5 High-Growth, High-Pay (and Awesome) Careers After Community College

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The Web has come a long way since these were in style.

The Web has come a long way since these were in style.

Wondering which career a community college degree could lead to? Or, better yet, wondering which high-paying career it could lead to? Let Diane show you the way.


Median Salary: $66,178

This is one hot field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections, the Registered Nursing workforce is the top occupation in terms of job growth through 2020. The report goes on to state that between now and 2020 there will be an additional 1.2 million job openings for registered nursing!

Earning an associate’s degree in nursing qualifies you to take the NCLEX examination—the test you take to earn your professional nursing license. So, 2 years of schooling plus a passing score on a test equals entrance to a high-paying field that is begging for new-hires; it’s hard to find a more promising career path.


Median Salary:  $71,223

“Radiation therapists” is a just a fancy way of calling someone a tumor fighter. They are trained in the art of using radiation and other treatments to treat patients suffering from tumors (most commonly cancer). They get to use some pretty wicked, cutting-edge technology—all while saving lives.

Becoming a radiation therapist is similar to becoming a nurse: You’ll need a 2-year degree plus a certification from the ARRT (American Registry of Radiologic Technologists) to get started. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for radiation therapists is expected to grow by 20 percent between 2010 and 2020.


Median Salary: $80,686

In the early days of the Internet, this poor guy is what most people thought of when they heard the words “developer” or “programmer.” We all know the stereotype: an overweight, anti-social nerd that sat in his basement all day typing code into a computer screen in some Matrix-esque fashion.

Those days are over—or at least they should be,.

Web developers are now officially rock stars. They look less like the scary man in the basement and more like this. Or like this.

Today’s Web developers start industry-changing companies from home. Young, enthusiastic Web programmers with little to no formal training started companies such as Facebook, Google, UBER, and Mint.com. And today, Web companies hire promising Web developers in droves.

How does someone become a Web developer? There are a number of paths. You could get an associate’s in Computer Science while simultaneously teaching yourself a programming language (i.e., Ruby, Java, PHP) on the side. You could also take advantage of a number of free online programming resources like Code Academy or Mozilla’s HTML/CSS resource Thimble.

If you choose to pursue a career in Web development, the possibilities are truly endless.


Median Salary: $62,048

Another lovely gem in the healthcare field is the job of a dental hygienist. Similar to the other jobs we’ve discussed, becoming a dental hygienist requires a 2-year degree and the successful completion of the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination.

You’ll work in a dentist’s office cleaning teeth, fighting gingivitis, wiping away tears from people terrified of dentists, and generally making people feel as though they just entered a toothpaste commercial. The cherry on top is the fact that job growth is expected to grow a whopping 38% in the next 10 years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Median Salary: $47,139

Love law? Hate the idea of spending the next 10 years in school? Becoming a paralegal may be a great option for you.

You’ll need an AA, but no certification is required to start in this field. The job outlook is promising at 18% growth over the next 10 years.

Want to check out job outlook for your intended? Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook to get the scoop on average pay, job growth, and job requirements!

(Photo: eurleif/Flickr)

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