6 well-paying jobs that don't require a 4-year degree

Ever notice that most career advice is aimed at the college student or graduate? But let's face it, not everyone can or should get a four-year degree. I recently volunteered at a job fair where I reviewed resumes for job seekers. I was struck by the number of people who felt their best shot was to go back to school to get a bachelor's or master's degree.

Truth is, there are great well-paying jobs available that don't require a college diploma. Many employers are begging in areas such as the skilled trades, health care, and food and hospitality industries. Note, however, that these jobs do require training beyond high school; many demand a license or certification, and some require an apprenticeship or on-the-job experience.

Many people, even with a four-year college degree, make between $38,000 and $50,000 a year, depending on location. Here is a list of some careers that provide that income or better, don't require a four-year degree and will be around for years to come. A quick search of the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and other resources will give you updated information for all states.

Here are some examples:

-- Electrician: Requires training beyond high school at a technical/vocational school or community college. Must pass licensing exam. Average annual income: $37,900 to $40,000.

-- Respiratory therapist:-- Must have a minimum of an associate degree. Average annual income: $54,280.

-- Plumber: Requires training beyond high school at a technical/vocational school or community college. Must be licensed and complete an apprentice program. Average annual income: $43,000.

-- Heating, air-conditioning and refrigerator mechanic and installer: Requires passing two exams and earning a license. Average annual income: $40,000.

-- Sous chef: Usually requires at least some culinary arts training in a college or technical/vocational school as well as hands-on experience. Average annual income: $40,000 to $49,000, depending on duties and location.

-- Paralegal: Requires graduation from an accredited American Bar Association-approved institution (many community colleges are on that list) and certification. Average annual income: mid-$40,000s to high $50,000s, depending on location and experience.

The best way to find these and other jobs is to tell everyone you know that you're searching for a job. That includes family, relatives, teachers if you're still in school or former teachers if you've graduated.

Once you've completed the necessary training and licensing, consider using social networking sites. If there are professional or trade associations in your field, join them and make contacts through the members.

(Marie Stempinski is president and founder of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. Contact her at sstratcomm@cs.com.)

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service)

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