When it comes to a university degree, many students' main takeaway is that it was a fantastic way to waste a lot of money. Crippling debt is far too much of a reality for students, and while you may think that fancy piece of paper guarantees you a solid job, think again.
But we aren’t here to talk about the pitfalls of the college graduate in the working world. Instead, we're here to highlight some of the best careers you can get into without attaining a degree.
Fat pay cheques, job security and everything you could want in your dream job can be attained with just a high school diploma.
Do you doubt me? You won’t by the end of this list. Also highlighted for many of these jobs is the average salary, as well as what the job expectancy rate is projected to be in the near future.
Sure, you may not get to join a fraternity, but you can use that money you saved on tuition to throw some wild house parties!
15 Postal Worker
When it comes to inherent advantages that come with a job, one of the main ones is a job that also keeps you physically active. Sure, you may love that cushy office job where you have a vending machine down the hall, but you know who doesn’t love it? Your waistline.
Working for the U.S. Postal Service is not only a low-stress job according to employees when they were asked about it, but with an average salary of $52,860, you won’t exactly be hurting for cash either.
If you move up to the role of Postmaster, your salary can top out at roughly $90,000 a year. Not to shabby at all for a job that requires no college diploma.
14 Real Estate Broker
I think the most depressing thing about being a real estate broker, is the horrible irony if you ended up failing and becoming homeless! Granted this definitely is not the easiest of jobs, but in Canada, a broker earns an average salary of $65,553 per year. The upper-end of the scale will be clearing over $120,000 annually.
Most people in the industry (41%) have under 4 years of experience, so don’t feel too intimidated getting your feet wet. As well as selling real estate, you may also oversee renting out properties.
It was projected that there will be over 16,000 job openings in this field through 2022.
13 Construction Worker
While the word “construction” is a little open-ended, you definitely have to admit it’s a fantastic career path to get into if you want to make your mark with your hands and not your diploma. Especially when you consider First-Line supervisors of construction trades in particular, are expected to have 187,000 job postings opening through 2022. If you are a general laborer on a site, the average salary is around $17 an hour with many employees relying on overtime to help pad their bank account.
If you’re able to work your way up to being a construction foreman and still on hourly, you’re bringing on average $29 an hour. People with 10-20 years experience in this particular field are typically bringing in around $66,000 a year.
The main thing you need to be concerned with when it comes to this job is your overall safety. In 2014, construction related deaths made up 20.5% of all workplace fatalities (with a total of 899). Of those 899, 359 were fatalities related to falling.
You have to admit, of all the jobs on this list, firefighting might be the one that makes you seem like the biggest badass. And with an average salary of $58,000, you definitely have some money kicking around to buy some equally badass things. If you’re able to work your way up to becoming a Fire Chief, your salary jumps up to roughly $80,000. You just need to hope you also succeed at that job, because you can add another $30,000 to your salary if you move your way up to being a Fire Captain.
On top of fighting fires, it just seems like it would be a lot of fun to be hanging out with your firefighting buddies back at the fire hall. Plus, this by far the more respectable job you can get that involves sliding down a pole.
11 Executive Chef
While you may spend some time at culinary school (or being yelled at by Gordon Ramsay), you definitely don’t need to be spending 4 years hitting the books for your degree to prove to people that you’re able to be a good cook. Not to mention that being able to cook is just one of those life skills that makes everything easier. Food becomes cheaper, healthier and tastier when you put the effort into the kitchen.
Up in Canada, an executive chef will bring home roughly $58,000. Depending on the level of quality that the restaurant you are working at, that payday can definitely get a lot higher as well. You can hope that if you’re working at a fancy enough restaurant, being able to bring home some food for dinner would also be a pretty nice perk!
10 Subway Operator
If you are a subway operator, you are responsible for regulating the speed of subway trains, trams or other elevated trains that run on tracks. You must also be aware of potential hazards on the track.
Most of your training is done on the job, and there is a projected job growth of 4.7% through 2024. Despite a job that seems pretty easy in theory, in 2015, the average salary was $62,360.
Complete training on the job can take roughly 6 months and workers are typically pre-trained by driving a bus. Part of the training will also include practicing driving trains and solving simulated driving problems that may occur, as well as making sure they are familiar with different evacuation processes and how to solve potential problems.
9 Professional YouTuber
When people are clicking on your YouTube video, I doubt they’re caring what your educational background is. But if you end up creating a following on YouTube you can definitely bring in the bucks while still having a pretty enjoyable and relaxing job. Your hours tend to be flexible, provided you still produce the content you need to get done. Then there’s always the chance your content becomes popular enough that it starts opening up the door to other money making ventures (such as merchandising).
It was reported that 1,000 views will bring in roughly $1.50 in revenue for a YouTuber. This, of course, changes dramatically though if your content gets sponsors or advertisers that will help you bring in some bigger cheques.
One of the biggest ways YouTube creators make money is going through the site Patreon which allows their fans to “sponsor” their content with monthly donations. In doing so, creators know if hypothetically they have 100 “patreons” that all kick in some money, they will make a minimum of $1,000 per video they put out.
One of the biggest examples on the site is Peter Hollens who creates music videos, has 1,637 Patreons and makes $7,692 per video.
