to insure that policies are being enforced appropriately. This career favors detail oriented professionals who are comfortable with numbers and financial calculations, who also don’t mind working with individuals in a state of crisis. Prospects are looking great for those with this career as an older generation is steadily retiring out of this position, opening the door to new adjusters and new promotions. 

Career Requirements

Depending on where you live, you might be able to start your career as a claims adjustor immediately with minimal requisites. Some states require a certification process, or continuing education credits one you become certified. But for the most part, there is very little preparation or education required to get started. Though if you are required to take a certification test, it might be worth it to pick up one of the ‘study packages’ made available online by several organizations. 

Respiratory Therapist

Required Degree – Associate of Respiratory Therapy

Median Salary – $60,000

Career Description

Respiratory therapists are medical professionals who specialize in the health of human lungs, and in the diagnosis of any illnesses or diseases that might arise in the lungs. These professionals work in doctor’s offices, hospitals, clinics, research facilities, retirement homes, and rehab facilities. Their responsibilities vary depending on their background and the unique demands of their position, but generally they will assist physicians in assessment and correction of patients’ lung health. As such, respiratory therapists will be required to become comfortable with use of diagnostic medical tools, equipment, and any relevant computer software. 

Career Requirements

The BLS reports that an associate’s degree is the most commonly held background for entry level professionals. A number of alternative options exist however, but the main predictor of salary is work experience. So like many other careers on this list the best choice will be the one that grants you a desired level of specialization as efficiently as possible, so that you can begin building the work experience that you can in-turn leverage for better compensation. 

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Required Degree –  Associate Degree of Occupational Therapy

Median Salary – $60,000

Career Description

Occupational therapists are professionals who work with those struggling to manage the responsibilities of daily life. These therapists might work closely with individuals recovering from traumatic injuries, with children who have a disability, or with an elderly patient who has trouble with certain physical tasks. For instance, if someone is traumatically injured in a car wreck, breaking bones and sustaining serious injury, the road to recovery will be long and arduous. Occupational therapists will assist such patients as they relearn how to complete their daily routine while they recover. 

Career Requirements

Earning an associate’s degree is more than acceptable as a starting place for a career in occupational therapy. Salaries increase with experience for occupational therapy assistants, as well. The other main predictor of earning a higher salary is the level of specialization held, which can be established through either education programs or through building work history in a specific direction of expertise. 

Criminal Justice Professional

Required Degree –  Associate of Criminal Justice

Median Salary – $59,000

Career Description

Criminal justice professionals employ a specialized knowledge of America’s legal system in order to take on different jobs and professional responsibilities. A private investigator, for instance, will work either privately or in a corporate environment to explore the legality or ethicality of actions taken by a certain individual or organization. A crime scene technician on the other hand will leverage a similar education and skill set in order to assist law enforcement in the collection and analysis of evidence from a crime scene. Some journalists also pursue a basic level of education in criminal justice in order to report on the industry more comprehensively. 

Career Requirements

While the salary potential will vary from industry to industry, a career as a criminal justice professional is jump started quickly and affordably with an associate’s degree. The most lucrative positions are those that demand a specialized skill set. Private investigators and crime scene technicians both receive around the same entry level pay, and scale to six figures with advanced expertise. A private investigator would be well-suited to consider specializing in fraud investigation, while a crime scene investigator would be well-compensated for a specialization in forensic-evidence analysis. 

Physical Therapy Assistant  

Required Degree – Associate of Physical Therapy 

Median Salary – $58,000

Career Description

Physical therapy is a robust industry that covers all manner of physical rehabilitation, be it to recover from a traumatic injury, natural disability, or from injuries sustained due the aging process. Physical therapists are employed in hospitals, private physical rehabilitation facilities, as well as sports agencies. These assistants work with managing physical therapists like dental hygienists function in relation to dentists, that is, physical therapy assistants will work collaboratively with physicians and other medical professionals at all levels of care to help their patients reach their desired outcomes. 

Career Requirements

Even if you want to become a fully-certified physical therapist eventually, becoming a physical therapy assistant first is an excellent choice. The education is nearly identical early on, and many of the educational requirements can be waived entirely if suitable work experience is demonstrated. But if you want to focus on raising earning potential as an assistant, positions are compensated highest when they require a high level of expertise. So specializing in some of the more highly demanded skills of physical therapy is key to driving up compensation potential. 

