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The 25 Best Jobs That Don't Require a Bachelor's Degree

Rebecca Koenig , Whitney Blair Wyckoff

No bachelor's degree? No problem.

A four-year college education can provide workers with career opportunities, yet it's not required for many good job options.

These 25 jobs that don't require a bachelor's are among the best available, according to the U.S. News Best Jobs of 2020 rankings. Some require associate degrees, while others just require high school diplomas.

Data comes from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

25. Ophthalmic Medical Technician

Median salary: $36,530
Unemployment rate: 1.1%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 8,900

Ophthalmic medical technicians assist physicians who specialize in eye care. That might include conducting eye exams or working with patients learning to care for contacts. These professionals are typically trained on the job, though some opt to attend a degree program.

Learn more about ophthalmic medical technicians.

24. Phlebotomist

Median salary: $34,480
Unemployment rate: 4%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 29,500

These workers complete training programs to prepare for careers drawing blood for research, donations and tests. More than a third work in hospitals and another third work in laboratories, while the rest work in doctor's offices and other settings.

Learn more about phlebotomists.

23. Paralegal

Median salary: $50,940
Unemployment rate: 3.1%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 39,000

Paralegals do behind-the-scenes research and administrative work to help lawyers best represent their clients. Typically, paralegals have an associate degree, though many firms and other employers want candidates to have a bachelor's.

Learn more about paralegals.

22. Insurance Sales Agent

Median salary: $50,600
Unemployment rate: 2.4%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 48,300

If the Geico gecko filed taxes, he'd probably write "insurance sales agent" in the occupation field. Insurance sales agents may sell home, health, life or long-term care insurance -- or some combination of those. While it's common for insurance sales agents to have bachelor's degrees, many companies only require a high school diploma.

Learn more about insurance sales agents.

21. MRI Technologist

Median salary: $71,670
Unemployment rate: 1.4%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 4,300

MRI technologists use magnetic resonance imaging scanners. This equipment produces images that help physicians diagnose medical conditions. These professionals need associate degrees.

Learn more about MRI technologists.

20. Radiologic Technologist

Median salary: $59,520
Unemployment rate: 1.4%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 19,000

Radiologic technologists operate sophisticated equipment that produces images used to help diagnose and treat certain ailments. They may also administer radiation therapy treatments. To become a radiologic technologist, you usually must earn an associate degree, and most states require you to be licensed or certified.

Learn more about radiologic technologists.

19. Plumber

Median salary: $53,910
Unemployment rate: 4.1%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 68,200

Plumbers get their jobs through technical schools or apprenticeship training. They read blueprints, install pipes and replace worn parts.

Learn more about plumbers.

18. Nail Technician

Median salary: $24,330
Unemployment rate: 1.8%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 15,700

Part artist, part skin care provider and sometimes part therapist, nail technicians clean and style their clients' nails. While you'll typically find them in salons or spas, some go to their clients' homes to provide services. Nail technicians must receive postsecondary training through a state-approved cosmetology program, and they generally require a license.

Learn more about nail technicians.

17. Environmental Engineering Technician

Median salary: $50,560
Unemployment rate: 0.2%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 1,500

After earning associate degrees, these workers carry out the plans developed by environmental engineers, which may include measuring pollution, operating equipment that cleans waste, keeping records and disposing of hazardous materials.

Learn more about environmental engineering technicians.

16. Occupational Therapy Assistant

Median salary: $60,220
Unemployment rate: N/A
Expected new job openings by 2028: 14,500

After an illness or injury, some people may have trouble performing simple, everyday tasks. Occupational therapy assistants work under an occupational therapist to help these patients develop skills needed for home or work. To become one, you need an associate degree.

Learn more about occupational therapy assistants.

15. Physical Therapist Aide

Median salary: $26,240
Unemployment rate: 1.3%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 11,300

Physical therapist aides perform tasks that indirectly support the care of patients. These include cleaning and set up, filling out paperwork and moving patients. They usually need high school diplomas and receive training on the job.

Learn more about physical therapist aides.

14. Solar Photovoltaic Installer

Median salary: $42,680
Unemployment rate: 3.4%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 6,100

Solar photovoltaic installers look on the sunny side -- not necessarily because they have a cheery disposition but because that's where they may want to set up their solar panels. These professionals specialize in the installation and maintenance of devices that transform the sun's rays into electricity. After earning their high school diplomas, PV installers learn their trade while working in the field, by taking community college or trade school courses, or while completing an apprenticeship.

