high-school graduates

No Degree? No Problem: High-Paying Jobs for High School Graduates

Fast food service crew, dishwashers, factory/construction worker, cashiers. These are among the usual low-paying/minimum wage jobs people often equate to those who managed to graduate high school but didn’t proceed with a college education. Many people believe that these are the go-to jobs they have to settle with since their career options are limited due to their educational attainment.

While there are indeed many jobs with bigger paychecks that require a college degree, there are still myriad of other career options out there for high school graduates that are well over minimum wage and can even sufficiently support a family — if you know where to look. These jobs may require some or no work experience, but training is often mandatory and is done either on-the-job or before starting. That said, here are a few select high-paying jobs in different types of industries for high school diploma holders:

Insurance Sales Agents

If you think you’re a natural-born salesman, but don’t wish to settle with selling and promoting merchandise in malls, then being an insurance sales agent may just be perfect for you. An insurance sales agent is an entry-level job that doesn’t require any work experience and allows you to earn as much as you can, depending on how many deals you close and the types of insurance you’re selling. You also have the option to either operate as an independent sales agent or work under an agency. Additionally, you can choose which type of insurance to sell, some of which are simpler and have more focused target markets — for example,selling final expense insurance to the elderly, or flood insurance to homeowners living in flood-prone neighborhoods. The median annual salary for insurance sales agents is at $49,710 in 2017, but others earn as much as $76,220.

Private Investigators and Detectives

On the other hand, if you pride yourself as a sleuth or someone resourceful, cunning, and logical, you may want to try out an exciting career as a private investigator. Investigators, as the name suggests, gather evidence, compile facts, and investigate crime scenes. Many are hired by private individuals, or by criminal law firms/attorneys. Although having a degree in criminal justice gives you an edge, many private investigator jobs only require a high school diploma and finishing training course and getting a license (in most states). These are among the higher-paying jobs, with detectives earning more than $77,000 annually.

Plumbers and Electricians


Plumbing and electrical maintenance, repairs, and installations will always be in-demand in homes, commercial and public establishments, and practically anywhere that needs electricity and a working toilet and sink. But, as common as they are, plumbers and electricians can earn around $53,000 to $55,000 a year, and require a moderate amount of training and apprenticeship. Plumbers and electricians can also work independently or start their own business after finishing their training and getting a license. There are also career growth opportunities and also the options to get advanced courses and certifications for more job options and higher pay.

Media Equipment Workers

For those who live in areas with large film industries (such as in Los Angeles), you can try your luck applying as a media and communication equipment worker. Although these jobs simply require short-term on-the-job training and a high school diploma, the median annual pay is a whopping $70,950 – among the highest-earning jobs for high school diploma holders. However, the film industry and film work can be very irregular, which is why entertainment-related labor unions secure high minimum pay for media and communication jobs.


These are but a few of many other career options for high school graduates, you just need to do some research and go beyond the usual blue-collar jobs that people often associate to those who didn’t proceed with getting a college degree. If any, these jobs simply show that you don’t need to have a college degree to start a decent and well-earning career.

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