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25 Best Jobs for High School Graduates

Geoff Williams

High school graduates, consider these careers.

When it comes to scoring a good job, a bachelor's degree or associate degree isn't required. In the latest U.S. News & World Report Best Jobs rankings, these 25 careers offer nice work-life balance and strong job growth while only requiring a high school diploma. Take note: Entry to some of these fields requires on-the-job training, apprenticeships and state licensure. Read on to learn about the best jobs for high school graduates. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Landscaper and Groundskeeper

Median Salary: $29,000
Expected Job Growth by 2026: 8.8%

Landscapers and groundskeepers make sure gardens and lawns look attractive and well maintained at parks, golf courses, private homes, college campuses and office buildings. They stay busy working outdoors by planting, watering, mowing, fertilizing and weeding. Usually, no formal education is necessary for this role, and workers learn on the job.

Another upside: It's almost always a career that you'll spend work time during the day, since it's hard to do landscaping in the dark, and it's often a job in which you aren't working weekends.

Licenses may be required for people whose jobs involve using pesticides and fertilizers.

Learn more about landscapers and groundskeepers.

Personal Care Aide

Median Salary: $24,200
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 36.6%

Personal care aides help people who have chronic conditions accomplish everyday tasks, like making beds and taking baths. Some positions require high school diplomas or certificates from relevant community college programs. Additional training, perhaps at a certified home health or hospice agency, may include CPR certification.

You might wind up working in a client's home, a group home or perhaps at a day service program at a nursing facility.

It can be a challenging job. You may be physically taxed while working with people who have moods across the spectrum. But it's arguably a job that you can feel very good about -- you're helping society's most vulnerable citizens.

Learn more about personal care aides.

Home Health Aide

Median Salary: $24,020
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 36.4%

These workers support patients in completing their day-to-day tasks, like cooking dinner and getting somebody's mail. They are in high demand as baby boomers age. Some roles require high school diplomas, competency exams or certificates, plus passing a background check. Additional training may include CPR certification.

This is a job very much like a personal care aide, except, of course, you're in a person's home. You probably will work for a home health care business and have numerous clients to visit in a given day. On the other hand, you may wind up working for extended periods of time for one person in a home.

Learn more about home health aides.

Wind Turbine Technician

Median Salary: $54,370
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 56.9%

Wind turbine technicians inspect and repair wind turbines, which generate clean energy. They may train on the job, studying wind energy technology, through a technical program or at a community college.

These workers adjust, diagnose, inspect or repair wind turbines. Training may take place on the job or through a technical program. Many technicians learn how to repair and do preventive maintenance on turbines in vocational school.

In any case, with a position like this you'll likely spend a lot of time at the top of a turbine performing maintenance or troubleshooting the turbine's electrical, mechanical or hydraulic components and replacing or fixing malfunctioning components.

If you don't mind heights, this might be a fun job, and on the upside, you'll often see spectacular views.

Learn more about wind turbine technicians.

Plumber

Median Salary: $53,910
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 13.6%

Plumbers assemble, install and repair pipes and pipe systems in every building that has water, from factories and homes to schools and airports. Plumbers typically complete an intense apprenticeship program, a paid program which can typically last four to five years, offered by unions or businesses, which combines classroom instruction with hands-on work. They must be licensed to work independently and will often be required to continue receiving continuing education to keep that license.

While plumbing is generally a day job during the work week, emergencies can happen any time, so it's a job that can potentially involve evening and weekend work.

Learn more about plumbers.

Hairdresser

Median Salary: $24,730
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 8.5%

These licensed cosmetologists wash, cut, color and style hair for their clients. To qualify for licenses, hairdressers graduate from state-approved barber or cosmetology schools and take state exams to get licensed.

Generally, as you would expect, you'll probably be working in a barbershop or salon, though some hair stylists find work in other areas, such as in film or for a television studio.

Although it's a job that requires a deft touch with your hands, it's also a profession that often requires you to be on your feet. Gifted stylists who are people persons and enjoy talking to the public will likely thrive, in terms of enjoying their job, and will be more likely to collect generous tips.

Learn more about hairdressers.

Medical Assistant

Median Salary: $33,610
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 22.6%

Medical assistants work in doctors' offices, hospitals and other health care facilities, helping with clerical tasks and basic medical work. They often spend a year earning a certificate through a community college or technical school, studying anatomy and medical terminology.

