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Finding a good job without a college degree used to be next-to-impossible, but in today’s ever-changing world, a college education is hard to afford and often times, even harder to justify.

According to the Department of Education, the average in-state tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities nationwide rose 8.3 percent to $8,244 this academic year versus last year, the College Board reported in its annual survey of the cost of higher education.

And that doesn’t even factor in the cost of the weekly keggers.

Added to this equation is the sad news that even college grads with masters and doctorates are finding it difficult to land jobs that are not in a drive-thru.

So what should you do if you can’t afford a four-year degree and you’re ready for a career?

Lucky for you, there are positions that will enable you to live and enjoy your life without having to join a fraternity. Many of these positions involve some training - but all offer a good salary and potential for significant income and employment growth.

At the top of the list: dental hygienists.

Darcy Rogers, a registered dental hygienist in San Diego, enrolled in to Mesa College’s RDA Program, to study for the Dental Assisting National Board. This program, also offered at Palomar College. teaches you to become a certified dental assistant and/or a California registered dental assistant.

“I didn’t go to a four-year college, but I’m making more money than my friends that went off to school,” Rogers said.

If you get freaked out by even making a dental appointment, you might need to go in another direction.

Studies show that commercial airline pilots, nuclear power plant operators, and landscape architects can pull in some big bucks without a bachelor’s degree too.

A recent New York Times article showed that personal trainers are still in hot demand. The newspaper reported that, “In a country with a 35.7 percent obesity rate, potential customers are plentiful, at least in theory.”

This certification is not very difficult to obtain and is relatively cheap compared to any other type of trade school. To be successful in this line of work you will most likely want to be a very physically active person yourself, as well as have a passion for this line of work. If you love the newest trends in fitness, and spend lots of time in the gym already, this could be the perfect career option for you, but beware: there are a lot of trainers and fit people in Southern California.

John Myers was a personal trainer in San Diego and struggled to make ends meet for six years. When he moved to Washington D.C. to be closer to family, he found his phone ringing off the hook with clients.

“I had no idea that I could do so well here as a trainer,” he said. “If I did, I would have moved a lot sooner.”

Yes, yes, all of these careers may still require other forms of education and certain job skills, but considering a weak job market, and the possibility of high levels of student debt post-college, opting out of higher education doesn’t always spell financial doom, although it might spell ‘paycheck.’

Here are 10 great jobs that don’t require a four-year degree — U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012.

— Dental Hygienist

Average Starting Salary: $45,000

Income Growth: 109%

Employment Growth: 37.70%

— Online Advertising Manager

Average Starting Salary: $40,000

Income Growth: 255%

Employment Growth: 25.00%

— Web Developer

Average Starting Salary: $43,000

Income Growth: 179%

Employment Growth: 21.70%

— Medical Secretary

Average Starting Salary: $21,000

Income Growth: 114%

Employment Growth: 41.30%

— Paralegal Assistant

Average Starting Salary: $29,000

Income Growth: 159%

Employment Growth: 18.30%

— Stenographer/Court Reporter

Average Starting Salary: $26,000

Income Growth: 250%

Employment Growth: 14.10%

— Heating/Refrigeration Mechanic

Average Starting Salary: $26,000

Income Growth: 158%

Employment Growth: 33.70%

— Surveyor

Average Starting Salary: $31,000

Income Growth: 190%

Employment Growth: 25.40%

— Executive Assistant

Average Starting Salary: $29,000

Income Growth: 131%

Employment Growth: 12.60%

— Insurance Agent

Average Starting Salary: $26,000

Income Growth: 342%

Employment Growth: 21.90 %

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