Mechanical Engineering Technician

Required Degree – Associate of Mechanical Engineering 

Median Salary – $56,000

Career Description

Mechanical engineers technicians work side-by-side mechanical engineers to assist in the designing, manufacturing, and testing of mechanical devices. As insinuated by this generalized description, this skillset is applicable in countless settings, and can lead to work in a wide array of positions in the following industries: the aerospace industry, automotive industry, chemicals industry, construction industry, defence industries, marine equipment industry, and the materials and metals industry. Like other engineering careers in this ranking, the primary predictors of salary are specialization and work experience.

Career Requirements

To begin your career as a mechanical engineering technician you will need at least an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering. Many professionals choose to improve their chances in the job market by pursuing further education in bachelor’s programs or graduate programs. As a skill-based career however, mechanical engineer technicians can achieve success through demonstrating their professional expertise–so ultimately the best choice for you will be the path that is most well-suited to developing the skills you need. Your best option for developing skills outside of a degree program is in an apprenticeship, which typically targets the most highly demanded and lucrative skills of the trade. 

Farm Manager 

Degree Required – Associate of Agriculture

Median Salary – $56,000

Career Description

While the days of old-school, mom-and-pop farming may be gone, industrial farming has taken its place. And with it has come a wealth of opportunity for enterprising farming professionals. Foremost among these are farm managers, who oversee mid to large sized farming operations. These managers oversee large teams of farming professionals and can pull some top-tier salaries later in their careers, with entry level salaries offering a decent starting place as well. Seniority is king in this field, which makes mid-to-high level positions much more competitive to newcomers, but this system is balanced by its rewarding more experienced farm managers with higher salaries as they accrue experience and expertise. 

Career Requirements

There are various entry points into this profession. Professionals with farming experience might be able to skip further education altogether. Newcomers to the profession however, might need to build a base of knowledge in an associate’s of agriculture program. Some programs specialize in specific types of industrial farming, which can be a great way to gain a leg up on the competition. 

Industrial Technologist

Required Degree –  Associate of Industrial Engineering

Median Salary – $55,000

Career Description

Industrial technologists employ specialized knowledge of engineering principles to inform the industrial manufacturing process. These professionals work with assembly line engineers and other professionals concerned with the manufacturing process. Industrial technologists are essentially the creative problem solvers of the manufacturing industry. If an assembly line needs a bump in efficiency an industrial technologist might be consulted. If an automobile plant needs to limit their carbon emissions, they might first consult their resident industrial technologist to survey their options. 

Career Requirements

In a career that is so widely varied from industry to industry, the determining factor in job requirement will be specialized knowledge. For instance, to work in a car assembly operation, you will likely need to accrue some specialized knowledge of the automobile industry. Many industrial engineering associate’s degree programs offer the opportunity for such specialization. The only challenge here is that you will be required to know ahead of time your desired speciality, so that you can start building it early.

Drafting & Design Technologist

Required Degree –  Associate of Drafting and Design

Median Salary – $55,000

Career Description

Architects are busy people, and many times they will outsource large parts of their job to specialized contractors. Drafting and design technologists, for instance, are often charged with drafting a design according to desired specifications given by an architect or engineer. These professionals specialize in design, 3D modeling software, and the basics of architecture in order to quickly and efficiently draft various blueprints for presentations, pitches, or to be handed off to another group. While the entry level salary appears average, drafting and design technologists can earn hefty salaries after demonstrating some success in their field. 

Career Requirements

Drafting and design school takes multiple forms. Associate’s degree programs represent the most common entry point into the career, but bachelor’s and graduate programs are common preparation for more demanding positions. Electrical engineering and civil engineering are also commonly held degrees in this field, which have been shown to increase earning potential.