But it is a career that you can often get started with a high school diploma and work your way up by learning on the job.

It's also a growing field, largely due to the baby boomers, a large generation that is aging and needing more medical care than ever. In general, though, no matter what the age of the patient you're working with, health care is a strong career industry.

Learn more about medical assistants.

Licensed Practical Nurse and Licensed Vocational Nurse

Median Salary: $46,240
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 10.7%

These nurses offer basic health care in places such as schools, nursing homes and hospitals.

This is an important nursing position that's different from being a registered nurse, in which you go to nursing school and usually attend four years at a college or university.

LPNs, or licensed practice nurses, and LVNs, or licensed vocational nurses, are basically the same jobs. In California and Texas, these positions are called LVNs; everywhere else, it's an LPN. They complete certificate programs that typically take at least one year and include classroom instruction and clinical work. These nurses have to pass a national exam to get licenses.

If you're an LPN or LVN, you'll be doing crucial, life-saving tasks such as checking vital signs, performing enemas, installing catheters, dressing wounds, delivering medicine, massaging muscles, assisting patients in maintaining their hygiene, starting IVs, monitoring medical equipment and so much more. You're also helping adults and children, often when they're at their most vulnerable. You'll probably go home exhausted most days but feeling very good about what you've accomplished.

Learn more about licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

Massage Therapist

Median Salary: $41,420
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 22.2%

Using their bodies and various methods of touch, massage therapists relieve client pain and help people relax.

This is an in-demand career, with about four times the growth of most jobs. It's in demand because of the aging population, and many health care providers are recognizing the benefits of massage. That said, you may not work in, say, a hospital or at a physician's office. Many massage therapists work at hotels, franchised health care clinics and fitness centers. Some are self-employed and visit clients' homes or offices to give massages.

It's a job that often requires a postsecondary education program of 500 or more hours of study and experience, according to the BLS, although what you're required to do for training is going to hinge upon your state or local jurisdiction's requirements.

Learn more about massage therapists.

Phlebotomist

Median Salary: $34,480
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 23%

Phlebotomists are blood experts who draw blood cells for medical tests. They also collect it for research and donations.

It's the sort of job that's easily accessible to high school graduates, but you do need to get more education. Generally, phlebotomists earn certificates from specialized programs at community colleges or technical schools, during which they learn about physiology, anatomy and medical terminology. These programs can last anywhere from eight weeks to a year.

Sometimes future phlebotomists will start off working as an assistant at a doctor's office and -- on the job or during the evenings and weekends -- work toward getting their certificate.

Phlebotomists tend to work in hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers and physician's offices.

Learn more about phlebotomists.

Physical Therapist Aide

Median Salary: $26,240
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 22.8%

These professionals support physical therapists and physical therapy assistants, often taking on some of the less-skilled work, including sanitizing treatment areas and performing office tasks. Many receive on-the-job training, though ultimately you'll likely need to get an associate degree from an accredited program -- and then you'll get your license and certification.

There is room for advancement, in the sense that some physical therapist aides continue their education to become physical therapy assistants, and if you're interested and able, you could keep continuing your education to eventually become a physical therapist.

Learn more about physical therapist aides.

Maintenance and Repair Worker

Median Salary: $38,300
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 5.7%

These jacks-of-all-trades take care of a range of systems, from electrical circuits to plumbing and painting. Most maintenance and repair workers develop expertise through apprenticeships and are licensed to work independently.

If you enjoy fixing things, this could be an interesting, fulfilling career, assuming there's a wide variety of equipment or machines that you're repairing. If, for instance, you're working at a college, an apartment complex or an airport, you could imagine that you'd often be working on different things -- sometimes indoors and sometimes outside -- and not feeling as if every day was the same.

You'll also be developing a skill that can come in handy in everyday life. If something of yours breaks, you won't have to call a handyman or handywoman. You will call ... you.

Learn more about maintenance and repair workers.

Nail Technician

Median Salary: $24,330
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 10.1%

Working in spas and salons, these technicians clean, shape and paint fingernails and toenails. Also called manicurists and pedicurists, these workers complete cosmetology programs, covering topics such as sanitation regulations and learning how to spot and treat nail disorders. You'll be required, after the course work, to take a state exam to get your license.

Nearly a third of nail technicians are self-employed, while others work in spas and salons. Manicurists and pedicurists must be at least 16 years old and have high school diplomas or the equivalent.

