Qualifications: No four-year degree required

Technicians and assistants are an increasingly large part of the expanding — and
expensive — health care system.

A traditional four-year degree puts up some enticing numbers: According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, in 2008, young adults with bachelor’s degrees were less likely to be unemployed than those with high school diplomas, while they earned 28 percent more than their peers with associate’s degrees.

However, according to “Top 100 Careers Without a Four-Year Degree” co-author Laurence Shatkin — who, it should be noted, pursued a Ph.D. — there are still stable fields for those with less formal education and training.

Skilled labor

While some jobs will continue to be outsourced, others, by design, will have to stay right here in the U.S. “There is always going to be a need for skilled workers such as plumbers, electricians and construction workers. You can’t ship these careers overseas — you need to have them here,” says Shatkin.

Health care
While he notes that a four-year degree is still the preferred route for registered nurses, Shatkin identifies ultrasound technicians, medical office assistants and home health care aides as just a few of the positions that require less training and will be in demand. “It’s not so much that they’re new careers, but the workforce has expanded,” he says. “It’s partly that the population is getting older, and partly that there’s new technology and people who will be covered by that. In an attempt to reduce costs, there’s been a shift in responsibilities to lower paid workers.”

Alternative energy
As “green” becomes mainstream, there will be a need for workers at every education level in alternative energy fields. “Every Wal-Mart that gets built now has a green roof,” points out Shatkin, who predicts more opportunities in solar and wind power, hybrid cars and energy auditing.


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