Learn more about solar photovoltaic installers.

13. Dental Assistant

Median salary: $38,660
Unemployment rate: 2.2%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 38,700

These professionals assist dentists during procedures, sterilize dental instruments and maintain dental health records, and they may have expanded functions, depending on the state in which they practice. Educational requirements for this job vary. Prospective dental assistants in some states must complete an accredited dental assisting program and pass an exam, and in others, they learn on the job.

Find out more about dental assistants.

12. Massage Therapist

Median salary: $41,420
Unemployment rate: 1.5%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 35,400

Using their bodies to help other people relax and ease tension, massage therapists aren't confined to a desk for hours. They must complete training programs and typically need to obtain license.

Learn more about massage therapists.

11. Personal Care Aide

Median salary: $24,020
Unemployment rate: 5.6%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 881,000

People with disabilities and many elderly people rely on the care and assistance provided by personal care aides, who help clients carry out daily living tasks. Often, aides need high school diplomas.

Learn more about personal care aides.

10. Landscaper and Groundskeeper

Median salary: $29,000
Unemployment rate: 2%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 106,400

Working outdoors in all kinds of weather, groundskeepers help maintain lawns, remove snow, clear waste and keep pools operational. Landscapers plant, fertilize, water and trim trees and flowers. They receive job training once they're in their role.

Learn more about landscapers and groundskeepers.

9. Veterinary Technician

Median salary: $34,420
Unemployment rate: 0.1%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 21,100

Think of veterinary technicians as nurses for animal patients. They assist veterinarians during exams, conduct lab tests and advise animal owners on proper pet care. Veterinary technicians typically hold a two-year associate degree.

Learn more about veterinary technologists and technicians.

8. Medical Records Technician

Median salary: $40,350
Unemployment rate: 1.8%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 23,100

For medical records technicians, coding doesn't have anything to do with HTML. These professionals are trained to translate diagnoses, procedures and treatments into clinical codes for insurance reimbursement and data analysis. To become one, you usually need at least a postsecondary certificate.

Learn more about medical records technicians.

7. Medical Assistant

Median salary: $33,610
Unemployment rate: 2.8%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 154,900

Medical assistants do important health care work without having to spend years in medical school. They record patient histories, measure blood pressure, schedule appointments and assist with examinations. These workers usually complete training programs after high school to earn certificates in their field.

Learn more about medical assistants.

6. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Median salary: $72,510
Unemployment rate: 1%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 14,200

Using specialized imaging technology, diagnostic medical sonographers create images of the body's organs and tissues. These images are used to track fetus growth, detect breast cancer and diagnose conditions like heart disease. They need associate degrees, though some have bachelor's degrees.

Learn more about diagnostic medical sonographers.

5. Respiratory Therapist

Median salary: $60,280
Unemployment rate: 1.9%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 27,900

Patients who have trouble breathing, including those who suffer from asthma, drowning victims and premature infants, receive care from respiratory therapists. These professionals need associate degrees, though some may have bachelor's degrees.

Learn more about respiratory therapists.

4. Home Health Aide

Median salary: $24,200
Unemployment rate: 4.3%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 304,800

Home health aides may give medication to clients, check vital signs such as pulse and respiration, change bandages, and help with simple exercises. They usually need high school diplomas.

Learn more about home health aides.

3. Physical Therapist Assistant

Median salary: $58,040
Unemployment rate: 1.3%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 26,700

Physical therapist assistants, who help patients regain movement and manage their pain after they're injured, need associate degrees.

Learn more about physical therapist assistants.

2. Dental Hygienist

Median salary: $74,820
Unemployment rate: 0.6%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 23,700

These oral health care experts, who clean dental patients' teeth and advise them on proper mouth hygiene, need associate degrees.

Learn more about dental hygienists.

1. Web Developer

Median salary: $69,430
Unemployment rate: 1.3%
Expected new job openings by 2028: 20,900

The photos that grab your attention, the text that informs you and the functions that allow you to enter information: Web developers are responsible for all these aspects of website design and creation. They also monitor web traffic. What level of schooling a web developer needs depends on the job.

Learn more about web developers.

The best jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree include:

-- Web developer.

-- Dental hygienist.

-- Physical therapist assistant.

-- Home health aide.

-- Respiratory therapist.

-- Diagnostic medical sonographer.

-- Medical assistant.

-- Medical records technician.

-- Veterinary technician.

-- Landscaper and groundskeeper.

See the best jobs that don't require a college degree.



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