Careers That Pay Much Higher Than Minimum Wage Without A Bachelor's

High-pay Jobs, No Bachelor's Needed

Think you're doomed to a minimum wage career because you don't have a bachelor's degree? Think again.

By Terence Loose

Recently, the President made headlines with his slogan, "It's time to give America a raise." He's talking about raising the federal minimum wage, and many think it's a good idea, while others think it's a sure way to kill jobs.

Beyond the politics, if you're working for the current federal minimum wage - $7.25 per hour - you're probably in dire need of higher pay. Why? Because at that rate, you could work a 40-hour week for a year and only make $15,080 for 52 weeks of labor.

Oh, yeah, you'll definitely need a raise. But perhaps you don't have the time or lifestyle that will allow you to earn a bachelor's degree. Not a problem. Because there are plenty of jobs that pay triple the minimum wage ($21.75 an hour or more) and don't require a bachelor's degree. Read on to get the lowdown on seven of them.

Career #1: Computer User Support Specialist

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Median Hourly Wage*
$22.41
Median Annual Salary*
$46,620

Ready to pursue a career that could help you work towards better financial stability, but doesn't demand years of schooling to do it? If you have the desire to help people understand technology, too, then computer user support specialist could be the right role for you.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, these specialists provide technical assistance to computer users, answering questions or resolving problems in person, over the telephone, or electronically.

Schooling Needed: If you're not interested in being stuck in school forever, how about a degree that could be completed in as little as two years? According to the Department of Labor, computer user support specialist jobs require some computer knowledge, but not necessarily a post-secondary degree. More technical positions are likely to require a degree in a field such as computer science, information science, or engineering.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

Why It Pays: "Businesses in every sector of the economy rely heavily on efficiently running computer systems, so they need a vast array of computer specialists to support their networks. It's often the difference between success and failure, so these workers are in demand and get paid accordingly," says Nicole Williams, a career expert for LinkedIn.

Career #3: Police Officer

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Median Hourly Wage*
$26.99
Median Annual Salary*
$56,130

As a police officer, you could keep the streets safe while earning good pay for your hard work. Police officers patrol areas, respond to calls from citizens, and of course enforce the law, says the U.S. Department of Labor. They also arrest suspects, prepare cases for court, and testify.

Schooling Needed: Rather get street smart than school smart? Depending on where you apply, that might not be a problem. Police officers must have at least a high school diploma or GED and graduate from their agency's training academy, notes the Department of Labor. Additionally, many agencies and police departments may also require some college coursework or a degree.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Criminal Justice Program.

Why It Pays: "Police officers are asked to potentially risk their lives to protect the rest of us, often in less than ideal weather or other conditions. For that, they get and deserve to be paid pretty well," says Williams. She says they also must think quickly and deal with people in very stressful situations, which takes many unique skills and is another reason for their relatively high pay.

Career #4: Web Developer

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Median Hourly Wage*
$30.37
Median Annual Salary*
$63,160

When you surf the web, do you feel inspired to create your own websites? Well, that job could be more within reach than you think. Web developers design and build websites for all sorts of clients, says the U.S. Department of Labor. They are responsible not only for the look of the website, but its functionality.

Schooling Needed: The bad news: You'll need to do more than just spend 12 hours a day on the internet to land this job. The good news: You don't necessarily need a bachelor's, either. The Department of Labor says that web developers typically have an associate's degree in web design or a related field, along with knowledge of programming and graphic design.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Programming & Software Program.

Why It Pays: "Social media may be what everyone is talking about, but every business still needs a good website," says Susan Heathfield, a management consultant and author of About.com's Guide to Human Resources. Web developers get paid well, because companies are in a constant pattern of updating and enhancing their existing websites. "People who specialize in this will never be out of business," she says.

Career #5: Registered Nurse

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Median Hourly Wage*
$31.84
Median Annual Salary*
$66,220

If you've ever been sick or injured and needed the care of a nurse, you won't balk at the fact that registered nurses earn more than quadruple the minimum wage.

Nurses work in a wide variety of areas, from small clinics to large hospitals, says the U.S. Department of Labor. They do everything from administering medicines and treatments to teaching patients and their families how to manage illness or injury.

Schooling Needed: You can pursue this highly paid job by taking one of three routes. You can earn either an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing or a diploma from an accredited nursing program, says the Department of Labor. Additionally, registered nurses must be licensed.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.

Why It Pays: "Nursing is a very demanding job that you have to be dedicated to go into. There is no easy nursing job, so it tends to demand good pay," says Deb Hornell, a management consultant with 25 years of experience and author of "Good Things for a Full Life." She says that the doctors and hospitals know that nurses are performing an integral job in the vital field of health care, so their pay reflects that respect.

Career #6: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

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Median Hourly Wage*
$31.93
Median Annual Salary*
$66,410

You don't need to spend long, intensive years in medical school to work in a medical field. Sonographers use special equipment to create images of patients' vital organs and tissue in order to help doctors diagnose disease, or even check on the health or sex of an unborn child, says the U.S. Department of Labor.

Schooling Needed: No M.D.s needed here. According to the Department of Labor, diagnostic medical sonographers need an associate's degree or certificate in sonography. Employers usually prefer applicants with degrees and certificates from accredited institutes.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Sonography Program.

Why It Pays: There are a few reasons that these medical professionals tend to be paid well. First, it takes a unique set of qualities and skills to do this job well, such as a calmness that can put patients at ease during what can be a stressful diagnostic procedure, says Williams. "They also have to be trained to use very expensive, important equipment key to diagnosing many major health conditions," she says.

Career #7: Dental Hygienist

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Median Hourly Wage*
$34.19
Median Annual Salary*
$71,110

Believe it or not, there's a good chance that the person who cleans your teeth every six months (okay, year) makes more than you.

On top of cleaning teeth, the U.S. Department of Labor says dental hygienists check for oral diseases and educate patients about good oral health (that's the part where they tell you you need to floss more).

Schooling Needed: Nope, you don't need to drudge through years upon years of dental school to get on the painless side of the dentist's chair. According to the Department of Labor, dental hygienists usually need an associate's degree in dental hygiene, which could take as little as two years to complete. On top of that, all states require them to be licensed, while other requirements vary.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Program.

Why It Pays: Dental hygiene is a huge, growing field, partly because of the aging population and its emphasis on oral health, says Heathfield. And this occupation often pays per patient serviced, so dental hygienists have the opportunity to earn high pay as their client base grows, she says.

*All wage information from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Employment and Wages data, May 2013.

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