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Top 10 Jobs That Don't Require a Bachelor's Degree

Transitioning to civilian work

Student loan debt is rising, the economy is shaky, and getting a degree is no longer a guarantee for success. What's a veteran to do? Many individuals are foregoing the four-year route and jumping straight into the job market.  Traditionally this would cause career counselors and parents alike to hem and haw, but these days it's not a bad idea. If you decide that college isn't right for you or you'd like to put it off for a while, it's best to enter the job search knowing what your best options are.

Business Insider took a look at some of the highest paying jobs that only require a high school diploma or associate's degree. But, to save you time, we've cherry-picked the top 10 jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree. Business Insider's original list was  created by looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics  and looking at "The median annual wages listed includ[ing] hourly, weekly, annual pay, sales commissions, and production bonuses. Overtime wages are not included in the data."

1) Engineering Technicians (Except Drafters)

Median annual wage (May 2010): $58,020

Degree required: Associate's degree

Description:Engineering technicians solve technical problems. Some help engineers and scientists do research and development. They build or set up equipment. They do experiments. They collect data and calculate results. They might also help to make a model of new equipment. Some technicians work in quality control where they check products, do tests, and collect data. In manufacturing, they help to design and develop products. They also find ways to produce things efficiently.

2) Business Operations Specialist

Median annual wage (May 2010): $62,450

Degree required: High school diploma

Description: Some business positions require an individual with a broad range of skills, and not all of these positions require a degree. They can be difficult to find, but many of these "ground floor" positions can prove fruitful in later years.

3) Power Plant Operators

Median annual wage (May 2010): $63,080

Degree required: High school diploma

Description: Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers control the systems that generate and distribute electric power. Power plant operators, dispatchers, and distributors need a combination of education, experience, and extensive on-the-job training. Nuclear power reactor operators also need a license. Many jobs require a background check, and workers are subject to drug and alcohol screenings.

4) Registered Nurses

Median annual wage (May 2010): $64,690

Degree required: Associate's degree

Description: Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members. Registered nurses usually take one of three education paths: a bachelor's degree in nursing, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses must also become licensed by passing a national licensing examination.

5) Commercial Pilots

Median annual wage (May 2010): $67,500

Degree required: Postsecondary non-degree award

Description: Airline and commercial pilots fly and navigate airplanes or helicopters. Airline pilots fly for airlines that transport people and cargo on a fixed schedule. Commercial pilots fly aircraft for other reasons, such as charter flights, rescue operations, firefighting, aerial photography, and crop dusting.

6) Firefighter and Prevention Worker Supervisors

Median annual wage (May 2010): $68,250

Degree required: Postsecondary non-degree award

Description: Firefighters protect the public by responding to fires and other emergencies. They are frequently the first emergency personnel on the scene of an accident. Firefighters typically enter the occupation with a postsecondary non-degree award in fire science or a related discipline. In many jurisdictions, however, the entry-level education needed to become a firefighter is a high school diploma or equivalent. Most firefighters also must pass written and physical tests, complete a series of interviews, and hold an emergency medical technician (EMT) certification. All firefighters receive extensive training after being hired.

7) Nuclear Plant Reactor Operators

Median annual wage (May 2010): $75,650

Degree required: High school diploma

Description: Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers control the systems that generate and distribute electric power. Power plant operators, dispatchers, and distributors need a combination of education, experience, and extensive on-the-job training. Nuclear power reactor operators also need a license. Many jobs require a background check, and workers are subject to drug and alcohol screenings.

8) Police and Detective Supervisors

Median annual wage (May 2010): $78,260

Degree required: High school diploma

Description: Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators, who sometimes are called agents or special agents, gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes. Law enforcement officers’ duties depend on the size and type of their organizations.

9) Construction Manager

Median annual wage (May 2010): $83,860

Degree required: Associate's degree

Description: Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from early development to completion. Employers increasingly prefer candidates with both work experience and a bachelor’s degree in a construction-related field. However, some construction managers may qualify by working many years in a construction trade. Certification, although not required, is becoming increasingly important.

10) Air Traffic Controllers

Median annual wage (May 2010): $108,040

Degree required: Associate's degree

Description: Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of air traffic to ensure that planes stay safe distances apart. To become an air traffic controller, a person must be a U.S. citizen, complete an air traffic management degree from a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified school, achieve a qualifying score on the FAA pre-employment test, and complete a training course at the FAA Academy. Controllers with previous air traffic control experience, such as from the military, may not need to complete the FAA education requirements. Those without previous air traffic control experience must be younger than 31 to become an air traffic controller.

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