Typically, you'll work 40 hours a week, and it's a job that often requires you to work evenings and weekends. But that may not bother you in the least, if you enjoy talking with people and spending time working on their hands and feet.

Learn more about nail technicians.

Esthetician and Skincare Specialist

Median Salary: $31,290
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 10.9%

These workers help clients clean, tone and moisturize their skin. They may perform wax, laser, peel or other procedures. Estheticians complete cosmetology programs and take an exam to get licenses, which most states require for them to practice.

The BLS reports, "The desire among many women and a growing number of men to reduce the effects of aging will result in employment growth. Good job opportunities are expected."

Most estheticians and skincare specialists work in salons and beauty and health spas, though some are self-employed. It's generally a full-time job, but you can expect to often work evenings and weekends, since that's when your clientele will often be available.

Learn more about estheticians and skincare specialists.

Medical Records Technician

Median Salary: $40,350
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 10.7%

Medical records technicians organize and manage health information data for doctors and hospitals. They often need to earn certificates after high school to find jobs, though you may be able to find some entry-level positions with just a high school diploma. Training programs teach aspiring records technicians about medical terminology, communication, health data standards, classification systems and health care reimbursement methods.

It's a job that is usually in an office but sometimes is done from home. You'll likely be sitting in front of a computer monitor much of your day. It's a good job for people who are analytical and appreciate being immersed in details -- and yet, even though you are often in front of a computer, you'll likely be talking to doctors and finance professionals, and so you shouldn't feel like a hermit.

Learn more about medical records technicians.

Electrician

Median Salary: $55,190
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 10.4%

Electricians install and repair electrical power and other systems in businesses, factories and homes. Training happens on the job or at a technical school, with many states requiring licensure.

This is a job that can be dangerous -- electricity isn't anything to trifle with. It requires extensive training (often, four years as an apprentice). Plus, there's a lot that an electrician can be asked to do, from designing, installing, maintaining and repairing equipment and electrical systems of businesses and factories or installing, maintaining and repairing the electrical systems of residences.

Mostly, you'll work days -- but evenings and weekends are common. So is overtime, according to the BLS.

Learn more about electricians.

Ophthalmic Medical Technician

Median Salary: $36,530
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 16.5%

These professionals work with patients who come in for eye exams, taking notes about their medical histories and checking their visual fields. Ophthalmic medical technicians need high school degrees and on-the-job training.

As you would expect, most people in this profession work with an ophthalmologist, helping them see more patients than they otherwise might be able to. Generally, you'll be working at an eye doctor's practice, though you might find work at a hospital or an outpatient care center.

It's easy to envision a good future with a job such as this. These are often full-time positions during the work week with evenings and weekends off.

Learn more about ophthalmic medical technicians.

Solar Photovoltaic Installer

Median Salary: $42,680
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 63.3%

These clean-energy experts build, install and repair solar panels on buildings. Many installers take courses at community colleges, technical schools or as part of an apprenticeship program, although a high school diploma is typically the only educational requirement to get started in this career. Some companies will offer on-the-job training.

It's a job that is mostly conducted outside, which may be just as well. When you do work inside, you may be in an attic or crawl space, connecting panels to the electric grid. You also will have to do some traveling, locally and regionally, since you'll always go to the customer, rather than them coming to you.

But with climate change and protecting the environment a concern, this is a career that looks poised to have a lot of stability and growth. For PV installers, the future looks bright.

Learn more about solar photovoltaic installers.

Dental Assistant

Median Salary: $38,660
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 11.2%

Dental assistants are the people who are often assisting dentists during procedures by using suction equipment to clear patients' mouths. They're also the ones who are generally smiling at kids (and maybe some stressed out adults) and telling them everything is going to be fine -- or would be, if you'd just brush and floss more.

They also do a lot of sterilizing of instruments, and they sometimes process oral X-rays and help maintain patient records. Depending on their licensing and certification, dental assistants might help with fluoride and sealant applications and polishing teeth and dentures.

As for becoming a dental assistant with a high school diploma, some states require you to be a graduate from an accredited program and to have passed an exam. Other states allow you to be trained on the job.

Learn more about dental assistants.

Insurance Sales Agent

Median Salary: $50,600
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 10.2%

Insurance agents sell auto, health, home and life insurance. Commercial insurance agents also sell property damage and liability policies, employee and executive coverage and product liability. Insurance is a heavily regulated field, and agents must be licensed by their state.

