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Jobs for Highschool Dropouts

23 Good Paying Jobs for Highschool Dropouts in 2023

In America, one out of ten high school students end up dropping out, with approximately 7,000 pupils leaving each day. 

These statistics, together with social stigma, can be discouraging; however, only approximately 18.5% of dropouts end up unemployed, while others have successful careers. 

You can still find work even if you don’t have a high school education.

According to Labor Department data between 2019 and 2022, college dropouts aged 25 and older earned an average of approximately $27.90 per hour.

Therefore, contrary to popular belief, dropouts can succeed. This post discuss 23 lucrative employments (online and offline jobs) high school dropouts can apply for.

Furthermore, we’ll look at how much money you can make in these jobs and how you can build a successful career even if you didn’t finish high school. Thus, relax; there are opportunities for you out there!

What are the Common Jobs for High School Dropouts?

The common jobs for high school dropouts include cashiering, waiting tables, cleaning, and construction works. The 2020 global lockdowns caused many people, particularly dropouts, to establish small businesses and take up freelancing roles

However, many of these typical jobs are dead-end and unsustainable. 

There are numerous sectors and industries that openly welcome dropouts, which are rarely considered by ex-students due to the availability of other lucrative alternatives. 

These sectors include:

  • Farming
  • Manufacturing
  • Landscaping and Groundskeeping
  • Food services
  • Retail
  • Warehousing and Logistics
  • Sales
  • Trade
  • Transportation
  • Construction
  • Maintenance and Repair
  • Gardening
  • Entry-Level IT and Tech Support
  • Arts, Music, and Theater 
  • Cleaning
  • Hospital Support Roles
  • Hospitality
  • Personal Care Services

Overall, high school dropouts have an inexhaustible array of opportunities to pursue long-lasting and successful careers without having to do physically demanding and low-paying labor. 

In addition, the salary of an individual who didn’t complete high school education is job-dependent.

Entry-level employees without a high school diploma often earn less than those with a college degree. 

However, as they advance in career and become proficient in tasks, they can earn more, whether it is a remote or office-based job.

23 Jobs for High School Dropouts

For high school dropouts looking for jobs that pay well and are worth the time, here are 23 options:

1. Personal Trainer

Average annual salary: $66k

It should be your strong suit to engage with clients, design workout routines, and offer fitness and nutrition guidance. Your primary role is to assist others in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

This job doesn’t require a high school certificate; nonetheless, you need to be knowledgeable about fitness and health. Moreover, some facilities might require degrees in Exercise Science or Kinesiology. 

You’ll learn and gain experience on the job, and you can also complete specialized courses to become a certified personal trainer.

With increasing expertise and an established clientele, you can advance your career and potentially work in more specialized fitness sectors that does not require a high school diploma.

2. Office Manager

Average annual salary: $47k

Don’t rush to become an office manager immediately after dropping out; rather, build your way up by starting as an office assistant. This way, you will develop administrative skills and get promoted. 

To do this, use your communication skills when you engage customers, enter data, respond to calls and mails, and collaborate with people in other departments.

Additionally, as an office assistant, you will learn the workplace operations and develop into a valuable team member..

After you’ve built a strong reputation and developed skills, you can move up to higher roles like office manager, which also means more money.

3. Construction Manager

Average annual salary: $107k

Construction worker jobs offer various positions. Many people start with entry-level work to learn a specific skill. 

Majority of these jobs value hard work and willingness to learn after having a high school diploma. For high school dropouts, these careers may last a lifetime.

You can be given opportunities to manage projects as your skills improve. 

Numerous experienced construction workers started with entry-level jobs; and by developing their skills, built a good reputation and successful career.

Your skills can be in high demand, and you can earn more if you specialize in a certain construction area. Moreover, you might even start your own construction company if you like business.

4. Equipment Operator

Average annual salary: $55k

As an equipment operator, your job is to use machines for different tasks, such as building or transporting logs. You can find these jobs in construction, logistics, and other industries.

It also includes switchboard operators, loggers, and some roles in farming.

These jobs are suitable for people who are detailed and don’t mind repetitive tasks.

You can have job options if you are adept at using special machines. Some people remain in one company for a long time, whereas others move to different jobs or take on higher-level positions.

5. Food Service Manager/Restaurant Manager

Average annual salary: $52k

Starting a career in the food service industry is a good way to move up to management jobs if you’re convenient with working long hours.

