Jobs w/ only a High School diploma


The thread on US incomes made me wonder . . .

What kinds of jobs are available to someone w/ only a high school diploma? Are they jobs that can support a family? (i.e. hubby works and wife stays home w/ kids) Is there such a thing anymore? —KCT


I know, while I was looking for a job in accounting, fresh out of college, there were TONS of jobs for bookkeeping and such that probably make enough for a person to live singly or for a supplemental job. I think they can make up to 25-35K, but that’s the upper end with experience. However, you only needed a high school diploma.

Both my uncles never went to college and both own their own businesses, one owns a roofing business and the other I’m not sure but he works from his home and has an office there. Construction pays well, too, from what I’ve been told. My friends who have parents who never went to college seem to have both parents working, but they definitely make it fine :).

I know the military is also good, but that’s a completely different arena.


I think it depends on the person, not the degree. Some people have an aptitude for learning on the job and can easily work their way up the ranks without a college degree.

I’m now a sahm, but when I was working there were only a very small number of people who were actually working in their field of study. This is not to say that college doesn’t make you well-rounded because I think it does and I think it has value. But at the end of the day, I still think it depends on the person.

Outside of a speciality, such as medical or legal, I think some non-college educated people could do anything.


Strictly speaking, that is also a post-high-school education. You do get training.

It depends on where you are, but it normally takes a lot of initiative and not a small amount of luck to make an income that will support a family without formal post-high-school education. Let’s face it: a college degree is no guarantee, if you don’t know how to do an effective job search and become a productive employee. Almost nobody in this world has a good job drop into their lap.

By initiative, I mean you have to go out and gain a skill base and an excellent work reputation which is documented by reference rather than a formal diploma, or you have to start a business that meets a need that you identify and meet through hard work and planning. For instance, you can work at a fast-food place and work your way up to a managerial position, but you don’t do that by mailing in your effort when you’re in the lower ranks.

If you don’t get quite an education out of either of those processes, you aren’t going to succeed.

This is even true if you are in an area where you can get a job in logging or factory work. The people who don’t make a real effort to learn the job and do it right don’t last. When it comes time to lay off, they’re the ones that go. When it comes time for promotions, they are the ones who are passed over (as much as union rules allow).

A person who doesn’t want to go to college might consider formal training in a vocational field or a job that has an apprenticeship aspect to it. There are some excellent programs, depending on your interest. Someone with the aptitude, for instance, can become an electrician, and make a really nice salary after awhile. But that is just a different kind of education, really.

My sense from listening to the author of “Chutes and Ladders”, a new book following the fates of some Harlem residents who were applying for minimum-wage positions 10-15 years ago, is that people who stay at minimum wage need at least two adults working to keep their households above the poverty line.


Hey I don’t make that even with a diploma… OK to be fair, I also live in the midwest and my house cost <$35,000.


My son, because of a learning disability, did not graduate from high school. He finally gave up. We told him if he wanted to live at home he had to get a job and pay rent. He did, rent was very little, and we banked it and gave it to him later when he needed to buy a truck to go into the field of construction he had chosen. He has been very successful and makes enough money to afford a wife well. She has since passed away but they lived a little more than comfortable on what he has been able to make.


That’s a good point – if you start a business and you’re your own boss, nobody cares about what kind of college degree you have. The person who started the $70 millon company I worked at was a high-school DROPOUT.

That being said, none of my highschool classmates who didn’t get a degree have risen above an entry-level factory job.


:slight_smile: I also live in the midwest, but very close to Chicago, so that’s why…and my apartment right now is going for $150,000 and it’s a one bedroom/one bath. :frowning:


This is an interesting thread, and I hope it continues to get replies. I am a freshman at a prestigous university and I have been strongly considering taking some time off to look into my other options. Neither of my parents attended college, but my Father, bless him, works very hard and built a strong business. I truly believe that if an individual is inteligent and motivated, with God on their side, they can be succesful. I also think that the college atmosphere can be harmful to many, which I have experienced personally.

This article is very interesting and is worthy of some consideration. It ives several reason why to skip college and talks about some careers where experience is mre important than education.


