Top 10 Best-Paying Jobs You Can Get Right Out of High School

high school jobs Alina Dizik, Special to

With increasing costs to higher education, pursuing a college degree can be tough for some. But here's the good news: Even if you don't continue school for another four years (or put it off until later in your career), there are still a surprising number of career opportunities for those with a high school diploma. With many career paths providing on-the-job training these days, it's often possible to move up into higher-paying positions without an additional degree.

Here's a look at jobs you can get right after high school, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook:

Loan officer

Average annual salary: $61,928

Anyone who's ever taken out loans to pay for a house, a car or even to start a small business has had to turn to a loan officer to help complete the transaction. Loan officers not only facilitate the lending process but are also involved with determining how clients will repay the loans.

Medical appliance technician

Average annual salary: $57,484

Working with medical devices that are prescribed by podiatrists or prosthetists, medical appliance technicians are in charge of helping patients use the prescribed devices correctly. The technicians work with anything from replacement limbs to hearing aids and are responsible for gaining full understanding of each device.

Stationary engineer or boiler operator

Average annual salary: $55,373

Working in malls, warehouses, hotels or large office buildings, stationary engineers manage the complicated ventilation, and heating and air-conditioning systems in these buildings. Stationary engineers oversee heat, electricity and cooling equipment in order to maintain optimal conditions in the work environment.

Postal service mail carrier

Average annual salary: $49,499

Delivering mail to local businesses and residences, Postal Service mail carriers travel on established routes and also help with sorting of mail. Mail carriers value the stability of their job and the ability to build long-term relationships with those they deliver mail to.

Line installer and repairer

Average annual salary: $47,759

Working to keep your cable and electricity lines running, line installer and repairers understand the complicated web of networks that connect people with the outside world. As these networks expand and need to be updated, those who understand how to maintain them are in constant demand.

Desktop publisher

Average annual salary: $46,524

Using computer publishing software, desktop publishers produce printed materials like brochures, books and magazines.

Quality control inspector

Average annual salary: $46,378

Maintaining the quality of products in any industry, inspectors work hard to make sure customers are getting exactly what they paid for. Testing vehicles, clothing, food and even electronic components means there is plenty of work variety to adjust to different interests.

Floral designer

Average annual salary: $45,234

A dream job for aspiring creative types, floral designers come up with unique ways to present flowers. Using live or faux flowers, greenery, embellishments and vases, floral designers sell their work for occasions like weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties and funerals.

Hazardous materials removal workers

Average annual salary: $45,220

As the spotlight on hazardous materials increases, removal workers have the important job of identifying and safely removing materials like asbestos, nuclear waste, mercury and others. Many respond to emergency situations to help protect people from accidental exposure to health-harming materials and carcinogens.


Average annual salary: $45,145

Working to save people and property from fire emergencies means risking your life to protect the public. In addition to putting out fires, firefighters work directly with ambulances and the police department to respond to other emergencies.

Next: Companies Hiring This Week

Related Stories from The Huffington Post

*Average national salary information is from

Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Type your comment here How about a surgery anaesthesiology nurse. It takes more study after a nursing degree but it pays $150,000 -$200,000.

March 22 2011 at 4:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

oh and hazmat.....yeah you need training and classes to. This was a useless article!

March 22 2011 at 4:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You can not walk into a fire house and BE a firefighter. There is schooling involved. Maybe they should have looked into this before declaring that there is no schooling needed. I have my F1, F2, investigators, hazmat 2s and all my ICS training. The jobs for firefighters are shrinking. Those of us trained already can not find jobs most of the time because of budget cuts. GOOD LUCK!

March 22 2011 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jobs??? Like the government gives a crap. Have you heard the latest news today? That fool in the White House just loaned Brazil 2 billion dollars to drill for oil off of their shore. Yea, this aol jobs story is real comforting to the American jobless.

March 22 2011 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to grouper62's comment

If he did, he had to borrow it from China, Japan or India!! So we are now borrowing from one country to give to another? And to think I thought our country could not get any worse than it was under GW Bush!!

March 22 2011 at 6:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hufftington post fools write another steaming pile of poop

March 22 2011 at 3:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Sorry, but as with many AOL articles, this one is very superficial.