Many food service managers positions don’t require a high school diploma since employers value your ability to learn while working.

You can demonstrate dilligence and competence withadditional responsibilities if you wish to manage a restaurant.

Being a manager requires the use of abilities, including team leadership, interpersonal skills, time management, and effective communication. 

Depending on the popularity of the restaurant, managers make good money with potential extra benefits. 

6. Care Assistant/Home Health Aide

Average annual salary: $27k

Care assistants provide extra support to people with disabilities or illnesses, either at their residence or in special places including retirement homes.

It is crucial to be kind, helpful, and expressive to different people; and maintain composure, be honest, and address problems when things get tough.

This job can be challenging—you have to be strong, caring, and understanding. A care assistant might be a good choice if you want to make a positive impact on society and can handle tough situations. 

For this position, a high school diploma is not a prerequisite, and you can undergo job-specific training. Many high school dropouts consider becoming care assistants.

7. Secretary/Administrative Assistant

Average annual salary: $40k

Secretaries and administrative assistants are crucial in keeping offices and businesses organized and efficient. They manage schedules, answer the phone, and organize documents, among other responsibilities.

A high school diploma may not be required for many positions; however, possessing one might help you stand out in a competitive employment market. 

Your performance in the interview and previous experience is crucial for hiring.

As you gain experience in this field, explore opportunities for career growth. You can be promoted to senior administrative roles where you take on more responsibilities and earn a higher income. 

Therefore, even though you don’t need a diploma to start, you can advance and build a successful career in this profession.

8. Chef

Average annual salary: $53k

Many successful chefs didn’t complete high school education. However, becoming a chef requires discipline and  dedication to work odd hours.

Typically, high school dropouts start with tasks such as washing dishes or assisting to cook. Furthermore, they learn from experienced chefs to prepare food, and clean up the kitchen after cooking.

Chefs work long hours; however, it can be a satisfying and well-paying job for those who are good at it. This profession depends on your culinary prowess and creativity, not your academic credentials.

Some chefs aspire to open their own restaurant; therefore, understanding how a kitchen operates is a fundamental step toward that goal.

9. Coffee Barista

Average annual salary: $24k

To become a barista, you don’t need a high school diploma. What matters most is your passion for coffee and the desire to learn.

As a barista, you are responsible for making and serving coffee and other beverages, often in a cafe or coffee shop. 

Your enthusiasm for coffee, good customer service skills, ability to operate complex machinery, and meticulousness can contribute to a successful career.

Notably, barista positions are competitive, with many coffee lovers vying for the job. 

Your likelihood of success may be influenced by your experience in similar position, or ability to sell yourself during an audition or interview.

You can advance to more senior ranks over time, including head barista or cafe manager, which often comes with additional responsibilities and pay potential.

10. Delivery Driver/Cab Driver

Delivery driver average annual salary: $44k

Uber driver average annual salary: $38k

Cab driver average annual salary: $32k

Several delivery driver jobs don’t require a high school diploma. Here, you pick up shipments or other products and ensure they get to their destination on schedule.

To increase your income, you can drive larger trucks across states if you obtain a special license.

For cab drivers, some have a high school diploma; however, it’s not mandatory. You can own a cab by purchasing a car and a meter, or you can work for a company such as Uber or Lyft.

You should be dependable, organized, and good at talking to people.

Being a driver could be a good choice if you didn’t complete high school education and want a steady job that is flexible. 

Additionally,, you can work as a professional driver for a higher annual salary if you have satisfactory experience and implement more profitable services. 

11. Carpenter/Joiner

Average annual salary: $49k

Joiners make furniture or construct and install building frames; becoming one can lead to a well-paying and stable career.

To get started, you often need to do an apprenticeship, where you learn and impress your trainer. When you begin, you’ll work with experienced joiners. 

Your skills and willingness to learn is more relevant than possessing a high school diploma. You also have to be creative and meticulous. This profession requires you to be accurate with measurements and numbers as well as to be resilient when things get tough.

Many businesses and people will want to hire you if you become good at your job. Experienced joiners often earn more because of their expertise.

Some even start their own joinery businesses and hire experts to help run the company while they focus on the hands-on work.

12. Mechanic

Average annual salary: $44k

In the car industry, you can be an automotive service technician or mechanic. As a beginner, you’ll fix cars and small trucks.

Seldomly, you might need to use computers to figure out what’s wrong with a vehicle. Don’t worry if you’re not a tech whiz right away; you can learn these skills on the job or take classes on the side to become more proficient.

