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There’s a lot of pressure to go to college and get a four-year degree or gain education beyond a bachelor's degree. However, college isn’t for everyone.

While higher education usually leads to a higher salary, there are plenty full-time jobs for high school graduates that don’t require college degrees. Full-time jobs for high school graduates can be found on job search sites like Localwise.

What to consider

Think about your skills and interests. To turn them into the career you want, is a degree from a college or university required? If you're not sure, talk to professionals in the industry or a school counselor who can help guide you. 

If you don’t need a degree, find out what kind of technical training or continuing education might be required.

Some questions to ask yourself

If you aren’t sure what career to look into, think about how each job on this list aligns with your skills and interests. Some questions to ask yourself could include (but are not limited to):

  • Do you want to work with people?
  • Do you like working with your hands?
  • Do you want set hours?
  • Do you like working in an office?
  • Do you like to travel?
  • Do you want to work outdoors?
  • Are you open to relocating?

In the field

1. Chef/Cook

Some chefs attend culinary school, but many start low on the totem pole and learn on the job. Cooks often learn by staging at different restaurants instead of going to a formal culinary school. 

Don’t expect to be Sous Chef on day one. You’ll earn your stars by doing everything from washing dishes to prepping ingredients. 

Expect a fast-paced environment with long hours. But in return, you’ll gain valuable skills. Remember, people will always need to eat, so cooks will always be able to find work.

2. Flight Attendant

If the idea of always being on the road (or in the air) is exciting, join the world of Flight Attendants. You’ll spend a lot of time in the air giving safety demonstrations, ensuring guests' needs are met, and serving food and drinks to passengers. 

You’ll meet new people on every flight, but expect to deal with nervous and/or stressed flyers. Airlines provide training, so a college degree is not required.

3. Cosmetologist

If you have a passion for beauty and a love of helping people look their best, get some training and become a Cosmetologist. The more you learn on the ground, the larger variety of skills you can offer. Expect training in hair and makeup techniques, skincare, and other beauty regimens.

4. Makeup Artist

Though similar to a Cosmetologist, Makeup Artists do theatrical makeup in the film and theater industry. From helping celebrities get red carpet ready to creating zombie makeup for a TV episode, you'll be there on the scene.

Though this does require some skill and training, this is a great position to find mentors and learn "on the job.”

5. Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

If your Grey’s Anatomy dreams have been crushed by the time commitment and cost of medical school, have no fear. You can still race to the scene as an EMT. 

These healthcare professionals get people the care they need by working with firefighters and police officers as first responders. 

Being an EMT requires a certain number of classroom and practical education hours. You’ll work your way up from Basic EMT to Intermediate, and finally to Paramedic. The cost to become a basic EMT is between $500–$1,000.

6. Craftsperson

If you like to use your hands, find a job as a Craftsperson. This might require an apprenticeship to learn a skill such as furniture making, sewing, metalwork, or woodwork. Once you master a specific expertise, you’ll be able to find employment at an existing company or — better yet — create your own business!

7. Truck Driver, Bus Driver, or Subway & Streetcar Operator

Love to drive? You’ll need to complete some on-the-job training to earn your commercial license to operate these vehicles, but you'll be on the road in no time.

Bus Drivers and Streetcar Operators can drive city routes on public buses, or even across the country for services like Greyhound. Truck Drivers travel long distances transporting anything from groceries to livestock.

8. Service Jobs

Many recent graduates look into opportunities to give back to their communities through jobs service work at organizations like Americorps, City Year, or other nonprofits in their neighborhood.

You may work in a classroom, a garden, a community center, or anywhere else help is needed. With your boots on the ground, you’ll learn a lot about service work and nonprofit work.


In the Office

9. Real Estate Agent

Do you love watching shows like House Hunters? Does the idea of selling homes interest you? While Real Estate Agents/Brokers do require a license, they do not require a college degree. 

Passing a written examination and completing the required amount of hours of study is what is necessary to become a Real Estate Agent. On-the-job training is also a component, but you’ll be getting paid.

10. Program Assistant

This entry-level role works underneath the nonprofit's Program Director or Manager. The main responsibility of a Program Assistant is to assist the Program Director with specific programs and help ensure that the cause or mission of the nonprofit is upheld.

Find an organization you’re passionate about, like the YMCA or Boys and Girls Club, and look to see if they have any Assistant positions available.

11. Postmaster

It’s mail time! Most postal workers who have been sorting and delivering your mail for years are high school graduates, but never attended college. 

Becoming a Post Office Worker requires on-the-job experience, which will help you move up to the more senior Postmaster position, one which requires organization and the ability to manage others.

12. Dental Assistants

While dental school requires many years of undergraduate and graduate work, you can become a Dental Assistant with just a high school degree and some training in the office.

Dental Assistants do more administrative work like preparing patients and cleaning tools. This is a good step if you’re interested in becoming a Dental Hygienist further on in your career.

13. Customer Service Representative

Customer Service Representatives interact with customers on the phone, via email, or through a website messenger to solve problems, educate customers, and be an advocate for the company. It is their job to keep customers happy to ensure they are repeat users. 

Customer service jobs usually don’t require much experience but do require patience, empathy, problem-solving skills, communication skills, and knowledge about a company or product.

14. Home Health Aide

Health Aides take care of people who can’t take care of themselves, often due to age, disability, or sickness. These patients prefer to be taken care of at home instead of in a hospital or nursing home. 

Duties include helping patients with daily living activities and providing basic routine care. This position requires a lot of empathy and patience, as well as on-the-job training from nurses or experienced aides.

15. Translator/Interpreter

Having knowledge of a different language is more important than a college degree for this role. One day you may be helping translate a book, another may involve interpreting a speech for visitors from another country. You’ll need to have excellent writing and speaking skills and learn from experienced translators.  

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