Can't afford four years of college? Consider a STEM job

Given the rising cost of college, one could question whether a four-year degree is worth the $32,410 a year it currently costs on average to attend a private university in the U.S.

If you're looking for a short answer, it's a definitive yes. That's according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which cites data showing that most high-paying jobs require at least a bachelor's degree.

Still, there are a number of jobs requiring skills that can be obtained without having to hit the books for four years, with a growing count of companies creating apprenticeship programs for on the job training. And more Americans are opting for community college, getting an associate's degree or certifications that can lead to employment in the so-called STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering and math.

In a blog post, the Labor Department lists STEM jobs that require less than a bachelor's degree to get started, and also pay close to or above the median for all occupations as of May 2015: $36,200.

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Another way of looking at prospects in STEM fields is by the projected openings.

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And while most STEM jobs require at least an associate's degree to get your foot in the door, surveying and mapping technicians may need only a high school diploma and on the job training, while computer user support specialists often start working with only some college, the agency found.

Those looking for additional help can visit their local American Job Center or call 877-USA-JOBS.