Are you a high school student who doesn’t want to attend a four-year college? Or maybe you are a bright teenager who is about to graduate high school, but you or your family can’t afford to send you to a four-year college. No matter what your reasoning is, if going to a four-year college is out of the question, there is no need to fear for your future financial success.
With the average price of tuition steadily on the rise and the average household income in America stagnate, it should come as no surprise that you can’t afford such an outrageous sum of money for education. However, with a two-year associate’s degree or a technical degree, there is a wealth of incredible high-paying jobs to consider. And with online degrees more accessible than ever, there’s no excuse not to seek at least some form of higher education.
Every year, more and more high school graduates opt-out of attending a traditional four-year college. Over 36 million Americans have attempted to go to college but failed to earn their degree, and you are not alone. Hundreds of careers only require an associate’s degree, a technical degree, or only require a high school diploma. Below you will find a long list of careers and opportunities that better suit the financial needs of someone in your shoes.
The following list is organized in order of salary, starting with the highest possible salary and moving to the lowest. As the average salary decreases, so do the level of opportunity in that field; keep this in mind as you progress down the list.
Air Traffic Controller
Being an air traffic controller is no easy job, it is high stress and high risk, but that is why it can pay up to $120,000 a year. Being an air traffic controller does not require a bachelor’s degree, but does require intensive, long term on-the-job training. If you can handle high-stress situations and you’re looking for a job where you can put away money and retire before you’re seventy, this could be the job for you.
Of course, the medical field seems like an opportunity for guaranteed wealth and prosperity. However, if you’re not able to commit to almost ten years of school and hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition fees, a job in medicine can seem out of reach, or completely impossible.
Radiation Therapists make an average salary over $80,000 a year, which is no doctors’ salary, but it’s certainly nothing to snub your nose at. An Associate’s degree is required, and in many states, an additional license or certification is required as well.
Nuclear Reactor Operator
Now here’s a job that has a high potential for employment, with a yearly average of just above 2,000 applicants a year there is far less competition than one might think for a job which maintains an average salary around $80,000 a year.
With an average salary of just over $77,000, being a commercial pilot is a fantastic opportunity for high school graduates. Extensive training and a license from the Federal Aviation Administration are required to be considered for employment, and with air travel at an all-time high, the job stability in this field is exceptional.
Elevator Installation and Repair
If you love elevators, you’re in luck! However, if you are just someone who is good with your hands and wants to make up to $75,000 a year, this could also be a great opportunity for you. As is the case with most skilled labor jobs, Elevator Technicians typically are required to complete an apprenticeship and earn their license in the state that they wish to be employed.
For whatever reason there seems to be the misconception that you need higher education to start a career in law enforcement, you do not. After you’ve attended the Police Academy- which only requires a high school diploma or GED equivalent to receive admission- then you are an officer. Law enforcement offers high school grads stable careers with full benefits and retirement options.
Requiring just an Associate’s Degree and some on-site training becoming a Dental Hygienist is a great option. With an average salary of over $72,000, there is plenty to smile about for high school graduates looking to go into the dental field. There are numerous careers in the dental field available to high school graduates, dental practice sales, and dental product distribution, to name two.
With an overabundance of job opportunities that show no sign of decreasing becoming a Registered Nurse is an amazing opportunity for high school graduates looking to enter into an Associate’s Degree program. The greatest thing about nursing is how dynamic it is. If you get bored in your nursing field, there are dozens of other practices you could get involved with. The average salary for Registered Nurses in this country lands around $68,000.
There is a vast number of careers in the medical field that don’t require extensive secondary education. Becoming an MRI Tech can earn you around the same average salary as being a Registered Nurse. And like all careers in the medical field, being an MRI Tech is a solid option with extensive hiring opportunities across the country.
It’s no secret that careers in funeral services sound just a tad morbid. But if you are the type of person that can see around the obvious connotations of a career in funeral service and see the comfort and security that you can offer families in grave times of need, then this is a fantastic opportunity for you. With an associate’s degree and some business courses, you could find yourself earning an average salary of over $67,000.
Gaming Manager and Casino Operations
There’s money to be made in casinos, and not just for the players. Careers in casino management can be very lucrative, with an average salary of $65,000 and the simple requirement of a high school diploma. This can be a fun career for people who like the chaos of the casino.