As you gain experience and expertise, you’ll have the opportunity to work on larger vehicles and tackle more complex issues, with the possibility of earning a higher salary.

Moreover, this position is in high demand globally, thus there are many vacancies. As long as there are vehicles on the road, there will be a need for skilled mechanics. Therefore, you can enjoy a fulfilling career if you become experienced in this.

13. Electrician

Average annual salary: $55k

With predicted lifetime earnings of up to seven figures, becoming an electrician can be a very lucrative career choice. Furthermore, thedemand for electricians is high; therefore, you can find plenty of work opportunities.

As an electrician, your job is to install, monitor, and fix electrical systems in different places including businesses, factories, and homes. You’ll utilize power, lighting, control, and communications systems.

To be proficient, learn business skills, exercise, and solve problems. You’ll also need to be strong, able to think critically, identify different colors, and be friendly with customers.

Therefore, consider becoming an electrician if you’re interested in a job that pays well and has multiple opportunities. 

14. Graphics Designer

Average annual salary: $47k

Unlike full-time staff positions, freelancers often don’t have strict educational requirements. 

Therefore, you can easily find work on online freelancing platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork if you’re a skilled designer. You can explore various design fields including web design.

To increase your chances of getting hired, you can take some online courses and build a portfolio showcasing your best work. This demonstrates your skills to potential clients and helps you secure more freelance projects.

The same flexibility applies to other digital professionals including programmers, copywriters, and SEO specialists. They can freelance their skills and work for diverse companies and clients. 

Freelancing can be a great way to secure employment and build a successful career if you have expertise in these areas.

15. Machinist

Average annual salary: $47k

As a machinist (or tool and die maker), your work involves using various machines to craft precise metal components, often for industries such as manufacturing, aerospace, and automotive. 

This role requires physical stamina since you might spend long hours on your feet, and use heavy machinery. 

Your analytical, mechanical, technical and troubleshooting skills will come in handy as you troubleshoot issues and ensure the machines produce high-quality parts. 

Additionally, solid understanding of mathematics is crucial for measurements and calculations.

Many machinists find these professions to be fulfilling, particularly if you enjoy hands-on work and the satisfaction of creating precise components. 

It’s a career path that doesn’t hinge on having a high school diploma; rather, it requires values, skills, craftsmanship, and a knack for problem-solving. You can develop expertise and advance your career in this field over time.

16. Florist/Floral Designer

Florist average annual salary: $29k

Floral designer’s average annual salary: $55k

 Consider becoming a florist or a floral designer if you love design and being creative. 

Floral designers arrange flowers for people, locations, and occasions. Working beside an expert florist who will teach you all you need to know can help you learn about this profession.

You can work in different places, including personal flower shop or with a popular hotel’s flower team.

It is imperative to possess effective communication skills due to the frequent interactions with individuals, including customers and suppliers. In addition, you should be organized and friendly.

17. Cosmetologist 

Average annual salary: $31k

Try a job in cosmetology if you have interest in all things beauty. You’ll style hair, provide manicure and pedicure services, apply cosmetics, and nurture skin as a cosmetologist.

In certain places, you can enroll in a cosmetology school as early as 16 years old. 

A high school diploma may be a prerequisite for cosmetology; however, specialized on the job training programs are aslo available. In cosmetology school, you’ll learn the skills and techniques to become a professional. 

Besides, you’ll get practical experience, and many programs are flexible enough to accept students from various educational backgrounds, including those who didn’t complete high school.

Furthermore, you can work in salon spas or even establish beauty business once you’ve finished your training and obtained your license. It’s a field where you can let your creativity shine while helping people enhance their beauty.

18. Barber/Hair Stylist Assistant

Average annual salary: $37k

You can still become a barber or a hair stylist assistant without high school diploma. Here, you will assist experienced barbers or stylists with various tasks in a salon or barbershop.

It is your responsibility to wash hair, prepare the tools for use, and keep the place tidy. Ensure to learn and develop skills, such as hair care and customer service, as you progress.

Pay close attention to detail, treat clients with respect, and adopt good communication skills if you want to succeed in this position.

A career in the beauty business might result from working as a barber or hairstylist’s assistant. You can become a fully-fledged barber or stylist with additional training and practice.

19. Sales Representative

Average annual salary: $58k

When wholesale and manufacturer companies hire salespeople, they focus more on your ability to persuade and negotiate rather than your academic credentials.

