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The old college try

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  • | 11:00 a.m. September 8, 2017
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For several years, lobbying groups and industry associations in the region that represent trades and construction workers, among other fields, have pushed an old refrain: You don't have to earn a four-year college degree to make a solid salary and build a strong career.

Now, with the costs of actually earning that four-year college degree soaring, that refrain is becoming a reality for many would-be college students. A new survey from job website CareerCast backs up the theory, revealing the jobs with the best combination of current salary and long-term outlook that don't require a bachelor's degree.

Half the top 10 jobs in the report, based on federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data, are in health care.

Two others on the list are in the trades: plumbers and electricians — fields with an extra bonus in that no app or software (yet) can replace the act of actually doing the work. Plumbing, with an annual median salary of $51,540 and a 12% outlook, and electrician, with an annual median salary of $52,720 and a 14% outlook, have another advantage, the survey shows. That comes in the ability to be in business for yourself: Roughly 10% of plumbers and electricians are self-employed.

While the list offers some appealing options, the survey also points out that people with a four-year college degree make about 56% more than those who don't. So college has its benefits. Also, many of the positions on the non-bachelor's degree top 10 require some type of education and training beyond high school, up through an associate's degree.


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