Speech-Language Pathology Assistant

Required Degree –  Associate of Speech Pathology

Median Salary – $55,000

Career Description

Speech pathologists are master’s educated professionals, who help their clients overcome speech impediments or other barriers to good speaking behavior. Politicians, musicians, and other professionals who rely on strong communication skills often consult speech pathologists as well. Due to the notoriously steep educational requirements however, many professionals interested in this field opt for a career as speech pathology assistant, which requires much less to start. These assistants often have many of the same responsibilities as fully-accredited speech pathologists, however they will not be able to work with patients in a one-on-one capacity, due to legal stipulations and state policies. 

Career Requirements

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) offers a number of fully accredited speech-language pathology assistant associate’s degree programs. These represent the best options for aspiring prospects of this career, since ASHA is also the primary accrediting agency you will need to consult for the necessary licensure to start full-time employment as a speech-pathologist assistant. . 

Architectural and Engineering Design Technologist

Required Degree –  Associate of Architectural and Engineering Technology

Median Salary – $54,000

Career Description

While a professional draftsman takes the specs provided by an architect to draw up design plans, an architectural-engineering design technologist takes initial design plans and converts them into a technical document. These professionals usually focus on a subset of the architectural, or engineering, design-process requirements in bringing a project up to code. As such an architectural-engineering design technologist might specialize in fire and safety systems, anti-intruder system design, or structure and foundation design. Depending on the intended specialization of their career, these professionals will master different kinds of advanced design software, which may or may not be taught in a degree program. 

Career Requirements

While various levels of education exist to prepare students for this career, an associate’s degree program will function as an excellent start. In order to choose the program with the highest return on investment, be sure to confirm that your architectural-engineering design technology associate’s program offers courses in the types of specializations you are interested in. As mentioned in the above paragraph, a precursor to bringing home higher salaries is specializing in on-demand design software.

Petroleum Technician

Required Degree –  Associate in Applied Science; Geological Science

Median Salary – $53,000

Career Description

The industry concerned with extracting natural resources from our planet is a divisive one, but there is no denying that it also offers a host of tremendously rewarding professions. Among these is the position of petroleum technicians, who assist geological engineers and petroleum scientists in the extraction of these resources, the most lucrative resource to specialize in being petroleum, or oil as most people know it. These professionals are deployed all over the world–from remote forest ranges to offshore deep-ocean rigs. Their responsibilities usually entail a mostly outdoor regimen of duties, however there are various positions which focus on different aspects of the extraction process–some of which are more akin to an office job if that is more appealing. 

Career Requirements

There are various inroads to the field of petroleum technology. To become a well-compensated petroleum technician, for instance, you might not need any schooling at all. To have the best odds of success however, students should consider an associate’s degree in a related field. Programs focused exclusively on petroleum technology are few and far between, but a sufficient education is offered through any associate’s of applied science program with a focus on geological science. Vertical mobility in this career will depend on a combination of specialized skills and established work history; however many professionals opt to take on promotions over time which take them out of the technicians position. But regardless, the position of the petroleum technician functions as one of the best entry level jobs in the petroleum-extraction job market.

Civil Engineering Technician

Required Degree –  Associate of Civil Engineering Technology

Median Salary – $52,000

Career Description

Civil engineers plan, design, and build all the various components of the American cities we know and love today–from bridges, to highways, to the land development of national parks. These jobs are enormous however, and even the collection of necessary measurements can require a team of professionals to work collaboratively. These teams are usually composed of civil engineering technicians, who specialize in all the various types of engineer technology needed to complete civil engineering contracts in a timely manner. These professionals assist civil engineers and other physical scientists in a wide range of duties, and can function as an excellent starting place for aspiring civil engineers, or can function as a lucrative career in its own right. 

Career Requirements

To land the listed median salary on your first civil engineering technician job, you will probably need an associate’s degree in engineering technology. Employers compensate technicians for their expertise and specializations, so if you can find a program that offers a civil engineering focus, or a focus on high-demand technology, you should definitely consider it. Civil engineering is a massive market, and you can push the listed salary even higher if you work in areas of high skill requirements or those that require a more established work history. 

