LIMA — Workforce development officials in the Lima area have spent a considerable amount of time touting the notion that high school graduates do not need a four-year college degree to secure a well-paying career. Based on a new report from CareerCast.com, this sentiment seems to ring true.
On Tuesday, CareerCast released a report, “Best Jobs Without a Degree in 2017,” which ranked the top careers that do not require a four-year degree. To come up with the rankings, researchers compiled data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This information included median salary, hiring outlook and the recommended level of education required to get started in a particular field.
“I think that, more than anything, it shows that there’s still some great career opportunities if you don’t go to a four-year school, if you don’t end up getting a degree or if you have a degree and are considering shifting gears,” said Kyle Kensing, online content director for CareerCast.
Although job seekers with a four-year college degree make considerably more money than their counterparts with less education — 56 percent more, according to the Economic Policy Institute — there are many career opportunities in thriving industries for workers without this type of higher education.
“You do hear those numbers quite frequently about how much more you make with a four-year degree, and those numbers are statistically accurate, but there’s still really great opportunities, especially in fields you wouldn’t think such as health care,” Kensing said. “It’s also true there are more people entering the workforce with college degrees than ever before right now, but it’s still only about one-third of the working population. So you’re talking about the majority of the workforce who do not have a four-year degree.”
Luckily for job seekers, several of these careers can be found in the Lima region, and most are well-paying, in high demand and have openings for workers who are looking to take the next step in their professional lives.
Ranking the best jobs
Based on annual salary, the top 10 jobs without a four-year degree in Ohio include:
• Diagnostic medical sonographer — $62,870
• Web developer — $59,950
• Respiratory therapist — $54,150
• Plumber — $54,040
• Executive assistant — $52,980
• Electrician — $51,170
• Industrial machine repairer — $48,850
• Paralegal — $48,240
• Medical records technician — $39,000
• Broadcast technician — $37,040
In terms of outlook, which reflects more than 10 percent growth in an industry through 2024, the best jobs include:
• Web developer — 27 percent
• Diagnostic medical sonographer — 24 percent
• Industrial machine repairer — 16 percent
• Medical records technician — 15 percent
• Electrician — 14 percent
• Plumber — 12 percent
• Respiratory therapist — 12 percent
While none of these careers require a four-year degree, most of them have a recommended level of education. Broadcast technicians, diagnostic medical sonographers, respiratory therapists and web developers should have a two-year associate’s degree, while medical records technicians are recommended to have a non-degree certification. The rest of the careers listed require a high school diploma or equivalent.
As noted in the best non-degree jobs list, three of the 10 careers are in the skilled trades professions — electrician, plumber and industrial machine repairer.
In Lima, plumbers, pipefitters, electricians and service technicians have a leg up when it comes to earning the skills necessary to progress and make more money in these professions.
The Lima Area Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee and the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Service Technicians union both offer an extensive training program for a variety of workers, from recent high school graduates to those who are looking for a second career later in life.
Each program is a mix of on-the-job training and classroom work by certified instructors.
“Not only are our apprentices getting a free education, they’re earning while they’re learning,” said Mike Knisley, business manager for the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Service Technicians. “The program has a lot of advantages.”
Many people who complete the five-year programs become independent contractors, allowing them to be their own boss.
“We have quite a few contractors in this area that actually are former electricians that have started a business,” said Marc Pescosolido, the new training director at the Lima Area Electrical JATC. “That’s quite common because they know the business inside and out, and it allows them to be successful.”
Upon successful completion of the program, electricians and plumbers earn their journeyman’s card, which helps them find employment more easily. The card lasts a lifetime and is recognized in all states and in other parts of the world.
Like the skilled trades, three of the 10 best jobs not requiring a bachelor’s degree are in health care: diagnostic medical sonographer, medical records technician and respiratory therapist.
At Lima Memorial Health System, there are a wide variety of careers available to those without an advanced degree. Some of these positions include medical assistants, certified occupational therapists, physical therapy assistants, pharmacy technicians, respiratory therapists and more. However, these positions do require either a two-year associate’s degree or some type of certification.
Denise Kiraly, director of human resources and organizational development at Lima Memorial, said there is a misconception that working at a hospital requires an advanced degree.
“I think a lot of people equate hospital employment with physicians and nurses, but there are many areas within the hospital system that do not require a four-year degree that are critical to the health care arena,” Kiraly said. “You can even have an associate’s degree to become a registered nurse.”
St. Rita’s Medical Center offers most if not all of the same positions as Lima Memorial, along with jobs such as medical lab technicians. Medical lab techs need a two-year degree, but there is also an opportunity to move up if more schooling is obtained.
Jeremy Amstutz, human resources recruiter at St. Rita’s, said he was surprised by the number of jobs that did not require a four-year degree at the hospital.
“I didn’t realize how many more opportunities there were here other than being a doctor or nurse,” Amstutz said. “That’s why, when I go out and talk at high schools and job fairs, I try to get the word out to people that there’s other opportunities to be successful without a four-year degree.”
A quick search of the OhioMeansJobs-Allen County website revealed there are several job openings for careers listed on the CareerCast report, as well as others that pay just as well or better.
Within a 20-mile radius of Lima, there were six respiratory therapist jobs and nine electrician positions. There were also 201 careers that require an associate’s degree, 898 for high school graduates, and 130 for post-secondary or non-degree recipients. A total of 1,243 jobs pay between $30,000 and $79,000, while 149 pay between $80,000 and $99,000.
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.