20 fast-growing, high-paying jobs where you only need an associate's degree

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20 fast-growing, high-paying jobs where you only need an associate's degree
  • Some jobs typically need an associate's degree, such as respiratory therapists.
  • That occupation makes above the median annual wage and is projected to see 31,100 new jobs from 2020 to 2030.
  • The following are 20 jobs that are projected to grow over the decade, pay at least the median annual wage, and typically require an associate's degree.

20. Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians

20. Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians
Chaosamran_Studio/Shutterstock

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 2,300

Median annual wage in May 2020: $58,230

On-the-job training:None

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19. Radiation therapists

19. Radiation therapists
Mark Kostich/Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 1,600

Median annual wage in May 2020: $86,850

On-the-job training: None

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18. Broadcast technicians

18. Broadcast technicians
Jasmin Merdan/Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 3,200

Median annual wage in May 2020: $43,570

On-the-job training: Short-term on-the-job training

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17. Avionics technicians

17. Avionics technicians
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 2,100

Median annual wage in May 2020: $67,840

On-the-job training: None

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16. Industrial engineering technologists and technicians

16. Industrial engineering technologists and technicians
John Fedele/Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 2,800

Median annual wage in May 2020: $57,320

On-the-job training: None

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15. Chemical technicians

15. Chemical technicians
Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 3,300

Median annual wage in May 2020: $49,820

On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

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14. Environmental science and protection technicians, including health

14. Environmental science and protection technicians, including health
CasarsaGuru/Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 3,600

Median annual wage in May 2020: $46,850

On-the-job training: None

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13. Medical equipment repairers

13. Medical equipment repairers
Arctic-Images/Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 3,900

Median annual wage in May 2020: $51,610

On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

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12. Magnetic resonance imaging technologists

12. Magnetic resonance imaging technologists
Monty Rakusen/Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 3,400

Median annual wage in May 2020: $74,690

On-the-job training: None

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11. All other calibration technologists and technicians and engineering technologists and technicians, except drafters

11. All other calibration technologists and technicians and engineering technologists and technicians, except drafters
Science Photo Library - TEK IMAGE/Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 4,100

Median annual wage in May 2020: $64,190

On-the-job training: None

This is a catchall title that includes calibration technologists and technicians and photonics technicians.

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10. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians

10. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians
andresr/Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 4,700

Median annual wage in May 2020: $59,100

On-the-job training: None

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9. All other life, physical, and social science technicians

9. All other life, physical, and social science technicians
Tom Werner/Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 5,800

Median annual wage in May 2020: $52,460

On-the-job training: None

This is a catchall title that includes quality control analysts and remote sensing technicians.

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8. Computer network support specialists

8. Computer network support specialists
PeopleImages/Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 14,200

Median annual wage in May 2020: $65,450

On-the-job training: None

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7. Occupational therapy assistants

7. Occupational therapy assistants
Terry Vine/Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 15,600

Median annual wage in May 2020: $62,940

On-the-job training: None

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6. Diagnostic medical sonographers

6. Diagnostic medical sonographers
Star Tribune via Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 14,400

Median annual wage in May 2020: $75,920

On-the-job training: None

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5. Radiologic technologists and technicians

5. Radiologic technologists and technicians
Two technicians set up a patient for an MRI scan. BSIP/Universal Images Group/ Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 18,300

Median annual wage in May 2020: $61,900

On-the-job training: None

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4. Dental hygienists

4. Dental hygienists
MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 23,100

Median annual wage in May 2020: $77,090

On-the-job training: None

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3. Respiratory therapists

3. Respiratory therapists
Mary Ann Chastain/AP

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 31,100

Median annual wage in May 2020: $62,810

On-the-job training: None

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2. Physical therapist assistants

2. Physical therapist assistants
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 33,200

Median annual wage in May 2020: $59,770

On-the-job training: None

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1. Paralegals and legal assistants

1. Paralegals and legal assistants
Worawee Meepian/Shutterstock

Projected new jobs between 2020 and 2030: 41,400

Median annual wage in May 2020: $52,920

On-the-job training: None

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How we ranked the above occupations

Some jobs typically need an associate's degree, such as paralegals or physical therapy assistants.

Insider was interested in looking at jobs that not only pay at least the median annual wage but are projected to grow over the decade. To do this, we took the geometric mean of median annual wages in 2020 and projected employment growth from 2020 to 2030. Both of these datasets come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We focused on jobs that are projected to see employment growth over the decade and that pay at least $41,950, or the median annual wage in 2020 per BLS data.

After ranking that list based on the geometric mean, where a higher value meant a higher spot in the ranking, we filtered out jobs so only those that typically need an associate's degree for entry were left. This educational requirements data is also from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The above occupations are all ones that typically require an associate's degree, are projected to see some kind of growth over the decade, and pay at least $41,950.

We also included on-the-job training for each occupation. Many of the 20 jobs above, however, don't require on-the-job training. BLS writes that those that don't need this kind of training mean "there is no additional occupation-specific training or preparation typically required to attain competency in the occupation."

The most recent employment projections use 2020 as the base year, when the pandemic devastated employment across industries in the US. That means the employment projections were also affected.

"Many industries are expected to experience cyclical recoveries in the earlier part of the projections decade as industry output and employment normalize, returning to their long-term growth patterns," BLS wrote in a news release. "Projected robust growth for industries in which employment fell in 2020 also is projected to result in strong growth for the occupations employed by those industries." 

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