Electrical Technician

Required Degree – Associate of Science; Electrical Technology 

Median Salary – $52,000

Career Description

If you are interested in an electrician’s career, but are unsure what you want to focus on, a good alternative might be to begin work as an electrical technologist, or technician. These professionals pursue study in electrical technology in order to master the operation and maintenance of electrical equipment. Their skill set is in high-demand within several areas of the electrician’s job market, and as such it can function as a great entry point into the field. Starting salaries are impressive, but they quickly sore as professionals build expertise and work experience–with salaries even doubling when professionals demonstrate both. 

Career Requirements

To begin your career in electrical technology, you should start with an associate of science in electrical technology. Some associate’s degree programs will offer an applied science degree with a focus in multiple areas, and as long as the program covers electrical technology in one of its areas of focus, you should be prepared to take on entry-level employment upon graduation. Electrical technicians can earn promotions and salary-bumps by specializing in the operation of highly technical machinery and/or machine maintenance. 

Demolitions Operative

Required Degree – GRE; Demolitions Apprenticeship

Median Salary – $51,000

Career Description

Have you ever seen a recorded video of a building’s demolition? Did you wonder what kind of professionals were involved in such a feat? The demolition of a building takes weeks,  months, or even years of preparation. And the professionals concerned with completing most of this preparation is the demolitions operative. These professionals can work at one of three levels: a labourer puts up safety screens, removes hazards, and separates building materials on site; a mattock dismantles various parts of the building such roofing, doors, and windows; and a topman works to oversee all the various responsibilities of the previous two and instructs demolitions operatives in safe practice. 

Career Requirements

Due to the safety concerns of such a job, employers reward seniority more than in most other professions. That being said, the entry level salaries will be a great starting place for many professionals, and present very few barriers to entry. The career requirements to become a demolitions operative are few, and are designed more as a means of safety training, rather than building technical skills. As such, the core training required is primarily delivered in the form of a demolitions apprenticeship, which can be completed very quickly and affordably. 

Solar Technician – Solar Photovoltaic Installer

Required Degree –  Associate of Solar Technology

Median Salary – $51,000

Career Description

As more technology is developed to harness the power of the sun, converting it into usable energy, so too are new jobs made for specialists to manage this newly developed solar technology. Solar technicians, or solar photovoltaic installers as they are referred to in the industry, are the professionals who assemble and install solar technology, providing maintenance wherever necessary. These professionals mainly work outdoors and can occasionally be required to scale great heights to work on rooftops. But because solar technology is still somewhat new, the largest contracts often require traveling. As such solar technicians jobs will usually require a flexibility that allows for irregular travel schedules.  

Career Requirements

Entry level salaries are strong starting points, however experienced solar technicians, who take on more dangerous or technically demanding jobs, can take home salaries much larger than the one listed above. To increase your odds of landing these more lucrative positions, you will likely need to earn an Associate of Science in Solar Technology, or at least an associate of applied science with a focus on electrical technology.

Environmental Engineering Technician

Required Degree –  Associate of Environmental Engineering Technology

Median Salary – $50,000

Career Description

Environmental engineers are masters of the natural world, and employ their specialized skills in a twofold approach. Firstly, they work to protect humans from any negative outcomes that might be associated with the environment around them–from volcanoes, to flood zones, or gas leaks. Secondly, they work to protect the environment from any negative outcomes that might be associated with human habitation. Their work can involve relocating endangered species, fortifying dams or flood zones, or working to reverse carbon emissions from large manufacturing operations. The professionals who put an environmental engineer’s plans into action are environmental engineer technicians.

Career Requirements

These professionals can earn a strong starting salary by completing an associate’s degree program in environmental engineering technology. As mentioned above however, the skill sets in this profession can vary drastically from job to job. So to increase your earning potential it will be best to pursue a specialized line or work. It is also of note here that the jobs with the most associated risk and/or travel requirements often offer the best compensation packages.

Paralegal  

Required Degree – Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies

Median Salary – $50,000

Career Description

The legal system in America has created some of the most lucrative careers available in the job market. Everyone has heard of big-time lawyers at large corporatized law firms that bring home millions annually. Unfortunately, this archetype is becoming increasingly rare in a saturated market, and more legal firms are daily responsibilities onto the shoulders of well-rounded legal professionals known as paralegals. These professionals work in every area of the legal process except the courtroom. Paralegals conduct research, organize filings, and work closely with lawyers, judges, and legal analysts to help make the legal system in America function smoothly.

