Common Searches

No matter where you look, it’s impossible to ignore media outlets blasting the latest trends in the job market. Unfortunately, more and more people are finding themselves in jobs they don’t find fulfilling, or struggling to find a job at all.

In 2013, only 47.7% of American workers were satisfied with their jobs.

The top two factors in job satisfaction are compensation and job security, so how can those looking to find or switch careers get jobs that are rewarding and stable? Traditionally, the highest-paying careers require at least a four-year degree and an average of $28,400 in student loans. Ouch!

Traditionally, the highest-paying careers require at least a 4-year degree and an average of $28,400 in student loans

Luckily, there’s a host of entry-level, relatively high-paying careers out there that you can get with an associate’s degree or less. Here are six of the most accessible opportunities for rewarding work in stable and growing industries:

1. Medical Billing & Coding Specialist

If you’re interested in the healthcare industry but hands-on work in the medical field makes you a little squeamish, or you just have a knack for organization and numbers, a career in medical insurance billing and coding (MIBC) might be exactly what you’re looking for.

What do they do?

For patients to get insurance coverage for their healthcare, all their information needs to go through medical billing and coding workers. These professionals utilize a large array of codes to represent patient symptoms, prescriptions, and diagnoses.

The billing and coding process requires:

  • Entering accurate diagnosis and treatment codes
  • Submitting claims to insurers
  • Tracking the progress and payment of claims
  • Communicating between insurance and patients

If you work in a smaller, self-contained office, billing and coding can often be handled by the same employee —that’s why it pays to learn both aspects of the process and how they work in an MIBC program.

However, many medical offices outsource their billing and coding work to companies who split the two jobs up.

What’s in it for me?

One of the best aspects of this job is its versatility. Every type of medical office, from dentists to hospitals and radiologists to the family doctor, needs qualified individuals to handle the billing and coding process. In addition, it’s a high-paying career even at entry level:

If you have an eye for detail, a penchant for accuracy, and want a stable career in the healthcare industry, medical billing and coding may be for you.

How can I become an MIBC specialist?

Many people hesitate to explore a career in medical billing and coding because they assume it requires too much education. However, anyone with the desire and motivation to enter this field will find these can be easy jobs to get, with the help of an MIBC program. These comprehensive courses can prepare you for a career in medical billing and coding in under a year by helping you learn:

  • A wide array of medical terminology
  • CPT/HCPS coding
  • Diagnostic coding
  • How to manage health information systems

These basics and others form the foundation of the knowledge you need to succeed in a rewarding career as a billing and coding specialist in a wide array of medical fields.

2. Dental Assistant

Dental Assistant salary and job growth

The healthcare field is a rapidly expanding one, with opportunities in nearly every specialty. Dental assistants are essential to the smooth operation of a dentist’s office, and are there to ensure quality care of patients.

What do they do?

When you sit down at your dentist appointment, the first person you’ll see is likely to be a dental assistant. They prepare patients for treatment in a variety of ways, like making sure they’re comfortable and sterilizing instruments. Other responsibilities can include:

  • Taking and processing X-rays
  • Orthodontic measurements
  • Suture removal

Dental assistants might also have a hand in managing the office by performing some administrative duties. As you can see, this position is excellent for anyone who wants to make a difference in patients’ health and happiness.

What’s in it for me?

Because almost all dentist’s offices are closed on the weekends, this is one of the most reliable jobs in the healthcare industry. Not to mention that:

  • Entry level dental assistants make a median salary of $34,500 annually
  • Demand for dental assistants is expected to grow 25% by 2022
  • You’ll have a head start in progressing to the level of dental hygienist, where the average salary increases to $70,210

If you’re looking for an involved and satisfying career in the dental industry, this job may be for you.

How can I become a dental assistant?

Many people assume that all jobs in the dental field require extensive schooling at an unfeasible cost. However, a college degree isn’t necessary to jump into the industry as a dental assistant. In fact, there are excellent accredited programs that can put a Dental Assistant Diploma in your hands in less than a year!

With this knowledge under your belt, you can begin a career you can be proud of.

3. Paralegal

If you’d like to put your love of crime TV to work in an industry with high-paying careers, consider becoming a legal assistant, or paralegal. These individuals provide research and administrative support to law offices or departments within corporations.

What do they do?

Paralegals are indispensable in any legal setting. One of the most important functions of a paralegal is to help lawyers prepare for trial. They’re essentially the attorney’s right-hand assistant, coordinating all aspects of preparation outside of actual legal practice. This includes, but is certainly not limited to:

  • Researching laws and judicial decisions
  • Collecting, organizing, and analyzing applicable data
  • Preparing legal documents like motions and pleadings

At more senior levels, paralegals may even be responsible for coordinating work for other employees. This career track is ideal for someone who wants to have a unique role in the justice system.

What’s in it for me?

Aside from being an invaluable part in a law firm or department, the paralegal profession has these perks to offer:

  • The median salary for paralegals is $46,990
  • This career will have faster than average growth, with a projected 17% by 2022
  • Experienced paralegals in top leadership positions can earn over $75,410

Overtime work is often a frequent bonus of a career in the paralegal track, since their research and organization are so integral to a firm or department’s success.

How can I become a paralegal?

Most employers of paralegals require candidates to have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. As intimidating as that may sound, it’s actually a program that in most cases can be completed in under two years! This will equip you with a working knowledge of different areas of the law required to be an effective paralegal — such as civil, contract, and family law.

You don’t need a law degree to be an integral part of the justice system, and the paralegal career track is proof.

