20 Good Jobs That Don't Require A College Degree

high school diploma jobs

With all the debate surrounding the value of a college degree these days, many young workers and their parents may be glad to hear there are many well paying jobs that don't require higher education.

CareerCast.com recently identified 20 good jobs that need only a high-school diploma, although they do require some additional training. The job-portal didn't rely just on salary to compile its list. It used five sets of criteria to assess the quality of the careers, assigning points to each measure. Those with the lowest overall score achieved the highest rankings and vice versa.

The criteria included such things as how physically demanding a job was (jobs that require frequent and heavy lifting scored less desirably than those with little or none), as well as emotional factors, such as competitiveness, potential hazards and the amount of contact with the public, and stress.

CareerCast also looked at potential for income and employment growth (for the decade ending 2020) and how much mid-level workers earned in their respective fields.

At first blush, some jobs that made CareerCast's list may not appear to be great choices, with starting wages at around $16,000 a year -- only slightly more than minimum wage.

But CareerCast says each of the jobs fares well overall, at least according to its criteria. "If salary is lagging, the other aspects of the job make up for it," says CareerCast.com Publisher Tony Lee.

And it bears mentioning that when compared to jobs in Careercast's overall Jobs Rated rankings, which includes positions that require a college degree, these jobs don't rank as well.

That's one reason career experts aren't so quick to dismiss the value of a college education despite the rapid rise in tuition and other costs in recent years. Though a college degree doesn't guarantee employment, college graduates overall have lower rates of unemployment than those with less education.

Further, statistics routinely show that having a college degree substantially increases earning power -- an average $1 million during a lifetime.

Still, Lee says, "If you want to earn a lot of money without a college degree, take a look at the amount of training you'll need, then focus on a job that can still provide a satisfying, comfortable career."

Check out CareerCast.com's list of 20 Great Jobs Without a College Degree:


1. Dental Hygenist

Average Starting Salary: $45,000
Income Growth: 109 percent
Employment Growth: 37.7 percent

2. Online Sales Manager

Average Starting Salary: $40,000
Income Growth: 255 percent
Employment Growth: 25 percent

3. Web Developer

Average Starting Salary: $43,000
Income Growth: 179 percent
Employment Growth: 21.7 percent

4. Medical Secretary

Average Starting Salary: $21,000
Income Growth: 114 percent
Employment Growth: 41.3 percent

5. Paralegal Assistant

Average Starting Salary: $29,000
Income Growth: 159 percent
Employment Growth: 18.3 percent

6. Stenographer/Court Reporter

Average Starting Salary: $26,000
Income Growth: 250 percent
Employment Growth: 14.1 percent

7. Heating/Refrigeration Mechanic

Average Starting Salary: $26,000
Income Growth: 158 percent
Employment Growth: 33.7 percent

8. Surveyor

Average Starting Salary: $31,000
Income Growth: 190 percent
Employment Growth: 25.4 percent

9. Executive Assistant

Average Starting Salary: $29,000
Income Growth: 131 percent
Employment Growth: 12.6 percent

10. Insurance Agent

Average Starting Salary: $26,000
Income Growth: 342 percent
Employment Growth: 21.9 percent

11. Industrial Machine Repairer

Average Starting Salary: $30,000
Income Growth: 127 percent
Employment Growth: 21.6 percent

12. Cosmetologist

Average Starting Salary: $16,000
Income Growth: 163 percent
Employment Growth: 15.7 percent

13. Hair Stylist

Average Starting Salary: $16,000
Income Growth: 163 percent
Employment Growth: 15.7 percent

14. Tax Examiner/Collector

Average Starting Salary: $30,000
Income Growth: 207 percent
Employment Growth: 7.3 percent

15. Sales Representative (Wholesale)

Average Starting Salary: $27,000
Income Growth: 304 percent
Employment Growth: 15.6 percent
16. Construction Machinery Operator

Average Starting Salary: $26,000
Income Growth: 173 percent
Employment Growth: 23.5 percent

17. Electrical Technician

Average Starting Salary: $34,000
Income Growth: 138 percent
Employment Growth: 1.9 percent

18. Architectural Drafter

Average Starting Salary: $30,000
Income Growth: 140 percent
Employment Growth: 3.2 percent

19. Teacher's Aide

Average Starting Salary: $17,000
Income Growth: 112 percent
Employment Growth: 14.8 percent

20. Sewage Plant Operator

Average Starting Salary: $25,000
Income Growth: 156 percent
Employment Growth: 11.6 percent


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JL

Since when is $17K considered a "good paying" job? That's $8.17 an hour; not really much more than Federal Minimum Wage...

May 24 2012 at 12:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ddokken69

Hey you forgot the more important jobs: President, politition, congressman, senate, house and........

May 21 2012 at 4:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bigblue730

Dental Hygienists need at least a 2 year degree and are licensed.

May 20 2012 at 7:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe

Since when is making $16,000 a good job? That's only slightly above minimum wage. I think the author is reaching for a good story.

May 20 2012 at 5:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
bjzink

In our area of the US, companies are desperate for welders and diesel mechanics. Also small airplane mechanics are in demand. Check out the trade schools in your area to see what students are placed in jobs immediately.

May 19 2012 at 5:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bzh484

The real reason for college degrees is that ssmost hiring managers are scared to hire a non degree person.
Place an ad in the newspaper and one receives 100 plus applicants, so how does one cut the list to 10? Easiest way is take out those without a degree, then those with degrees that do not relate to the business.
But you may miss the natural doer.

May 19 2012 at 4:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bzh484's comment
Joe

You are only partially correct. Obtaining a college degree can be used to show the learning of specific skills, such as analytical skills, as well as dedication and knowledge that needs to be known before an applicant can start a job. There are many, many other reasons for a recruiter to seek those with degrees, although, I do agree with you to a point that some positions should not require one; but do you really want someone to work on your teeth simply because they are a natural doer?

May 20 2012 at 5:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bzh484

A degree teaches you to work for someone else.
Years ago teahers took a two year certificey ate course at a university. This included 3 weeks of on site training teaching a class. These teachers then taught for years doing excellent work. Today, they need a masters degree to do the same thing and do not start with a lot of on site training. The question is why is all this education required since are students are not doing any better than before?
Ever use a physical therapyst. Now they need masters and doctorate degrees. Why?
Teach our kids to read and add, then they will be ready for 90% off jobs out there.

May 19 2012 at 4:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bzh484's comment
Joe

If they did such awesome work with an advanced degree, why is our education system consistently ranked as subpar. I, for one, do not want someonw who simply has a certificate and 3 weeks experience to teach my child when so much is riding on it.

May 20 2012 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chellrdh05

The only state that you do not need a degree to be a dental hygienist is Alabama. In every other state you need a degree and have to be licensed in your region. Now if you are a dental assistant working in a pediatric dental office you can polish the teeth, but by law you have to be a registered dental hygienst with a DEGREE to scale the tartar off of anyones teeth!!! dental assistants are NOT dental hygienists. Technical colleges do give degrees such as associates. Please get your facts straight, Valerie!!

May 19 2012 at 3:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cris

You have to have at least an associates degree in architecture to get a drafting position.

May 19 2012 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
reddaizies

I am a court reporter, you need a degree and state certification. Also the starting salary is much higher than what is stated in the article.

May 19 2012 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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