PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Although 1.6 million students will graduate from college this spring, let’s face it — college is not for everyone. That being said, there is still a lot of money one can make without a four-year degree.

“After about two years of college, I decided that it was silly to go to college to be an engineer, when what I really wanted to do was to work with my hands,” Steven Rogers said.

That’s a growing refrain from a lot of young people, who see training in a specific skill as a faster route to a satisfying job.

Rather than rack up a lot of student debt, some just want to get on with their life.

“I only had to be in school for a year, as opposed to four. I was able to get out right away and start making money,” Jake Hrip said.

Hrip now works for Metro Heating and Cooling, but he was trained at the Pittsburgh Technical Institute under an HVAC program designed by Robert Rossell.

“They learn a little bit about everything about the heating, air conditioning business, from electricity to residential furnaces, air conditioning, commercial furnaces, air conditioning, refrigeration,” Rossell said.

Metro owner, Tom Wessner, says the industry is desperate for trained employees.

“That’s the number one complaint — finding good people,” Wessner said.

Matthew Montell is still training to be an HVAC tech, and he already has a job offer.

“Right now, I have a conditional offer from a federal government agency,” Montell said.

Nursing is another career that does not require a four-year college degree and needs good people.

“We are about 500,000 nurses short of the demand in this country over the next ten years,” Dr. Lynette Jack, of the PTI School Of Nursing, said.

At the American Academy of Culinary Arts, Chef Norman Hart said he can’t fill the demand.

“I don’t have enough. I don’t have enough students,” Hart said.

Hart said he recently met with the executive chef at PNC Park about his program.

“He says, ‘I love it. I love your program. I love what you’re doing. I’ll take ten.’ My senior class, that was like three-quarters of my senior class,” Hart said.

Besides heating and cooling, nursing, and culinary, Money Talk News notes other professions that do not require a four-year college degree.

Some of those careers include:

  • Dental hygienist
  • Web developer
  • Industrial machinery mechanic
  • Paralegal
  • Plumber
  • Telecommunications equipment installer
  • Real estate broker or agent
  • Radiation therapist

This may look like a standard university classroom, but it’s not.

A local apprentice program for the Electricians Union and

When people graduate from a local apprentice program for the Electricians Union, they’re likely to make at least $32 an hour.

If they work hard to become an instrumentation calibration technician – needed in the oil and gas industry – they could earn $100 an hour.

While that’s down the line, new graduates of PTI’s oil and gas electronics program have great starting salaries.

“Graduates could make anywhere between $40,000-$70,000 their first year out,” Jeff Dinkel said.

Technology has transformed the skills needed, says Paul Reinert who runs the electrician apprentice program.

“The old theory years ago was 50 percent head, 50 percent back. It’s probably 90 percent head, 10 percent back right now,” Reinert said.

That also translates into higher pay.


More Local News
More Reports From Jon Delano
Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter

Watch & Listen LIVE