best vocational degrees

What are the Best Vocational Degrees and Careers for the 2020s?


The best vocational degrees can help you kickstart a high-paying career. Typically, it takes two years or less to get your degree at a vocational or trade school. After you qualify, you could start a fantastic career in healthcare, IT, construction, or providing specialized services. Workers in some of the best vocational careers take home salaries between $60,000 and $100,000 annually.

Most people assume that to be a nurse, medical assistant, paralegal, or accountant requires a college degree. However, vocational degrees can train you for a lucrative career in many industries. Getting hands-on training in real-life situations is one of the best learning methods. That is why vocational careers and trade jobs are becoming popular.

If you are considering which career path to take, this article is for you. You will learn about the best vocational degrees and the highest paying jobs that are available. Also, you will find out about the vocational careers with the best future job prospects.

What is a Vocational Career?

Vocational careers are jobs in industries where employees get hands-on learning at a trade school. Typically, getting a vocational degree involves some classroom learning. But most of the professional training comes from working on the job. Trade schools train students in industries that have fantastic growth potential and careers that are in high demand.

Why Choose a Vocational Degree?

Vocational degrees allow you to achieve career goals to become a highly skilled and in-demand employee. Typically, it takes two years to earn a vocational degree — half the time of a standard bachelor’s degree. And at a fraction of the price. Graduates with the best vocational degrees tend to find employment faster and have better job prospects.

If you are looking for job stability, excellent pay, and doing something you love, then a vocational career may be your answer.

Related reading: Six benefits of vocational school.

The Best Vocational Degrees and Careers

Jobs in vocational careers are some of the fastest-growing jobs in the 2020s. Demand due to changing technologies, greater emphasis on health care, and skilled workers means that many of the best vocational degrees are useful for the future.

Here is a list of the best vocational careers to choose from. For each profession, you will find information about what you can expect to make. You’ll also find statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on career prospects between 2020 and 2029.

1. Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational therapy assistants earn a good living after getting a vocational degree. They assist people with mobility issues to help regain skills needed for everyday living. It takes two years at vocational school to get the appropriate degree. This rewarding vocational career is for people who are compassionate, adaptable and have good strength.

Average salary: $59,200

Job outlook: 32% — much faster than average

2. Dental Hygienist

One of the best vocational degrees is working as a dental hygienist. To find work as a dental hygienist, you need a two- or three-year associate’s degree from a community college or vocational school. Dental hygienists provide oral care that includes cleaning, checking for signs of disease, and oral hygiene. Many dental hygienists go on to study for a bachelor’s degree to become dentists.

Average salary: $76,220

Job outlook: 6% — faster than average

3. Radiologic and MRI Technologist

A radiologic technologist is a vocational career that requires an associate’s degree. Radiologic technologists operate MRI scanners that help doctors diagnose illnesses. MRI technologists take X-rays, assist patients, and record patient history. Radiologic technologists are vital members of medical teams.

Average salary: $73,410

Job outlook: 9% — much faster than average

4. Elevator Mechanic

Working as an elevator mechanic is an excellent vocational career because it will always be in demand. To start a high-paying job, you only need a high-school diploma and get hands-on training as an apprentice. Elevator mechanics install, repair, and maintain elevators, moving walkways, escalators, and lifts. To get a career in this industry, you need to be physically fit and not afraid to work in enclosed spaces.

Average salary: $85,000

Job outlook: 10% — much faster than average

5. Web Developer

One of the best vocational degrees is to qualify as a professional web developer. With the rise in online technology, the demand for IT-related jobs is tremendous. Web developers design, create, and maintain websites. They also optimize website performance and create audio and video for websites. Many web developers are self-employed, and it’s a career you can enjoy working from home. The highest-paid web designers earn upward of $140,000.

Average salary: $73,760

Job outlook: 8% — faster than average

6. Financial Manager

You can start a vocational career as a financial manager with a two-year associate’s degree in business or management. Typically, you need a bachelor’s degree to earn top dollar as a financial manager. However, many working in finance get high-paying, entry-level positions with a vocational degree. There are also several fields and industries where financial advice is necessary.

Average salary: $76,720

Job outlook: 11% — much faster than average

It’s good to note that with three to five years working on the job, you could be earning over $120,000.

7. Electrician

A vocational career as an electrician is safe because of the wide range of available jobs. Electricians can learn their trade at a vocational school or get a job as an apprenticeship. Electricians work with electrical contractors, are self-employed, or work in-house. Tasks include installing and maintain electrical systems, repairing electrical lines, and resolving safety issues.

After a few years’ experience on the job, you can go back to college to earn a bachelor’s degree to become an electrical engineer. Electrical engineers make double what electricians earn

Average salary: $56,900

Job outlook: 11% — much faster than average

8. Paralegal and Legal Assistant

Being a paralegal is an excellent vocational career due to high earnings and an excellent job outlook. Legal assistants work in law offices and assist attorneys with filing, research, correspondence, and court work. You need a two-year associate’s degree along with on-the-job training.

Average salary: $52,000

Job outlook: 10% — much faster than average

The Best Vocational Degrees: Key Takeaways

The best vocational degrees can allow you to enjoy a high-paying career in a job you love. Getting a degree from a trade school only takes two years. So, you can complete your professional education faster than at a traditional college. In many cases, the best vocational careers pay just as well as jobs that require a bachelor’s degree.

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