But it is a job that's often open to high school graduates, though, yes, many insurance agents are college graduates as well. It's a career for somebody who is analytical, detail-oriented and a people person.

After all, you have to both sell to people -- an emotional intelligence skill -- and understand the product.

And keep this in mind, if you're thinking of becoming an insurance sales agent. There tends to be a lot of turnover in this career because many new agents struggle to earn sufficient commission income and switch to other occupations. What happens to the clients that the insurance agent was able to get? They go to another insurance agent who has managed to stick it out. So it can be a tough field to break into, but once you have, you may thrive.

Learn more about insurance sales agents.

Residential Advisor

Median Salary: $27,860
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 12%

This is not a lifelong career, but it is worth thinking about if you have a high school diploma, and you want to go to college and bring down your costs. Residential advisors are students who live in the residence halls of colleges, universities, secondary schools and other similar institutions.

They're tasked with supervising the residence hall by assisting the residents with their problems, reporting maintenance concerns or organizing community-building gatherings.

Often, these jobs are open to juniors and seniors, but if you're an older student with some real world experience, you might find that a university would love to have you as a residential advisor. It's a job in which you're generally mentoring younger students -- and invariably trying to keep some of them out of trouble. So colleges like it when student resident advisors are a little older and more seasoned than the freshmen.

Every college is different in how they pay residential advisors, but you may receive free room and board -- as well as a monthly stipend.

Learn more about residential advisors.

Optician

Median Salary: $37,010
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 7.3%

After people visit with an eye doctor, an ophthalmologist or an optometrist, they often meet up with the optician -- the person who fits people with glasses or contact lenses.

In some states, you will need an associate degree or certificate from a community college or technical school. In others, a high school diploma or some sort of equivalent will do just fine.

You'll probably work in a store that sells eyewear -- or with an eye doctor at a private practice. If you're at a practice, you'll probably avoid working evenings and weekends. At a retail store, no such luck. Either way, if you like interacting with people, and if helping them with their eyesight interests you, it may be a job you can see yourself in.

Learn more about opticians.

Restaurant Cook

Median Salary: $26,530
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 21.9%

Restaurant cooks do it all. They braise, blanch, whisk, garnish and grill. They're generally cooking a several meals at once, and without them, a restaurant would fall apart and go out of business pretty quickly.

It's a job in which you don't need a college degree. You do, however, need to know a lot about food, if you're going to do well, and if you have formal training and can prepare complicated and delicious meals, you'll probably work at more upscale restaurants and see a higher paycheck.

It can be a tough gig, where you're often working evenings and weekends. But if you do your job well, you're going to get a lot of people passing on their compliments to the chef.

Learn more about restaurant cooks.

Recreation and Fitness Worker

Median Salary: $29,420
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 10.4%

If you loved playing as a kid, you may love this job -- because, in a way, that's what you're doing. You may be leading people on a hike, teaching them to ride horseback or showing people how to do yoga.

Recreation and fitness workers are everything from aerobics instructors to camp counselors. A park director or a cruise director might be considered a recreation and fitness worker. Basically, if you help members of the public get exercise, you may be a recreation and fitness worker.

Some jobs in this field will require an associate degree and maybe a college degree, depending what the position is. But one fringe benefit is that in helping people stay active and healthy, you'll likely stay active and healthy as well.

Learn more about recreation and fitness workers.

Firefighter

Median Salary: $49,620
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 5.3%

Firefighters are trained to extinguish fires and otherwise rescue people and animals from dangerous situations. But they do even more than that. They rescue people from floods, assist when people are in a medical emergency, pull people out of wrecked cars, help cats out of trees and generally are superheroes without actual capes.

You don't need a college degree, but you will likely receive training at a fire academy. You'll have tests, written and physical, and you'll be certified as an emergency medical technician.

You'll often work 40 or more hours a week and sometimes will be on call, spending time at the fire station, where you'll sleep and eat. And, of course, it can be dangerous work. But it's a highly gratifying position.

Learn more about firefighters.

Some of the best jobs for high school graduates include:

-- Home health aide.

-- Wind turbine technician.

-- Massage therapist.

-- Electrician.

-- Solar photovoltaic installer.

-- Dental assistant.

-- Optician.

-- Restaurant cook.

-- Recreation and fitness worker.

-- Firefighter.



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