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Top 10 employers for high school graduates

There's been a lot of discussion online and in the media lately about the whether a college degree is worthwhile -- especially given the rising costs of higher education and student debt versus the current tough job market.

Recent analysis by the U.S. Federal Reserve says that, despite the economic downturn, the value of a bachelor's degree for the average college graduate is still near its all-time high of around $300,000.

And while workers whose education ended in high school still earn less on average, a new study notes there are a variety of companies where high school graduates can find not only career advancement but job satisfaction.

The report by Glassdoor, the online career community, used feedback from employees at U.S.-based companies, workers whose highest level of education was completing high school. (Company interns were excluded from this study.)

Using a 1-to-5 ratings system, with a "1" signifying "very dissatisfied" and a "5" meaning "very satisfied," here are Glassdoor's Top 10 Companies for Career Opportunities for High School Graduates, along with their ratings:

  1. Costco 4.0
  2. Whole Foods 3.7
  3. Chipotle Mexican Grill 3.7
  4. Publix 3.7
  5. Nordstrom 3.7
  6. Wells Fargo 3.6
  7. Apple 3.6
  8. Starbucks 3.5
  9. Lowe's 3.4
  10. Home Depot 3.3

Looking at the number one company on the list Scott Dobroski, Glassdoor's community expert, noted Costco is known for paying its part- and full-time workers above-average wages with benefits, as well as for its career advancement opportunities.

"Employees report promotion from within and a positive, open and communicative atmosphere between employees and their managers," he said, "which allows employees to feel comfortable and well-cared for at work."

12 things about Costco that may surprise you
12 things about Costco that may surprise you

"Many Costco employees report feeling as if the employer truly cares for them," he continued, "and will work hard to do what is best for the employee whether that be a promotion, lateral move to another department, or another growth opportunity."

And while six of the companies listed in Glassdoor's Top 10 are in the retail industry, Dobroski says that doesn't mean high school graduates can't find opportunities in other job markets.

"Many employees work in the retail industry as a first job," he noted, "as it tends to hire low-skill employees or those without a lot of experience or a college degree."

An important and common theme Glassdoor noticed in feedback from workers at the Top 10 companies was the availability of career growth opportunity and growth at their places of employment.

"Employees at these companies appreciate promotions from within, internal training and education, mentorship programs and a clear career structure in place," he said, "letting employees know internal upward mobility is encouraged and can be achieved."

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