15 Best Jobs for High School Dropouts List of Jobs for High School Dropouts Employment Advice for High School Dropouts Takeaways
15 Best Jobs for High School Dropouts List of Jobs for High School Dropouts Employment Advice for High School Dropouts Takeaways
Updated 25/01/2021

15 Best Jobs for High School Dropouts

Looking for a job after dropping high school? See our list of the best career options with no diploma requirements. Get valuable tips on how to prepare a winning job application.

Looking for a job after dropping high school? See our list of the best career options with no diploma requirements. Get valuable tips on how to prepare a winning job application.

Undoubtedly, the education process prepares young people for coping with various life tasks, including work. It trains and enhances mental abilities, broadens the mind, and provides a broader career development choice. However, a high school diploma is not always an obligatory requirement for getting employed and receiving worthy labor compensation.

If you left your high school for some reason, there is no need to stress about a lack of career choices. There is a variety of jobs that hire high school dropouts. In the recent Economic News Release by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people with no high school diploma is only 1.3% higher than for high school graduates (9.0% compared to 7.7% for November 2020).

Educational attainmentNot seasonally adjusted
Seasonally adjusted

Less than a high school diploma

Civilian labor force


Participation rate




Employment-population ratio



Unemployment rate

High school graduates, no college
Civilian labor force

Participation rate


Employment-population ratio


Unemployment rate

In recent years, the correlation between salary and education degree has become less noticeable. More and more companies focus on talent, practical skills, and experience, eliminating a degree requirement. Keep reading to find out what jobs a highschool dropout can get and how much you can earn in the chosen profession.

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List of Jobs for High School Dropouts

Most careers for people without a high school diploma imply manual labor or human servicing. Some of them can bring decent wages comparable to those available for high school or college graduates. Take a look at your primary options to understand the requirements and responsibilities better. Wages are taken from the BLS.

1. Electrician

Electricians maintain the electrical systems for municipal infrastructure, homes, commercial buildings, and manufacturing facilities. They also install and set up new electrical equipment and wiring. The responsibilities vary, the same as the education requirements.

Becoming a certified electrician is available for high school dropouts after completing professional training courses. After getting a certificate, you can start working in an apprenticeship program to practice under qualified colleagues' supervision.

Average salary: $56,180/year or $27 per hour.

2. Automotive technician

If cars are your passion and you are well-versed in car repair and maintenance, consider a career as an automotive technician. It is one of the most approachable careers for high school dropouts. Often employers don’t require any formal education or certificates, offering on-the-job training. What matters here is your practical skills and problem-solving capabilities.

Usually, car technicians perform standard car maintenance work and inspect various problems and repair them. What makes you flexible in this profession is a good grasp of multiple vehicles and fuel systems. The range of responsibilities often depends on the business scale: smaller firms prefer do-all technicians. At the same time, larger companies hire mechanics with narrow specialization.

Average salary: $42,090/year or $20.24/hour.

3. Firefighter

Firefighters put out any kind of fire. This profession deals with emergency calls for rescuing people from burning buildings, suppressing industrial fires, and recovery works after various disasters and accidents related to flame development.

It is a challenging occupation that requires physical fitness and endurance, strong teamwork and problem-solving skills, confidence, and courage. To become a firefighter, you need to pass education in a firefighting academy that accepts high school dropouts. There you will get all the necessary skills in putting out fires and giving first aid. After getting hired, employees receive additional on-the-job training.

Average salary: $50,850 per year or $24.45 per hour.

4. Plumber

Plumbers maintain pipes in water and gas supply systems and install plumbing fixtures and appliances, including washing machines, dishwashers, toilets, etc. They do all kinds of repair and clean waste from pipes both for home and industrial facilities.

Plumbers usually learn their work on apprenticeship programs that combine theory classes with paid on-the-job practical training. After 2 years of hands-on experience and passing an exam, you will be able to get a license to widen your career opportunities. The top skills required for this profession include physical strength, troubleshooting, critical thinking, and verbal communication.

Average salary: $55,160 per year or $26.52 per hour. If you start as a plumber helper, expect a salary of $36,000/year.

5. Farmer

Farming offers several types of jobs for high school dropouts. Starting as a seasonal farmhand, you can develop your career up to a farm manager. This profession implies various works related to crop growing and harvesting, cattle breeding, taking care of the territory and equipment, managing the supply and distribution.

As a rule, entry-level farming positions imply on-the-job training, without initial requirements for being a certified specialist. Further, you may require some qualification courses for career progression.

Average salary: $28,350/year or $13.63/hour. Farm managers earn $71,160/year with an hourly rate of $34.21.

6. Construction worker

The construction industry offers lots of specializations for candidates without experience and a high school diploma. You can load and unload building materials, build scaffolding, do brickwork, operate building machinery, and a lot more. Depending on duties, you may need to obtain a license or go for vocational training. However, entry-level construction jobs are available with on-the-job training and no additional education requirements.

The top skills for construction workers are endurance, physical strength, learning and listening capabilities, teamwork skills, hand-eye coordination, and communication.

Average salary: $36,000/year or $17.31/hour.

7. Customer support representative

Almost any company in the service and trade industries hire customer support consultants. They typically assist customers in making orders, handling returns, and getting all information about products or services. Handling complaints is another primary duty. Customer support is aimed to keep every client satisfied, whether the purchase was successful or there were some issues regarding the service.

If you are a good communicator and like working with people, this career path may fit you. If you know a foreign language, it will also be a plus for international employers.

