The highest-paying jobs in America usually require a college degree, but there are still promising opportunities for high school graduates in some of today's hottest industries, including technology.
“Education is very important, but there are also ways to work around that," says Stacy Rapacon, online editor at personal finance website Kiplinger.com. "A lot of technology jobs you can still get without necessarily getting a bachelor’s degree. You can get certifications in certain fields and do that straight out of high school. A lot of employers really do prefer people who have proven skills with technology. They don’t necessarily pay attention to whether or not you have a degree."
Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) defines a "good job" as one that pays at least $35,000 for workers between the ages of 25 and 44, and at least $45,000 for workers aged 45 to 64.
Overall, the opportunities for the high school work force have been declining, from about 15 million good jobs for workers in 1991 to 13 million by 2016. The high school-only pathway, however, currently provides 20 percent of all good jobs, according to Georgetown CEW, which adds that those opportunities are primarily for men.
The best jobs for Americans without a college degree include sales representative, computer user support specialist, and power line installer, Kiplinger says.
As the population ages, the health care field also offers opportunities for people without a higher education. The 15 best jobs for high school graduates include health technologist, medical secretary, medical assistant and dental assistant, according to Kiplinger.
"Everybody has a different path that they follow," Rapacon says. "Going to college isn't for everybody, whether it's a financial reason that keeps you from going to college or you're just not academically inclined, it's just not the right path for everybody, but there are still plenty of opportunities for you to make a career for yourself."
Other top jobs for high school diploma holders include oil, gas and mining service operator; transportation, storage and distribution manager; self-improvement education teacher; mechanics supervisor; heating and air conditioning technician; elevator installer; flight attendant and plumber, according to Kiplinger.