10 highest paying jobs for community college grads

Kristin Tyndall, senior editorKristin Tyndall, Senior Editor

As students and families focus more on career outcomes, you can find a number of analyses rounding up which majors and jobs lead to high pay and job satisfaction.

However, most of these lists only consider outcomes for bachelor's degree-holders, so I decided to research salary outcomes for associate degree-holders.

To create my list, I used data from the Occupational Outlook Handbook by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). I filtered for jobs the BLS identifies as requiring an associate degree for entry-level positions and filtered for jobs projected to have at least 5,000 openings between 2016 and 2026.

According to my analysis, the highest paying jobs for associate degree holders (and their 2016 median pay) are:

  1. Dental hygienists ($72,910)
  2. Diagnostic medical sonographers ($69,650)
  3. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologists ($68,420)
  4. Web developers ($66,130)
  5. Computer network support specialists ($62,670)
  6. Occupational therapy assistants ($59,010)
  7. Respiratory therapists ($58,670)
  8. Radiologic technologists ($57,450)
  9. Physical therapist assistants ($56,610)
  10. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians ($55,570)

I wasn't surprised to see health care positions taking most of the top spots. Health care professions have dominated U.S. News & World Report's "Best Jobs" lists for years, Rebecca Koenig, U.S. News careers reporter wrote alongside the publication's most recent list. These positions are also attractive to millennial and Gen Z workers seeking long-term stability, experts say.

3 things you'll learn from EAB's health care library

Today, colleges have a unique opportunity to capitalize on recent shifts in the health care industry, writes Carla Hickman, an EAB managing director.

"Health care reform has changed the way that health systems provide care and how patients consume care. Evolving expectations change hospitals’ staffing demands, increasing the need for (allied) health professionals," she writes. Schools can take advantage of these shifts by expanding existing health profession programs or investing in new ones (BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook site, accessed 1/22).

3 long-term opportunities for colleges in health profession programs


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