8 "Alternative" Film Star
Now, just because they may star in some movies in which they’re wearing school clothes, don’t be fooled and think that most film stars have college degrees!
When looking at the money they earn, look no further than Mark Spiegler, one of the top talent agents in the adult film industry. Back in 2012, he opened up in an interview saying that a decade ago, the average female performer was bringing in $100,000 a year. The salary has dropped dramatically, with an average worker bringing in about $50,000. Spiegler also said some of the top male performers are bringing in around $100,000.
Most of the other performers work under a pay-scale that Spiegler said is pretty standard: $800 for girl-girl, $1,000 for guy-girl, at least $1,200 for any rear entry and over $4,000 if there’s entry from all over the place!
You need to hope this is a job that you’d have a lot of fun at, but there are definitely some horror stories of women who become addicted to drugs or alcohol as a result of their work. Other adult film stars may also work as professional escorts, which can dramatically increase the amount they bring in.
As for job security? Adult entertainment probably isn't going out of style anytime soon.
7 Police Officer
While they may not have the nicest reputation in the public eye anymore, there are definitely some police stations out there that will hire someone who just has a high-school degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you just need to be 21 years old, have a valid driver’s license, be a United States citizen and have no prior convictions.
Along with hopefully getting some nice benefits that come with being a cop, the average officer had a yearly salary of $58,320.
Once hired, but before you go out into live duty, you’ll typically go through the Police Academy. The academy will test both your mental and physical skills and is often done over a 12-14 week program. It was reported that the career will show a growth of 5% by 2024.
6 Elevator Technician
While you definitely will need to go through some training, it definitely won’t be done at your typical post-secondary educational institution. Apprenticeship programs are often offered through your employment and cane take up to 4 years to complete. By the end of your training, you will be able to use different equipment to help test the function of elevators, residential lifts and escalators.
This job has one of the highest growth rates going forward, with employment in the field expected to grow by 13% by 2024. It's also one of the highest paying careers on our list, with an average salary of $77,350.
There are also different types of certificates (such as Certified Elevator Technician) that can be obtained after 2 years of self-director study followed by a certification exam.
5 Transportation, Storage and Distribution Manager
Anytime you can clear $85,400 on average with a job that doesn’t require any education, you can consider yourself pretty lucky. In this career, you are typically responsible for allocating and shipping merchandise in ways that are thought to be cost-effective.
That means you need to be able to develop a strong budget, analyze costs and make sure that everything is being done legally.
While this may not be the most common job that came to your mind, it was reported in 2014 that there were roughly 106,000 people working in this field according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The career path is also expected to grow by 5% from 2012-2022.
In 2014, the highest paid worker in this field was paid $146,110 a year! Even the lowest-paid workers on the list were still able to bring in roughly $50,640 per year.
4 Legal Support Worker
Do you have a dream of helping out in a courtroom, but you would never invest the time and money that law school requires? Well, why not be the next best thing (kind of) and become a Legal Support Worker? You’ll be responsible for helping out lawyers with a variety of tasks including preparing written reports, securing affidavits and helping organize and track files from different case documents. Essentially you’d be there to make sure your buddy (the lawyer) always looks like he’s prepared and ready to go.
Definitely not the most glamorous of jobs, but at least you can tell yourself you didn’t go into debt getting the training you need, as a high school diploma is definitely okay to get your feet wet.
In 2015, LSW’s made an annual wage of $53,920.
3 Transit Police Officer
Sure, you could become an official cop, but doesn’t it just sound like it’d be a lot more chill to be a transit cop? If you’re a transit cop that is working through the transit company itself, your powers are definitely limited, but you still deal with matters related to trespassing, assault, robbery, ticket fraud and drug dealing.
The job has an average salary of $59,760 and has a 4% career outlook through 2024. Some specific cities may require additional training. For example, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority requires you to undergo over 1,000 hours of performance and academic training.
You also need to have proper firearms and first aid training, and be aware of several different self-defense tactics.
While there are definitely some established actors who went through extensive training, something tells me if they had a 4-year degree in geography that it probably wouldn’t be too relevant on the movie set.
It’s definitely clear that acting is a well-paying job, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that the road to Hollywood is not full of people that were struggling actors who eventually gave up on their craft. If you succeed, you have the chance to influence the world in one of the most impactful of ways. But you better be prepared to also have a few different career options on the back burner. If you’re looking on how to get started, many actors got their start through theater or sketch comedy groups. At the very least participating in Improv classes can be a great time.
It’s hard to get an average salary of an actor/performer (as they’re classified), but according to salary.com, their salary ranges from $44,116-$65,383.
He may be a fictional character, but Derek Zoolander definitely wasn’t exactly the smartest guy around and he was a 3-time Male Model of the Year! When it comes to making a career as a model, it’s definitely going to be a lot more important that you know how to capture your best angles for that perfect selfie than remembering what your calculus professor said last week.
Because your look is the most important part of your success, making sure you are living a healthy and active lifestyle can definitely be one of the toughest parts of staying successful. Many women in Hollywood got their start as models and then decided to translate their looks to acting. One of the more recent examples of this is Cara Delevingne.
Sources: study.com, americasjobexchange.com, payscale.com, patreon.com
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