5 Degrees You Can Earn in Less than 4 Years

**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**

A guest post by Brooke Chaplan

Not everyone is able to spend four years and tons of money to earn a bachelor’s degree. You may be limited by circumstance, finances, family, and many other factors. Some students are tactile, hands-on learners, who may not thrive in a university environment. If you still want to improve you education, but aren’t looking for the traditional route, you may enjoy one of these five degrees.

Electrical Technology
Electricians traditionally complete a two-year degree at a technical school, and then transfer to a sponsored apprenticeship that takes four to five years to complete. During this time, most apprenticeship programs require attendees to take continuing education courses related to safety, regulations, and specific products or techniques. Students who study electrical technology will learn advanced math, electrical theories, code requirements, and first-aid practices. Apprenticeships are available through local unions, contractor associations, and state employment agencies.

Dental Hygienist
Dental hygiene is an excellent entry-level health care job that only requires a two-year degree and advanced training. In fact, some programs only require two years’ worth of related college coursework without an actual degree. The work environment is relaxed, the hiring outlook positive and the income levels good. Dental hygiene is considered an excellent academic choice for students starting their career over, and almost all states require dental hygienists to pass regional and national board exams to obtain the proper licensure.

Most companies hire paralegals fresh out of college with a program diploma, or those with extensive legal experience. Paralegals are attorney assistants who perform in-depth research, investigate facts, and prepare legal documents. Paralegal diploma programs often take one year to complete and will teach students how to properly conduct legal research, formulate defenses, and initiate legal actions. The median pay for paralegals is excellent and the work environment is intense, yet very professional.

Web Development
Web developers rarely have a formal degree. Instead, they have thousands of hours of personal time invested in creating, analyzing, and developing websites. Web developer programs take one to two years to complete and teach students how to analyze user needs, create content, and modify the performance of websites. Some also learn how to integrate websites with other software programs or convert audio and video elements between different standards.

Occupational safety degrees and emergency management programs are becoming more popular as employees, the government, and the public in general realize the benefits of safety planning and emergency response. For example, state safety programs need their own OSHA inspectors to ensure the occupational well-being of workers. Emergency management is a growing profession because the need for public safety professionals is rapidly increasing.

Human Resources
Another option for students who want to quickly complete their degree is human resources. Many HR professionals start out their career with only college coursework and industry standard certification.


Going to college isn’t for everyone, but furthering your education can be. With these ideas you can still get a degree and more education without sacrificing four years of your life.


Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Choose your Reaction!