Loan Officers?? Good luck unless you already have seniority in a bank or other financial institution. Plus, don't think that the banks are going to let someone with a high school education put together loan packages these days without significant training and mathmatical ability. Those days are long gone.

Postal Service Mail Carriers................another failing industry..........again the mail carrier jobs go to those with more seniority and experience.

Stationary engineer/ boiler operator
Many of these types of traditional jobs have gradually been eliminated as computer controls are able to operate more and more features. Industries that need such people, need the workers to be well educated and computer literate. Even if you do not have to have extensive college education, you WILL need to have attended a qualified technical school, which also costs money.

Desktop publisher...again, with the highly sophisticated computer designs, a lot of the need for these people have been reduced. And for someone to be effective in this field, they DO need to be educated way around it. Do you expect the employers to be willing to hire semi literate people to perform desk top publishing?? It is one thing if you have done this for twenty years and have a track record, but if you are young, without a degree, good luck................geesh

Actually many communities now hire with the expectation of college degrees. As law enforcement becomes more suophisticated, so does the need for more education.

Medical Appliance technician...well, depends on the equipment you are discussing. Technicians who manage hospital equipment have to be fully trained in their field..again, you are looking at at least high quality vocational schools for most of the well paying jobs. For the prosthetic appliance work you are discussing, there are relatively very few positions available.

Why didn't you mention some of the always needed trades? Plumbing, heating and air may need to attend vocational school, or several years of apprenticeship, but they are always needed

Education is expensive, but if you are smart, and think about what you want out of life, then there are many alternatives when it comes to paying for school. Military service certainly does a great job in financing a college education. So does service in underpriveleged areas for a few years for teachers, nurses, and many medical fields. Be willing to work full time for a year or two before college to save money for tuition, and work part time during school, both work! Make sure that before you spend 20+ K/ year, you know your future carreer will allow you to pay back your student loans....... Try a JC for the first 2 years.

The last thing America needs is to become even more dumbed down. Life long education will be needed for all future generations.

March 22 2011 at 3:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ridinggirl's comment

No. Postal service jobs go to minorities just like all government jobs. My carrier can barely speak English.

March 22 2011 at 4:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

You're an idiot, child.

June 25 2013 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Whoever wrote this article obviously did not do proper research. I just looked into five of the jobs that were listed and all of them required a four year degree.

March 22 2011 at 3:32 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Uh, hello. . . these are not entry level jobs. Apparently this lame article was prepared by an entry level journalist wanna be. Come on, what company will hire an untrained kid fresh from high school as their boiler operator. Unless you have already had a great deal of experience in "desktop publishing" (by the way, that terminology went out about 10-15 years ago), you won't be getting any jobs publishing magazines. Maybe making brochures for minimum wage would be more realistic. No degree & no experience, you won't be getting most any of those jobs listed, and certainly not anywhere near the average pay quoted in the article.

March 22 2011 at 3:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

its all about supply and demand.we are just another product for sale

March 22 2011 at 3:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

yeah right! those jobs don't even exsist in this small town where I live. It's mandatory to have at least an associates degree or you won't get hired! having a certificate for a trade will only get you half way in the door. starting your business is even hard. let's face it, you can not survive off $20,000 a year from a $10 or $12 an hour job. the government is so bad that we have no choice but to go to college to make a better leaving. pretty soon the goverment will cut the cost for pell grants and loans because they will claim that there is no money for education. "go to college = get a life".

March 22 2011 at 3:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sangria's comment

i did not say it was in your town your leaving to go away to a 4 year college depending on what you your dream is you will go after that degree .If there is an abundance of that degree available the industry will evalute what they will have to pay for somebody to fill that position if they can get someone with the next degree up for the same money your out .In you town probably enough people were satisfied with $10 to 20 ph range so thats what they required as matter of fact there are a lot of people right now that would like to that right now even with a 4 year degree.If they decide to move there then those same jobs will require that degree

March 22 2011 at 3:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cmax383666's comment

I would never say education is a waste of time. I guess its just where your personal priorites are at the time.I would like to go go back someday with the worry of rent or Houspayment or food but thats another story.

March 22 2011 at 3:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

Search Articles

Picks From the Web