Average salary: $34,710/year or $16.69/hour

8. Equipment operator

Various heavy machinery operates under the control of an equipment operator. Heavy machines include bulldozers, excavators, cranes, and other equipment widely used in construction, manufacturing, warehouse, etc.

Employers mostly offer apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training for beginners. You will also need a driver’s license.

Average salary: $48,160/year or $23.16/hour.

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9. Waitress/Waiter

Waitress/Waiter is one of the most popular jobs that hire high school dropouts. The standard duties include taking orders from restaurant or cafe visitors, answering questions regarding the menu, advising proper drinks, bringing dishes and beverages to the table, and processing payments.

If you are a good communicator, like working with people, and can handle long shifts on your feet, waitressing may be the right choice.

Average salary: $22,890/year or $11.00/hour.

10. Security guard

Security guards are responsible for keeping the territory safe and secure. In commercial enterprises, a guard monitors buildings and surrounding areas to prevent theft attempts and other illegal intrusions. If it is a public place, security guards take care of public peace and ensure that people follow public behavior rules.

Requirements usually include attentiveness to details, physical strength, endurance, and good communication skills. As a rule, a hiring company performs on-the-job training.

Average salary: $29,710/year or $14.29/hour.

11. Heavy truck driver

Heavy truck drivers transport goods from one location to another. Often such work implies days or even weeks away from home. You need a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to be able to drive such vehicles. While training courses for obtaining a CDL are available for high school dropouts, some employers prefer candidates with a high school diploma or GED. Nevertheless, 12% to 15% of heavy truck drivers do not have a diploma.

Average salary: $45,260/year or $21.76/hour.

12. Taxi driver

Taxis are the most popular transport in big cities. To become a taxi driver, you often need only a driving license and a car. Today services like Uber allow all comers to try themselves in this profession. Due to the pandemic, taxi transport is often used as a delivery service for foods and goods, increasing drivers' demand.

Average salary: $36,150/year. It varies greatly depending on the location and your work schedule.

13. Programmer

Programming is often a hobby for school students that turns into a profession. It is one of the TOP high paying jobs for high school dropouts. Lots of programmers begin with self-education and practicing as a freelancer. A highly responsive online community and diversity of online education courses give all the necessary knowledge to start a programming career. Most employers prefer a college degree for their in-house specialists. However, freelancers have no strict education requirements. If you build a decent portfolio, you’ll have a good chance to get hired into a big software company.

Average salary: $107,510/year or $51.69/hour.

14. Designer

If you have an eye for design and are skilled at creating graphics, you can monetize it by working as a designer. You can choose from multiple niches: web graphic design, commercial design, game design, fashion, etc. It is a profession where a portfolio speaks for your qualification and talent. You can create a portfolio from your personal works, training, and freelance projects. It would be a great entry point for future employment.

Average salary: $52,110/year or $25.05/hour.

15. Freelance Writer

If writing is your hobby, try yourself in freelance writing. It is a high-demand area for many businesses. Companies with websites and social network profiles hire freelance or in-house writers to create text content and advertisements. You can create blog posts, help in writing various documents and reports. The must-have skills are strong grammar and an extensive vocabulary, excellent research capabilities, and attentiveness to details. The salary highly depends on how much you write. Usually, more experienced writers with a decent portfolio win more lucrative projects.

Average salary: $52,807/year or $25.3/hour.


Employment Advice for High School Dropouts

If you have a goal to find a job and start earning money, you should realize an important fact: your opportunities are endless. The lack of a high school diploma or some higher degree is just a small obstacle. Here are a few steps on how to overcome it.

1. Define with your choice

Analyze your skills, interests, and the things you like to do and can do well. It will help to select professions where you can succeed. After making your choice, google available job openings, and carefully learn the hiring requirements. If the employer offers an apprenticeship program or on-the-job training, you can start right away. If there is a requirement for a professional certificate, you will need to pass a vocational training course.

2. Create professional documents for job applications

Employers who accept high school dropouts pay attention to how a candidate prepares their job application. Creating a professional resume and cover letter that speaks for your potential and makes you stand out from the crowd is your chance to get hired. If you don’t have a diploma, correctly composed application documents will help you present your strong sides and convince an employer to hire you.

A resume should be correctly structured, informative, and highly relevant to the employer’s requirements. If you already have some work experience, it would be reasonable to compose a chronological resume that briefly describes your past jobs. Applicants without prior experience should create a functional resume that displays all their skills most useful for the target role.

Besides a resume, write a cover letter to convince the hiring person of your suitability for the position. Here you can briefly explain why you dropped out of high school, describe how exactly your skills can be used for the company’s benefit, and tell about your motivation to get employed in this specific company. Write an individual cover letter for each position you apply for.

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3. Learn by doing

Do whatever you need to get practice. If your dream job requires a portfolio, you can start some projects on your own to get works you can show to employers. If your target job requires having experience, you can go for a volunteering or trainee position to get the necessary practical skills. Employers consider such initiatives as high enthusiasm and passion, and it will be a huge plus during the hiring process.

4. Start from lower positions

It may take some time to move up the career ladder to the desired role. Start from a lower-level job in the company, work for a few years to gain a good reputation, and ask for a promotion. Most employers value hard-workers and prefer promoting their current employees instead of searching for new candidates from the outside.



People without a diploma have countless choices to develop a career. Ambitiousness, hard work, ability to learn, and believing in yourself can compensate for the lack of education and experience. The professions on our list do not require completing secondary education. Be proactive in your job search, use every opportunity to develop your skills, and you can succeed in your chosen profession.

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