More and more students are graduating college $40,000 in debt with a job that pays half that.
So you might be interested in some careers that pay good money, and don't require that four-year degree. In many cases, a two-year associates degree is expected. In others, just a one-year "certificate."
High demand for engineers
We found a group of electro-mechanical engineering students designing what looked like a a go-kart, but was actually a remote controlled ATV.
They are students in one of many 2 -year programs at a public tech college, that can land you a good paying job right out of school.
Andrew Finton is a recent grad of the program, with an associates degree.
He's now an environmental consultant coordinating the energy conservation program at dozens of grocery stores.
He didn't want to divulge his exact salary, but said it is a lot more than he paid in tuition and fees. And the future looks bright for him.
"We've been retrofitting our stores with LED lighting, taking out fluorescents and incandescents, and putting in LED lighting," Finton explained.
No longer 'mechanic schools'
Technical schools have come a long way from their greasy fingernails reputation of the 1970s and 80s.
Now, tech and community colleges offer dozens of high tech 2-year programs that lead to jobs that are in demand, without all that student debt.
School Communications Director Jean Manning says there is huge demand for these careers right now.
"When our students graduate, they can start in the workforce immediately and start earning upwards of 35 thousand to 60 thousand dollars," she said.
And best of all, she says, "a two-year degree here is less than $9,000 on average."
Good-paying health careers
Manning says the medical field has thousands of positions paying $50,000 or more that don't require a four-year degree.
Medical Lab Technician
ADN or LPN. 2-year Nurse (an RN requires a 4-year degree)
"They're the ones that get into the operating rooms with these doctors and assist during operations," Manning explained, "and are in high demand. And it's an excellent paying position."
Good-paying trade careers
Meantime, the economy's rebound means big demand for several high paying trades.
Heating and A/C Contractor.
Interstate truck driver.
Diesel maintenance tech.
Aircraft maintenance tech: That one can pay $100,000 after a few years.
Looking for a "cleaner" trade? How about earning $75K after a few years as a:
Job Site Supervisor.
Weatherization Engineer? Tech school President Dr. O'dell Owens said "we had a student come, do 10 weeks in home weatherization, and was able to go start his own company. Two years later, he had five employees, two years later he's selling his company for big money."
Owens says all it takes is a good two-year tech school, and the desire to succeed.
"Money's not the issue. Pell Grants can help you," he said. "If you're willing to put some skin in the game, and work hard, we'll give you a career. Not a job, but a career."
Bottom line: There are many technical and medical opportunities out there these days that don't require a full bachelors degree.
That way you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the E.W. Scripps Co.
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