The top 5 jobs in Utah for those without a bachelor’s degree

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SALT LAKE CITY – FOX 13 News took a look at the best employment opportunities in Utah for those without bachelor's degrees and compiled a list of the top five jobs.

Officials with the Utah Department of Workforce Services helped create the list, which is based on each jobs' wages, stability and growth potential.

No. 5 is work as a rotary drill operator in the oil and gas fields. Those in that job can start at about $24 an hour and have an annual income of almost $50,000. The median wage for the position is $28 an hour. Caleb Nelson is an operator at Anadarko, and he said the job is a good fit for him.

"No one in my family works in the oil fields at all,” he said. “I'm the first one, and it's just something… college didn't interest me at all, and this interests me, and they're well-paying jobs, so I went with it."

Dental Hygienists take the No. 4 spot, and those who start in that field can expect to make about $28 an hour or an annual income of $58,240. The median wage for the field is $33 an hour, which amounts to annual income of $68,640 for a full-time employee.

“If you go and you look, you'll see that dental hygiene is not only ranked as one of the top professions, but it's one of those that's projected to grow for the next ten to 15 years,” said Brent Molen of the Utah College of Dental Hygiene.

The Utah College of Dental Hygiene only offers bachelor's degrees, but there are other schools that offer associates degree programs.

The third spot on the list goes to the transportation industry. Those starting in the industry can expect to make about $28 an hour, about $58,240 a year, with a median wage of $37 an hour, or $76,960 a year.

The second spot on the list goes to workers in the electrical field, who can count on a starting wage of about $30 an hour or $62,400 each year. The median wage is $36 an hour or $74,880 each year.

Tim Cardon is an apprentice with Rocky Mountain Power, and he said he prefers this work to his previous job as a junior accountant.

He said it’s a job that requires expertise: "There's just a lot to learn. You've got to make sure you understand how the electricity works and where it's going and why it's going there."

And the best job in Utah for those without a college degree according to the figures from the Department of Workforce Services is: air traffic controller.

In the past 12 months, more than 20 million passengers passed through Salt Lake International Airport, and they were shepherded through by a small army of air traffic controllers. Those who take the job must be U.S. Citizens who began their training before their 31st birthday, and they must pass a medical exam and a background check. They must also have work experience.

Air traffic controllers start out at about $40 an hour, or $83,200 each year. The median wage is $56 an hour with an annual income of about $116,480.

FOX 13 News' Bob Evans has a more in-depth look at the list, see the videos above for his two-part report.


  • Katie Welsh

    I absolutely demand that Fox News get it’s facts straight and do a new story. Dental Hygiene requires a college education. In fact most programs are a 4 year program. We are required to take multiple board and licensure exams prior to practicing our profession. Our education requirements are nearly identical to a nursing degree. Would you ever do a report in nursing being a great job with ‘no degree’ required? NO!

    If this report was based off of an old report done on The View please not they retracted their statement, apologized and corrected it. And you should do the same Fox News! Shame on you for not doing your research and undermining our profession! Your first clue that it required a college degree should have been that you had to go to a college to get the interview!!!

    • tamaries

      I agree. And also, these reports are dated, dental hygienists are beginning to saturate the market. My sister is a graduate of the SLCC RN program and she is dealing with the same issue.

    • jake

      Kate, this article is titled “top 5 jobs in Utah for those without a BACHELORS degree.” When referring to hygienists, it states that the school in question only offers Bachelors degrees, but there are other schools that offer Associates degrees. Fox 13 is in no way claiming or inciting that an education is not required, which is made very clear by the title and text of this article. It seems that it is YOU that failed to do the research.

  • Macquel

    I agree. It seems as if the erroneous story on The View a few years back is still haunting our profession. If a national network and a nationally syndicated television show can’t seem to get their facts straight then it’s no wonder Fox News can’t.

  • Jordan Meyer

    On behalf of dental hygienists every where I firmly stand in my position that not only do dental hygienists need a degree, but it is one of the more harder degrees out there to obtain. I did not spend hours watching my wife study till exhaustion for a news station to disrespect the work she put in. I would like to know where it was that the information was received about this article so that I can view it for myself since I know it is not true. Brent Molen, the head of the COLLEGE of Dental Hygeine, was used to twist the story in an unfair way to his lively hood and profession. The videos shown during the broadcast were used not in the true manor, but in the manor that best fit the news station to incorrectly given a report. Having my wife study under him at his school I can attest to the hours of licensing, and work that goes into graduating from his program with a Bachelors Degree, and have the Degree hanging on the wall in our home. After hearing these comments I hope I consideration of recantation will be considered, or at least a posting of the credentials so the viewers can verify the validity of the source used.

