Careers

8 promising industries for workers without a college degree

Worker technician
Erik Isakson | Getty Images

Today, a lot of good jobs require a college degree, which is a big ask for a lot of people at a time when one year of college costs an average of $9,650 at a public university and a whopping $24,930 at a private university.

For those who can't afford that time or money, starting a promising career may seem impossible. As The Wall Street Journal reports, "By 2015, the share of all good jobs that went to non-college graduates fell to 45 percent from 60 percent in 1991—leaving 45 million workers in low-paying, sometimes part-time roles that don't offer a path to the middle class."

But according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, there are well-compensated jobs available for those with a high school degree, some college experience or an associate's degree — about 30 million of them, to be exact.

The research team at Georgetown University defines a good job as one that pays an average of $55,000 per year, with a minimum of $35,000. Many of them are concentrated in a few specific industries.

Here are eight fields that, between 1991 and 2015, added a significant number of good jobs that don't require a college education to the economy at an increasing rate:

8. Government services

Hill Street Studios/Getty Images

Percent growth: 4 percent
Number of jobs added: 70,000
Sample jobs: administrative assistant, dental assistant or recreation assistant

7. Wholesale and retail trade

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Hero Images/Getty Images

Percent growth: 4 percent
Number of jobs added: 130,000
Sample jobs: wholesale and retail buyer and wholesale and manufacturing sales representative

6. Financial and consulting/business services

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Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Percent growth: 35 percent
Number of jobs added: 980,000
Sample jobs: insurance sales agent, financial clerk and bill and account collectors

5. Education services

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Hero Images/Getty Images

Percent growth: 46 percent
Number of jobs added: 260,000
Sample jobs: teacher assistant, preschool teacher and administrative assistant

4. Construction

A contractor guides a steel beam into place while working on the Korean Air Wilshire Grand hotel and office building in downtown Los Angeles.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A contractor guides a steel beam into place while working on the Korean Air Wilshire Grand hotel and office building in downtown Los Angeles.

Percent growth: 56 percent
Number of jobs added: 1,250,000
Sample jobs: boilermaker, electrician and construction laborer

3. Natural resources

A worker prepares to lift drills by pulley to the main floor of a drilling rig in the Permian basin.
Brittany Sowacke | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A worker prepares to lift drills by pulley to the main floor of a drilling rig in the Permian basin.

Percent growth: 61 percent
Number of jobs added: 310,000
Sample jobs: geological and petroleum technician, industrial engineering technician and oil and gas rig operator

2. Leisure, hospitality and personal services

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Hero Images/Getty Images

Percent growth: 67 percent
Number of jobs added: 1,380,000
Sample jobs: receptionist, food service manager and heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics

1. Healthcare services

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BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

Percent growth: 70 percent
Number of jobs added: 1,330,000
Sample jobs: diagnostic medical sonographer, radiation therapist and occupational therapy assistant

While manufacturing and transportation also employ a significant number of people without a bachelor's degree, the number of jobs in these sectors has been steadily declining.

Manufacturing, for example, has seen a 35 percent drop in jobs available from 1991 to 2015. Transportation has seen a decline of 12 percent, according to Georgetown's report.

If you want to secure a job in a high-growth industry without a bachelor's degree, consider getting an associate's degree, which usually takes two years to complete and can be affordable, especially if earned from a public community college.

"The associate's degree is the new high school degree," says Anthony Carnevale, research professor and director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

"In general we as a country are in the process of connecting the post-secondary system to the economy," he says. "Community colleges are the closest to doing that."

Check out 5 high-paying jobs that don't require a college degree

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