If you have a knack for computer and think you can design efficient websites, then a career in web development could be a good option for you. Technology is the biggest industry in the world right now, and everyone has a website these days, which means that careers and opportunities for web developers are at an all-time high right now. The median income for web developers is over $62,000.
If you are mechanically inclined and are excited by the prospect of building new aircraft, then a career as an Aerospace Technician could earn you up to $61,000 a year with just an associate’s degree.
Occupational Therapy Assistant
With an average salary above $59,000 and the goal of helping people regain the strength and skill they need to work and live, careers in occupational therapy can be financially and personally rewarding.
Is the prospect of helping people of all ages with breathing issues something that excites you? If it is, then you’re in luck as careers in this field pay an average of $58,000 a year and offer full benefits while also allowing the employee to make a difference in people’s lives.
That’s right, commercial diver. Scuba divers with proper training and certification can earn up to $58,000 a year to build and maintain underwater structures. Careers in commercial diving do not require an associate’s degree but do require training through the Association of Commercial Diving Educators.
While being slightly less specialized than an MRI Tech (thus paying slightly less at $57,000), a career as a Radiology Technician is a stable opportunity for high school graduates. Positions in this field require both an associate’s degree and a license or certification to practice.
Physical Therapist Assistant or PTA
PTAs aid in the physical therapy process by providing patients with the tools and skills needed to gain strength and manage pain after surgery or an injury. An associate’s degree is all that is required, and the average salary lands you around $55,000 a year.
Real Estate Broker
Real Estate Brokers have an average salary of $56,000 a year. However, if one is successful, their commission can provide a significant increase on that number.
Real Estate Agent
Much like being a real estate broker, being an agent has the opportunity for serious salary advancement based on commission. Careers in real estate require a high school diploma and real estate licensing courses.
With an average income at $52,000, a career as an Electrician is a great opportunity for a high school grad looking to complete a technical degree or an apprenticeship program. Being an electrician, like contract work, allows for potential salary advancement through entrepreneurial opportunities.
Wind Turbine Technician
Turbine Technicians, who maintain, build, install, and repair wind turbines can earn an average salary of up to $52,000 yearly. With turbine fields popping up all across the country, this is a very rapidly-growing field with serious opportunities for advancement.
A career as a local plumber can be a solid option for those who are willing to complete an apprenticeship program or attend technical school. With an average salary just above $50,000, it is nothing glamorous but is a career with serious opportunity for self-employment to those with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Requiring just a high school diploma, some licensing courses, and available office space careers in insurance sales can land you an annual salary of around $49,000. Much like real estate, depending on your success, commission-based compensation can push your salary to significantly higher figures.
General Contract work is hard to pin down to an average salary as it is often an entrepreneurial career. But if you have the spirit of an entrepreneur and love working with your hands, you can make over $100,000 a year. However, this can be a volatile field with low-end salaries under $22,000.
General contracting ranges from porch building, kitchen remodeling, and gutter services to window washing. The opportunities are endless if you can get your hands on something profitable; contracting can offer high school graduates with a wealth of different careers.
Occupational Health and Safety Tech
Those who choose a career in occupational health and safety can earn a salary of just over $40,000 while providing perimeter protection for your job site. This is a career that has varying levels of requirements, ranging from on-the-job training to an Associate’s Degree.
Are you interested in becoming a jeweler? With a falling national average salary just barely scraping $40,00 a year, the years of local jewelers may be coming to a close. But that is not to say there is no possibility of making this a successful career, with money in the industry, there is success to be had, you will have a harder time seeking it out.
Though it may seem like working in a bank would be on the more lucrative end of these career opportunities, this is a career that is on the decline. The yearly salary of Bank Tellers barely scratches $30,000. However, with opportunities to move into middle management, this can be a valid option for those high school grads who have interests in finance.
With a lower than average annual salary that barely reaches $20,000 metal fabrication is a job that could be right for you, but will only likely be so if it is something you love. If your passion lies with creating types of automotive hose clamps and other metal items, then this could be the career for you.
Swimming Pool and Spa installation
If you love being around swimming pool and spa areas, then a job as a pool or spa installer might be a good option for you. Though you may want to keep in mind that the average salary in this field is only $15,000, however much like contract work, there is an entrepreneurial opportunity that may lead to higher yearly earnings.
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