A high school diploma simply doesn’t go as far as it once did. It used to be the case that a smart, motivated individual could snag an entry-level position in the field of their choice, take notes, shake hands, make a good impression, and eventually move up the ladder. These days, however, the corporate ceiling seems to be collapsing faster than a spiked trap in an Indiana Jones movie. With an abundance of overqualified individuals on the job market competing for even low-level employment, a candidate with no college education just won’t make the cut in most cases. And yet, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to resign yourself to a job flipping burgers or cleaning hotel rooms. Here are a few to consider if the collegiate path just isn’t for you.
In truth, the term “high-paying” is rather subjective, but we can all agree that something above the poverty level (approximately $11,000 per year for a single adult) or minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) is a good start. However, you want to do better than good; you want a job that will allow you to pay all your bills and sock a little money away to save up for the down payment on a home, an annual vacation, and all the little extras that make life worthwhile. You don’t want to just survive; you want to be comfortable and secure. So just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that high-paying means a job that offers $40,000 a year or better on average. That’s pretty good for someone without a degree.
For starters, you could become an EMT (emergency medical technician). As you may have heard, there is ongoing need for qualified individuals in the medical field. But since you don’t want to spend two years receiving a nursing certificate (much less twelve years becoming a doctor), here is a way that you can pay the rent and help people in need. You’ll earn about $45,000 a year, although you will have to take a few classes, receive certifications, and eventually become a paramedic to earn top salaries in this field. Luckily, jobs for EMTs are expected to grow over the next several years, according to forecasting by the Bureau of Labor.
But what if you don’t like dealing with sick people? There are many other options. With just a couple months of training you could get a commercial driver’s license and become a truck driver earning about $45,000 a year. You could also become a funeral director ($80,000 per year). Those who like to fly the friendly skies could start out as a flight attendant, and while this position doesn’t pay particularly well, on-the-job training could eventually lead to a job as a flight service manager, which pays upwards of $50K. Or you could even become an air traffic controller, a high-stress position that comes with equally high pay (nearly $75,000 per year, on average). And if you’re a real people person, you could go into sales of some sort (cars, homes, etc.) and there is no upper limit on what you could potentially earn here.
Of course, many of these careers still require some amount of training, testing, certification, and so on, but the point is that there are tons of options that don’t entail a search on Craigslist or donning a paper hat. Many require that you spend some time learning your craft, but for some people there’s no better education than life experience. So if the ivory tower of learning just isn’t your thing, seek out one of the many professions that can offer those without a college degree a shot at the good life nonetheless.