American workers are in a tough spot: Two-thirds lack a college degree at a time when wages for high school graduates are falling.
But that doesn't mean good jobs can't be found for those without a degree, according to research from career site SimplyHired. The company created its list of 10 top jobs that don't require a college degree by analyzing data that includes average salary, number of jobs available and potential career growth.
The debate about whether it's worthwhile to earn a college degree has been growing. Investment bank Goldman Sachs earlier this year noted that the average return on a college degree has been falling, given the rising cost of higher education. Still, while it might take longer for that investment to pay off, economic research has found that earnings for college grads are pulling farther ahead of those without bachelor's degrees.
"Jobs with college degrees pay more, but you have to look at the cost of the degree and income, and make a decision on whether that degree is as valuable as you think," said Susan Martindill, director of demand generation for SimplyHired.
On an inflation-adjusted basis, the high point for annual earnings for recent college grads was in 2002, when median income was about $45,000; it now hovers at about $43,000. Wages for recent high-school graduates have drifted down from a peak of about $29,500 in 2001 to about $25,000 a year currently, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Many jobs on SimplyHired's list pay far more than that and are likely to provide a solid middle-class life. Still, many of the occupations will require an investment in training and time to receive certification.
"A lot of jobs don't require any type of training," Martindill said. "My advice would be to start in a retail job, start in a food service job, and prove yourself there. Work up to be the manager, and save some money. One of the skills that benefits anyone in these roles is learning how to work with a budget."
Read on for the 10 top jobs for high school graduates.