Career Requirements

While you probably associate the ‘big bucks’ with lawyers, it is becoming more and more common for paralegals to distinguish themselves through professionals excellence. Veteran paralegals can bring in six-figure salaries easily, particularly if they take on the managerial responsibilities of overseeing a group of paralegals. While there are no legal requirements or certifications required to become a paralegal, the best employers do set a high standard for applicants. To beat out the competition for these jobs, you will need at least an Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies. Many paralegals continue their education off and on throughout their careers–with some of the most lucrative positions being awarded to paralegals with years of in-industry experience coupled with higher education. 

Web Designer  

Required Degree – Associate of Web Development; Graphic Design; Computer Science 

Median Salary – $50,000

Career Description

Designing a website requires equal parts technical skill and artistic flair. Many of the best web designers come from different backgrounds and incorporate their style in a way that is unique to them. This means that web design as a profession is largely skill and outcome based. A-list web designers can bring home some jaw-dropping salaries. And many of these professionals end up opening web design firms, or joining larger marketing or design agencies with strong compensation potential. Even entry level web designers can bring home a great starting salary of around $50,000. 

Career Requirements

As the demand for sleek and effective website design continues to grow, the job market for web design looks promising for years to come. So whether you are looking to dabble in web design as a side hustle, or if you are looking to lock in a full-time career, an associate’s degree will be a great starting place. Some of the best associate’s degree program options will be as follows: web development, graphic design, computer science, web programming, or UX/UI design. Many bachelor’s programs look to give you a specialized approach, but industry pundits suggest you might be better off working on such specializations by attending professional boot camps, or by pursuing specialized contract work. 

Biomedical Engineering Technician

Required Degree –  Professional Certification, 

or Associate’s in Biomedicine; Biomedical Engineering 

Median Salary – $49,000

Career Description

As medical technology continues to evolve, more people are beginning to realize that we are already living in a sci-fi world. Lab grown organs, microscopic laser surgery, and the development of nanomedicine technology are each clear reminders of this. And yet as we invent more mind-blowing and futuristic medical equipment, we also create the need for specialists to operate this equipment. Biomedical technicians are professionals who specialize in installing, operating, and repairing highly technical biomedical equipment. Entry level salaries represent a decent starting wage, but the real appeal is in the long term value of this career path. Biomedical engineer technicians can develop highly specialized expertise in a certain type of medical equipment, such as genetic testing machines. Specialized technicians with strong work historys can pull in much higher salaries, and can even work towards managerial positions where they will lead other technicians. 

Career Requirements

There are a number of suitable inroads to begin your profession as a biomedical engineer technician. The quickest and most affordable method will be entering into an accelerated program that awards an accredited professional certification for your desired area of the craft. For instance, some programs prioritize certification in computer diagnostic equipment while others prioritize certification in the operation of electronic medical equipment. To better your chances of landing a better-paying position however, you might find the best option is to invest in a two-year associate’s degree program that will award you both an Associate’s of Applied Science in Biomedical Engineering as well as the required professional certification.

Plumbing Technician  

Required Degree – Highschool Diploma; Apprenticeship

Median Salary – $49,000

Career Description

If you have never considered a procession in plumbing before, you might want to reconsider. Plumbing as an industry is notoriously understaffed, and it requires little or no preparation to start your career. The demand for new plumbers combined with a growing need for highly specialized plumbers is driving the median salary up, as well as driving up eventual earning potential for established plumbers. While these professionals might certainly be called out to fix the occasional drippy sink, the real money is in industrial plumbing contracts. Experienced plumbing professionals will be paid well to travel around the country to perform installations or maintenance on large industrial farms, water processing plants, or construction sites. 

Career Requirements

There are no major popular education programs that will better prepare you for this job more than the on-site training you will receive once you begin your career. To specialize and further develop your skills, there are a wide-array of trade apprenticeships to provide you with the training required. In order to work towards the highest compensation packages, plumbing technicians will want to continue to develop their skills and knowledge throughout their careers.

