By | Morgan Smith | www.cnbc.com
College enrollment in the United States is now down 6.5% compared with 2019 — the largest two-year drop we’ve seen in the last 50 years, according to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. A growing number of students are opting out of bachelor’s degree programs due to rising costs as well as the economic and health implications of the coronavirus pandemic.
If you decide not to attend college and are exploring career paths that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, there are several unique, high-paying jobs you can consider. Bureau of Labor Statistics Division Chief Michael Wolf tells CNBC Make It that although jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree are growing at a faster rate than those that don’t, the pandemic has interrupted this trend.
“A lot of workers have quit or switched jobs because of the pandemic, leaving a lot of vacant positions, so employers can’t be as choosy about who they hire,” he says. “We see more companies hiring people without the educational levels they usually look for, just because they’re so desperate to find workers.”
The highest-paid occupations that don’t require a bachelor’s degree tend to be very specialized, technical roles that include extensive job training, such as air traffic controllers. Wolf calls these jobs “exceptions to the general trend” as most roles that don’t look for college graduates are in the lower-paying service and retail sectors.
The higher-paying roles tend to require a high school diploma, an associate’s degree or a postsecondary nondegree award. A postsecondary nondegree program is a course usually completed in under two years that teaches you the specific skills or knowledge needed for a job, Wolf says.