Successful salespeople can earn substantial amount from a commission on what they sell.

This is an ideal job If you’re good at communicating with others, welcoming customers, and getting along with new people. 

As you get better at this job, you can slowly climb the professional ladder—to a supervisor  and subsequently store or area manager, where you’ll lead a team of sales representatives. 

These roles will develop your management and leadership skills, and they often come with higher pay.

20. Entrepreneur

Average annual salary: Variable

Many young people take inspiration from Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates and drop out of high school or college with aspirations to start their own multi-million-dollar business. 

While many people discourage dropouts from launching their own enterprise, labeling them “wishful thinkers,” some have turned their dreams into reality and established successful businesses. 

They understand that a high school or college degree does not guarantee success. Instead, a planned-out strategy, innovative ideas, drive, work hard ethics, and bravery in the face of difficulty are what make an enterpreneur successful.

You can make a lot of money by implementing your ideas into a business. It can also mean jobs for others and chances to grow your business in the future.

21. Digital Marketer 

Average annual salary: Variable

Primarily, a digital marketer facilitates online audience connections for businesses and brands. Here, you have to work on plans for promoting goods or services, provide engaging content, and use data to improve marketing.

It doesn’t require a high school certificate; however,  it is essential to understand the online environment and have the flexibility to respond with emerging digital trends. 

To prepare for this role, seek job experience or sign up for online classes to learn about search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and email marketing.

You must be a great communicator, creative, and good at understanding the needs of your clients to be successful in this field. You may advance your career in digital marketing as you gain more experience and demonstrate your abilities. 

Academic qualifications become less significant in this profession, and your ability to obtain results online takes precedence.

22. Virtual Assistant

Average annual salary: $30,235–$60,000

Virtual Assistants (VAs) provide a wide range of administrative, technical, and sales or marketing services to clients remotely.

Many VA jobs don’t require any formal education or training. You can use the skills and experience you already have to get started as a VA. For example, you can become a social media marketing VA if you’re proficient with the use of social media. Alternatively, you can become a content writing VA if you’re good at writing.

VAs are in high demand, and different types of VA jobs are available. You can find VA jobs that require various skills and experience levels, thus there’s a good chance you’ll find a suitable job. In the US, a general VA might charge $10–$60 per hour, depending on the service and the level of skill.

You can choose to work full-time, part-time, or as-needed. Similarly, you can choose to work from anywhere in the world as long as there is a reliable internet connection. This makes it a good option for college or high school dropouts who are looking for a flexible and virtual arrangement.

As you gain experience and build up a client base, you can increase your rates and take multiple jobs. Once you land your first few clients, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful career as a freelance VA.

23. Freelance writer

Average annual salary: $41,000–$125,000

Freelance writing is a profitable online job for dropouts because it doesn’t require a college degree. You can get started as a freelance writer even if you don’t have any formal training. All you need is good writing skills and a willingness to learn.

Furthermore, it’s flexible—you can choose to work full-time, part-time, or as-needed. You can also choose to work from anywhere in the world, as long as there is a reliable internet connection.

Freelance writers are in high demand, and different types of freelance writing jobs exist. These jobs often require diverse skills and experience; therefore, there’s a good chance you’ll find a suitable job.

Are Dropouts More Successful than Graduates?

Dropouts may or may not be more successful than graduates. Success depends on many factors, like individual goals, skills, and opportunities.

Some dropouts have become successful entrepreneurs, artists, or professionals. They realized their passion and worked hard to achieve their goals at the expense of high school. 

However, not having a diploma can limit job options and earning potential.

Graduates often have multiple job opportunities and may earn more. However, success partially depends on graduates’ utilization of their education and skills.

Ultimately, it depends on how hard you work, what you seek, and how you take advantage of your opportunities, whether you have a degree or not.

Final Thoughts: Highest Paying Jobs for High School Dropout

Recent statistics indicate that up to 32.9% of undergraduates do not finish their studies. Nonetheless, it’s not the end of the road.

Numerous fulfilling jobs for high school dropouts are available. While not having a diploma may make it difficult to secure employment, it doesn’t necessarily limit one’s chances of success. 

These 23 positions are spread throughout several sectors, highlighting the value of knowledge, commitment, and a solid work ethic. 

Therefore, aspirational dropouts who want to explore a world of opportunities and create a successful future should start with these options.

Rebecca White
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