U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics released this week showed that nuclear power plant operators are the highest paying jobs in the country among jobs that do not require a college degree, but the number of openings expected through 2024 are sparse compared to other jobs.
While nuclear plant operators make less than air traffic controllers, averaging $91,000 per year against an average of $122,000, air traffic controllers are generally required to have a two-year Associate's Degree, while plant operators are not, according to a WCPO report.
The estimated number of job openings is sharply different, as well. There are 7,000 air traffic controller job openings expected through 2024, while only 2,600 openings for nuclear plant operators are expected in the same time period.
Transportation controllers, ($89,000 on average; 27,000 openings expected), law enforcement supervisors ($84,000 with 43,000 openings expected) and power company technicians ($81,000 with 3,900 openings expected) rounded out the top five.
That said, a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute found a growing disparity between college graduates and non-graduates with college grads earning 56 percent more than non-grads in 2015, an increase from 51 percent in 1999. Overall, the study said, it still pays to continue with school.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median weekly earnings drop consistently as school completion tails off with the exception of professional degrees, which earn $1,745 weekly, compared to $1,664 for those with doctoral degrees. After that, those with a Master's degree earn a median weekly salary of $1,745; a Bachelor's degree $1,156; an Associate's degree $819, some college with no degree $756, high school diploma $692 and no high school diploma $504, according to the bureau.
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It would be interesting to also include technical schools in this comparison. They provide skilled training such as the power company technicians listed above.