  • amandatatton

    Haha^^^ i was thinking the same thing when I read the article. Dental hygeinists DO NEED a degree! Maybe the author is confusing hygeinists and assistants. Dental assistants have the option of going to school but it is not a requirement. For that reason, they get paid significantly less than a hygienist, who is required to go to college. Can you imagine someone being able to give injections without an education? Oops, sorry your face is numb for life! Oh well, who needs facial muscle function anyway?!

  • Brent Molen, RDH, MA Ed. College President

    Jordan, you are correct. When the news station representative called they stated that they wanted to do a story on how dental hygiene made a list (#4) as one of the top jobs. I agreed to help them with the story assuming it was a follow up to an article in March of this year published by US News and World Report about how dental hygiene was in the top 10 ranking of Health Care Jobs. I spent over an hour with the individuals from Fox News and I was very clear that we are a college that is unique in all of Utah as we offer an accelerated Bachelors’ Degree in only 20 months. I also explained that students have to complete 33 hours of college level coursework before they can even be admitted into the program (just like nursing, physical therapy, and other medical based professions). My only guess as to how they messed this up so bad is that they mixed up their information with what was broadcast on the show The View about a year ago where the employment expert erroneously stated that dental hygiene is not a profession that needed a degree. I cringed to think that millions of viewers who watched that nationally syndicated show and turned off the television that day thinking that dental hygiene was a profession that did not require a college degree. I think that the person who put this story together may have wanted to get a great “sound bite” lead in that would get more viewers to tune into the news. I can attest to the hard work and intelligence of every dental hygiene student and graduate. They are dedicated professionals who compete with some of the brightest students found on any college campus. It is so sad that the news outlets of today do not seem to care if they get their facts straight. A few years ago during the annual Give Kids A Smile charity and volunteer event held at the Utah College of Dental Hygiene the news crew that showed up that day reported that all of the dental hygiene students were dentists in training and that the college was a dental school! I think I am going to step away from news stations for a few years after this experience.

  • ayd

    With regards to TOP Jobs without a degree, I would like to say that your fact checker must have fallen asleep on the job! You point out in your story that dentist hygienist do not require a degree. Here is why I felt is was necessary to comment. Here are the requirements for a dental hygiene student at Weber State University in order to work in the state of Utah. First, the minimum level of education is an associate degree of science, which as you know takes any where from 1-2 yrs to complete, PLUS prerequisites of many science classes such as microbiology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, and science lab classes before getting into the dental hygiene program. Once prerequisites have been completed, it may take 1-3 yrs to get accepted into the program based on GPA, work experience, etc. The dental hygiene program is 2 years. After all the time spent in school, most hygienist get a bachelor of science. Dental hygienist must pass a national written exam, as well as 4 regional written and clinical exams (including local anesthesia) in order to become licensed in the state of Utah. So to make channel 13 and their viewers aware that you can not simply come out of high school and go into dental hygiene without first getting a higher education,.

  • Kara

    Glad to see they have updated the article without making a statement that they were wrong stating that dental hygienists don’t need a degree…. Way to go, Fox News.

  • Katie Welsh

    Was that edit really an attempt to correct your info? Come on Fox News. Admit you didn’t check your facts and take our profession off of your list! Many nursing programs are associate programs as well and that isn’t listed. This was a weak attempt to correct your story.

  • Shocked RDH

    In case anyone was wondering, this article has been edited from the original.

    The original title was “The top 5 jobs in Utah for those without a college degree.” Don’t believe me? Check the URL to this page.

    The words that started the original article stated “Salt Lake City- Fox 13 News took a look at the best employment opportunities in Utah for those without college degrees and compiled a list of the top five jobs.”

    Last time I checked, an associates degree is a degree. Dental Hygienists need an associates degree at minimum to practice.

    Second, the videos in this article were posted a complete day after this article published. Just enough time to fix their information to make them look like they had their facts straight all along.

    Not to mention the rest of the jobs in this article require no degree but dental hygiene does? Obviously they intended to include dental hygiene as part of the “no degree” group originally, until they realized their mistake. Now Fox News is just trying to cover their tracks instead of stating they were wrong.

  • Casey

    As a commercial electrician it takes a minimum of four years of classes at a college accredited through the state to take the tests to become a journeyman. And classes every two years to keep the license as well.

  • Jeffrey Liu

    You need to have at least an associate’s degree. Admissions to dental hygiene schools is actually highly competitive.
    This infographic just came out, showing that you need to go through an average of 2,910 clock hours of curriculum and 684 hours of clinical dental hygiene instruction. See here:
    The profession is not comparable to the other ones as it’s much more competitive!

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