Licensed Practical Nurse 

Required Degree – Associate of Nursing (LPN)

Median Salary – $48,000

Career Description

The medical industry in America is in dire need of more nursing professionals, and as such there has never been a better time become one. Nursing professionals work in a variety of medical environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, and rehab facilities. The professionals are the swiss army knives of the medical world, because they do a little bit of everything. The median salary can be somewhat misleading, because LPNs can take home much more than their stated annual salary by working overtime, holidays, or by accepting on-call or night-shift positions. Earnings will be further multiplied as you develop working experience, though it can be difficult to leverage seniority for a raise if there are no other employment options near to you. 

Career Requirements

You will need to complete a state-approved LPN training program to start your career as an LPN; and there are three primary entry points to consider. You can earn an LPN diploma, enroll in a professional certification program, or you can pursue a more well-rounded education in the form of an associate’s degree program. To land the better-paying jobs, your best bet will be to enroll in an Associate of Licensed Practical Nursing program. Before doing so however, be sure to confirm that the program offers the necessary professional certifications required by your state, and if it doesn’t, be sure that it at least prepares you to take the requisite certification test on your own.

Environmental Analyst

Required Degree – Associate of Environmental Studies

Median Salary – $46,000

Career Description

The impact of mankind on the environment is a subject of heated debate, and environmental analysts are right at its center. These professionals employ a wide range of skills in order to investigate the relationship between mankind and nature. As insinuated by such a general description, specific jobs within this career can take a number of forms. For instance, you can work with private environmental consultancy firms to gather data on greenhouse gases or climate change. Some of the better salaries for this work involved positions at federal agencies. For instance, many of these agencies will train environmental analysts in how to educate the public and enforce laws. In some cases this leads to a position as a fish and game warden or park ranger. 

Career Requirements

Because the field of environmental studies is so broad, there are a large number of suitable approaches that will serve to launch your career. What will determine the best option for you however, will be your desired end-goal. If, for instance, you want to work with federal agencies, an associate’s of environmental studies with a specialization in policy and regulation would be a great option. Or if you would like to work as an environmental research or consultant, you would be better suited to pursue an associate degree with more a focus on environmental research and the biological sciences.

HVAC Technician  

Required Degree – Associate of HVAC Technology; Electrical Engineering; Apprenticeship

Median Salary – $46,000

Career Description

If you have ever had to pay to fix your heat or air conditioning unit, then you know it’s an industry with a lot of money in it. HVAC technology has continually progressed over the years, which while being a good thing overall, it has created a gap in the market for units of an obsolete design. The same problem exists for current HVAC units being made from competing companies that employ different approaches. HVAC technicians are the boots-on-the-ground professionals who help ensure that customers’ HVAC units work as intended. These professionals undergo specific training to work with certain types of units, and so they can increase their earning potential by undergoing further training or apprenticeships to take on more demanding and likewise more lucrative parts of the job.

Career Requirements

Starting work as an HVAC technician is fairly simple. Depending on your desired area of focus, you will want to either jump right into an apprenticeship in order to enter the job market as fast as possible. Or if you want to build more technical skills to earn a higher salary, you may want to enroll in an associate of HVAC technology program. Some electrical engineering programs offer an area of focus in HVAC technology as well.

Building Technician  

Required Degree – Associate of Carpentry; Associate of Construction Science

Median Salary – $45,000

Career Description

A building technician is a professional who specializes in just that–building things. Because these professionals often work as contractors however, they usually focus on jobs that can be completed by themselves. As such one of the most commonly shared backgrounds in this profession is carpentry, as well as other skills associated with construction. These professionals work on construction sites or in residential homes to make repairs, renovations, or additions. Building technicians incorporate various other skills like laying tile, painting, or roofing. Building technicians are able to charge according to their skill level and professional record, so in order to start building to higher levels of profitability building technicians will want to start working as soon as possible. 

Career Requirements

For this reason, it is common for building technicians to start work directly after high school. The most future-minded teenagers might even start building a brand or skill set by working on odd jobs throughout high school. If you want to target the higher salaries offered by larger construction companies however, you may want to pursue an associate’s degree in either construction science or carpentry. The former will provide a more generalized education that will open more doors, but an education in carpentry will place you on a path of building specialized skills, which while more competitive is also more lucrative.