25 good jobs that don't require a college degree

In the spring a young person's fancy turns to thoughts of graduation and then work. While people with a bachelor's degree have many more job options than those without one, the truth is college isn't for everyone. Some people can't afford it and even some who can just don't find higher education to be a good fit.

Fortunately there are still a number of desirable jobs which only require a high school diploma. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook these are the 25 occupations which are expected to add at least 10,000 new jobs between 2012 and 2022 while paying a minimum of $30,000 annually and which do not require more than a high school diploma.

Job title

Est. # of
new jobs
(2012-22)
Est.
percent
growth
rate*

Approx.
median
income
(2012)

Real estate broker

40,600

11

$41,000

Purchasing agents

19,700

4

$60,000

Power line install/repair

18,300

7

$59,000

Police officer

42,000

5

$57,000

Building inspector

12,000

12

$53,000

Property manager

35,000

12

$52,000

Electrician

114,000

20

$50,000

Iron worker

12,700

22

$46,000

Industrial mechanic

77,400

17

$46,000

Bricklayer

29,000

34

$45,000

Sheet metal worker

22,000

15

$43,000

Machinist

33,700

7

$41,000

Construction equip. operator

78,000

19

$41,000

Carpenter

218,200

24

$40,000

Drywall installer

18,000

16

$38,000

Substance abuse counselor

28,000

31

$38,000

Auto body/glass repair

22,900

13

$37,000

Auto/truck mechanic

82,000

9

$36,000

Welder

20,800

6

$36,000

Bookkeeper

204,600

11

$35,000

Financial clerk

154,200

11

$35,000

Dispensing optician

15,800

23

$33,000

Fitness trainer

33,500

13

$32,000

Pest control

12,800

20

$30,000
Pharmacy tech 70,700 20 $30,000

*Growth rate means the percent change in the number of jobs added or lost in a U.S. occupation or industry over a given projection period.

  • 22 percent or more = much faster than the average
  • 15 percent to 21 percent = faster than the average
  • 8 percent to 14 percent = as fast as the average
  • 3 percent to 7 percent = more slowly than the average

The Occupational Outlook Handbook is a very useful tool for high school students or recent graduates wondering what types of jobs they might want to consider.

Even if you can only manage a two-year degree, it is still likely to be worth the investment in terms of earnings. The BLS reports the average median weekly salary for a worker without a degree is $651, compared to $777 for those with an associate's degree and $1,108 for those earning a bachelor's degree.

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    Constantine von Hoffman is a freelance writer and writing coach. His work has appeared in outlets such as Harvard Business Review, NPR, Sierra magazine, Brandweek, CIO, The Boston Herald, TheStreet.com, CSO, and Boston Magazine.

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