I live near several suburbs without high crime areas and one could buy a 3 bedroom house for that.

I think a person who makes his or her own way in life is going to determine what they want to do, with or without a college degree.

That said, short term (less than six months) post-secondary training can be very productive. I know people with IT certificates, but no college at all, who make excellent money. A lot of people think college is necessary for IT, but those people don’t sort out what IT really is. It isn’t all coding, and it isn’t all desktop.


Here in Canada you can be an Air Traffic Controller with just a high school diploma - depending where you go thats 40k-70k (CAD$) right out of training


Middle management. Depending on the type of store/company you can make 20-70K.

The company I work for starts in the 30s and works up to 90K a year. In the west it is almost 175K a year.

Of course, a position like that will require a suitable personality and much management/job experience.


Yep…That’s what I do!.. IT Director for my company. I spend alot of time at remote sites where we have computers…barns, hunting lodges (Mice like to eat wiring) along with the office stuff. I also do installations of internet cameras…out in the wilderness where we have to get satellite internet connections and run electricity from well pumps. No College isn’t necessary but most places require it just to see if you can finish what you start. BTW…I didn’t mention that I with my low pay I got a car, cell phone, wardrobe allowance, laptop, time off to go to mass (everybody except office manager here is Catholic), tution help for my daughter’s HS, etc…The boss also takes my family and I to alot of football and basketball games at U of I. I was offered another job at the same time for about twice the pay but you had to work when they said work and take vacation when they said to…not my idea of an ideal workplace.


sure garabge men here in NJ make great money as do folks that work at the DPW…also the food industry is another place if you have talent you can get good money without an education past highschool


Great jobs in the “trades”… plus if you’re good you can open your own place eventually… and make more than the “hired white-collar” bosses (that DON’T own their destiny and still work for someone else!)

Just don’t fool yourself. It’ll take you about 10+ years to get to that point, whereas the college educated can/will walk into that salary bracket.


I am the IT director at a Catholic school. I am the only educational “coordinator” in the area that has hardware certs and can fix same; only one of two that has Microsoft and CompTIA certs. I have a BA- in English Lit.

I have worked with IT guys at some pretty prestigious places who got into these environments with high shcool diplomas and a combination of skills and certs.


I knew there was a reason I liked you and your posts!!! You’re a geek like me! Just kidding. My son wants me to put in for IT Dir at the Catholic HS in this area cause they never seem to get a true techie type. He ran the network when he was a freshman, sophmore and junior…in return they gave him his community service hours and free lunches all year. It was a big help as I was a single mom at the time!


The high school diploma alone is not enough. You will need job experience, professional certification, or unique skills of some kind to go with it. A combination of two or more of these is usually best. :slight_smile:

However, if you want a more comfortable income, such as the kind that would allow you to support a family with a SAHM, you’ll want to consider minimally a two-year associate’s degree from a community college. On average, a person with a 4-year bachelor’s degree still makes significantly more than a person with only the HS diploma.


It’s all about skills and abilities, enthusiasm and getting along, ambition and drive.

There still are companies that hire entry level people where there are opportunities to move ahead.

The more education a person has, the more likely it is to move forward faster, but that’s not a guarantee.

A person can get a job driving a truck or on a loading dock and display aptitudes that cause him or her to advance.

If the person has numerical skills, they may be able to advance rapidly in certain companies.

Many companies take pride in providing training and education for their employees.

When I was very young, I was at an Army Airfield kind of hanging out after hours. (long story). A plane arrived with an Army colonel aboard. He asked for help with finding a phone, etc. And we got to chatting.

He explained that as a young man, he had been in the Air Force. He rose to the rank of sergeant. His lieutenant explained to the sergeant that in the lieutenant’s opinion, the sergeant had limited growth potential in the Air Force and suggested switching to the Army.

So… the sergeant rose to the rank of Colonel. And he had advanced … and was an Army pilot, but also was in town to visit his former lieutenant … who was now an Air Force Captain.

Go figure.


I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for, but I know people who have taken a 5 week training course in pharmaceutics and started at $50,000 with their company (and got a car which the company pays for). There are several jobs like that which don’t require years of post-high school education that can turn into great opportunities.

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