Good jobs abound for those with college credentials but without a bachelor’s degree

By Erin Eagan

The American job landscape has drastically changed over the last 30 years. While some people are able to land good jobs right after high school, that number is rapidly declining. More and more, good jobs are requiring education and training beyond high school — but that isn’t limited to just those with a bachelor’s degree.

Four-year college isn’t for everyone. Some know this right away, while others try it out and discover it isn’t a good fit. For those that choose an associate degree, technical diploma or certificate, (many of which take 1-2 years or less) as an alternative to a four-year college or university, there are still plenty of good jobs available. In fact, since 1991, jobs that require an associate degree have increased by 83 percent. 

According to the “Good Jobs that Pay without a BA” study by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), there are 30 million good jobs available that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. For this study, good jobs are defined as those in  skilled-services industries with $35,000 as the minimum earnings for those under age 45, and $45,000 as the minimum earnings for workers age 45 and older. In all, these 30 million good jobs have median earnings of $55,000.

Manufacturing and transportation are still the two largest skilled industries that provide good jobs, but that is quickly changing as the number of good jobs in industries such as financial services, IT and health services continue to rise. Employers in these industries are increasingly relying on workers with higher level skills to meet competitive requirements, especially as technology rapidly evolves.  

This fall, look for the complete Good Jobs that Pay without a BA website, including and interactive online database that documents the concentration of these good jobs, nationally, at the state level, by industry and occupation, and by wage.