4. Electrical Technician

Electrical technician salary and job growth

If your talents are more technical in nature, a position as an electrician can be a high-paying and easy job to get with the right training. These professionals install and service electricity, communications, lighting, and the appropriate control systems in homes and businesses alike.

What do they do?

Depending on an electrician’s experience, employer, and level of expertise, they may have a variety of responsibilities. Electrical technicians usually specialize in either maintenance or construction, and their projects vary accordingly. Their work is accomplished by:

  • Reading and interpreting blueprints
  • Testing, repairing, and replacing wiring and other components
  • Adhering strictly to safety standards in construction and tool use

This is an excellent career option for anyone with strong problem-solving skills who likes the prospect of a varied work environment and the opportunity for growth.

What’s in it for me?

Being able to choose between mostly-indoor maintenance or primarily-outdoor construction work is a decided plus for electrical technicians, but the field also offers:

  • A median salary of $49,840 per year
  • A projected growth rate of 20% by 2022
  • Opportunities for employment with little or no formal education

The growing demand for expert electrical work means skilled electricians will also have greater opportunities to earn higher pay by opening their own businesses.

How can I become an electrical technician?

Because of the hands-on nature of this career, it’s possible to get an apprenticeship and move on to a full-time job with just a high school diploma or GED in hand. However, anyone who wants to get a leg up in a competitive field should consider an associate’s degree program for electrical technicians. A degree program offers instruction in the basics, like:

  • Understanding blueprints, circuitry, and electronic components
  • Performing routine maintenance and troubleshooting electrical systems
  • Installation and adjustment of electrical controls

Completing such a degree program will allow you to begin your high-paying job as an electrical technician even sooner.

5. Human Resources Generalist

Every business needs a friendly face to help maintain good relations among employees and departments — and that’s what a human resources generalist provides. This career track is ideal for individuals who enjoy the management of policies and procedures in the workplace.

What do they do?

Human resources generalists act as a liaison between management and employees, and they handle situations where there are questions about regulations or company practices. HR generalists are also involved in:

  • Recruiting and hiring new employees
  • Designing and administering training programs
  • Processing and maintaining documentation of HR activities

HR generalists are there to ensure that everything relating to the human aspect of business is well-documented, easily accessible, and up to all standards.

What’s in it for me?

It pays to be a people person! In addition to making sure that a workplace runs smoothly, human resources generalists enjoy:

  • A median annual salary of $49,517
  • A stable job field, with just under average growth at 7% by 2022

This is a great career for people who like the idea of playing a vital role in the recruiting and development of a top-notch team of employees.

How can I become a human resources generalist?

As a human resources department is so integral to how businesses operate, it can seem like an inaccessible career choice for many. However, this high-paying career is also a relatively easy job to get with enough motivation and a bit of education. Some employers require a four-year degree from their HR generalists, but an HR associate’s degree can catapult you into this career in under two years. You’ll benefit from learning about:

  • Recruiting and evaluating prospective employees
  • Training and professional development
  • Benefits and compensation
  • Employment law and business ethics

A well-paid and meaningful job may await you in human resources if you’re motivated to take the steps toward an associate’s degree in the field.

6. Cardiovascular Technician

Cardiovascular Technician entry level salary and job growth

The healthcare field once again stands out with the promising career prospects of cardiovascular technicians. These professionals operate side-by-side with doctors in the most important health matters of the heart.

What do they do?

Cardiovascular technicians are assistants to doctors in the process of diagnosing and treating patients’ problems with their hearts and blood vessels. They are often the front line between doctors and patients with duties including but not limited to:

  • Reviewing patient files and documentation
  • Monitoring patients’ heart rates and other vitals
  • Operating, sterilizing, and sometimes maintaining equipment
  • Communicating test procedures to patients

Within the cardiovascular technician track, there are multiple areas in which you can specialize. Depending on preference, technicians may choose to focus in invasive cardiology, vascular technology, electrocardiograms, and more.

What’s in it for me?

In addition to the reward that comes with helping to save people’s lives on a daily basis, cardiovascular technicians enjoy these extra motivators:

  • An average annual salary of $53,990
  • A booming job market set to expand by 30% by 2022

As the average age of the U.S. population continues to increase, even more emphasis will be put on emerging cardiovascular technologies to ease the burden on aging hearts. That means that the technicians with the know-how to operate these technologies will have excellent job prospects for years to come.

How can I become a cardiovascular technician?

This is another surprisingly easy job to get, with many employers requiring just an associate’s degree in cardiovascular technology. These can be achieved in under two years, with the student learning about critical topics like:

  • Pharmacology
  • Ultrasounds and instrumentation
  • Electrocardiography

Once coursework has been completed in an accredited program, most job-seekers move on to clinical experience to round off their preparation to enter the field. This involves working with experienced personnel and doctors in a hospital, doctor’s office, or laboratory. If a candidate wishes to maximize their earning potential, certification is available as well.

Working Smarter, Not Harder

Locking yourself into a four-year degree isn’t the only path to a high-paying job, and in some cases it’s downright inadvisable. There is a wealth of options for those whose circumstances or desires don’t line up with the traditional four-year plan.

Luckily, multiple fields offer opportunities for people who want to jump-start satisfying careers in their industry of choice. Fields that seem intimidating to many, like healthcare and the legal industry, really do have openings for those who are interested in pursuing time and cost-effective education and training programs.

The secret to getting a high-paying career with ease is to find a field with the right fit for you. Then pursue the training you need for the stability and happiness you’ve always wanted.

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