Best Careers For High School Graduates

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Shorter Version

Est. Reading Time: 2 Minutes

No college diploma? No problem.

As a high school graduate, there are multiple career paths you can pursue. Whether you like to work with people, work with your hands, or are interested in working remotely, the world is at your fingertips and we’re here to guide you.

Things to consider

There are many alternatives to a 4-year degree, and selecting a career is a big decision. When it comes to choosing your profession, it is easy to be influenced by TV and movies, social media, or your parents’/family’s opinion. Keep in mind that others’ opinions and outside factors can have great value in assisting you, but it is important to remember that it is your decision. Though you might feel like you need to have your entire professional life figured out, your biggest priority in choosing your career should be picking the one that is best for you.

What to expect

Finding the right career takes time and patience. This decision should not be rushed, and you will be less stressed in the short-term and significantly happier in the long run if you do your homework in advance.

As you probably know, every industry has different standards and minimum qualifications for new hires. For some roles, a high school diploma alone is satisfactory. For other positions, an apprenticeship, license, or certification might also be required. Either way, almost all industries that do not require a Bachelor’s degree will provide on-the-job training for new employees.

You have options

Where you’d like to go with your career and how far you’d like to take it is up to you. As a high school graduate, you are fortunate to have many career options that are in high demand and pay well. According to Forbes, there are currently 115 occupations recognized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that pay a salary of at least $20/hour and require a high school diploma. Additionally, 70% of these positions mandate “moderate to long-term” training or apprenticeships on the job, while 30% require “short-term or no on-the-job training.”

Careers for High School graduates

U.S. News and World Reports provides a fantastic list of some of the best careers that do not require any formal education past high school. Take a look:

  • Landscaper/groundskeeper
  • Personal care/home health aide
  • Technician
  • Plumber
  • Firefighter
  • Hairdresser
  • Medical assistant
  • Licensed practical nurse and licensed vocational nurse
  • Massage therapist
  • Phlebotomist
  • Physical therapist aide
  • Maintenance and repair worker
  • Nail technician
  • Esthetician
  • Medical records technician
  • Electrician
  • Solar Photovoltaic Installer
  • Dental Assistant
  • Insurance Sales Agent
  • Optician
  • Chef/cook
  • Recreation and fitness worker/instructor
  • And more!*

*Check out even more careers for high school graduates with great lists from CareerBuilder, USAToday, and BusinessInsider

Expert tip: You are in the driver’s seat of mapping out your road to a successful career.

If you don’t have a formal advisor or coach, then it is your responsibility to assume that role. Do your research, assess what is required to pursue the line of work you’re interested in, and talk to professionals in the industry to learn more.

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Actionable Steps


Do some self-reflection and research

Take some time for self-reflection. What are your interests, strengths, and skills? Do you have any hobbies or talents that you could turn into a career? After considering your options, become informed on what type of (if any) technical training or certifications are required to pursue that particular line of work.


Set goals

What do you want to achieve and by when? Set motivating, achievable goals and stick to them.


Be patient, and trust the process

Choosing the best career for you doesn’t happen overnight. You might need to repeat steps 1 and 2 multiple times before figuring it out and that’s encouraged! Stay positive and trust the process.


Seek assistance and ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help – you are not in this alone. Reach out to industry professionals in the areas you’re interested in. You can also consider contacting a career coach.


Read more on this topic

You can learn more about the best careers for high school graduates by reading the following articles, reviewed to be the best by our professionals: 20 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With A High School Diploma, Highest Paying Jobs For High School Graduates, and 20 Jobs You Can Get With A High School Diploma.

About the Author

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Alyssa holds an Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. For the last 7 years, she has coached hundreds of college students on how to be successful academically and in prepping for a job.
Full Bio | LinkedIn

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