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This story originally appeared on Self Financial.

Over the past 10 years the number of students has decreased. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the total number of students decreased by 8% between 2010 and 2018. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt prospects for higher education and employment, many Americans are considering whether a four-year degree is the best path to a successful career.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with a bachelor's or advanced degree have significantly higher incomes than those without. While the median annual earnings for full-time workers across all levels of education in 2019 was $ 39,810, that for undergraduate graduates was $ 64,896, and the median salary for postgraduate and graduate students was nearly six figures.

Although higher education usually leads to higher salaries, rising costs of education have created a precarious position for many undergraduate graduates. Since 2003, American households' aggregate student loan debt has increased more than 500%.

The total outstanding student loan debt currently stands at a staggering $ 1.54 trillion. The burden of student loan debt, as well as the economic uncertainty of COVID-19, raise the question of whether a lucrative career is possible without a four-year degree. Fortunately, many jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree pay roughly two to three times more than the national median of $ 39,810 per year.

To find the highest-paying jobs that don't require a four-year degree, Self Financial researchers analyzed median wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections Report. The occupations were ranked according to their respective median annual wages for 2019, as reported by the BLS. In order to improve the relevance, jobs with fewer than 20,000 employees in Germany were deleted.

These forecasts are the latest available but were made by the BLS prior to this year. As a reference, the projected employment growth between 2018 and 2028 in all occupations is 5.2%. Here are the highest paying jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree.

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