CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists List the Best Paying Jobs for Workers with High School Degrees

115 occupations that require a high school degree pay $20 per hour or more

CHICAGO – Aug 14, 2014 – U.S. workers with only a high school diploma face an unemployment rate nearly twice that of college educated workers (6.1 to 3.1) and earn significantly less on average.* Despite this disparity, workers without college degrees do have options for lucrative careers. A new analysis from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI) details the best paying occupations for workers with high school degrees, and the type of training it takes to get the job.

As of this year, there are 115 occupations that require a high school diploma and pay $20 per hour or more on average. Of those, 70 percent typically require moderate to long-term on-the-job training or apprenticeships; 30 percent typically require short-term or no on-the-job training. In several of these jobs, workers may need to attend vocational school or other non-college-level training programs to achieve licensure or certification. Additionally, entry-level requirements will vary by state, locality and employer.**

“While the pursuit of higher education is the best bet for gainful employment, it is a myth that only good jobs go to college graduates and that workers with high school degrees are destined to low-wage careers,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “It’s important to note, however, that most high-paying jobs available to high school grads involve skill sets that require extensive post-secondary training or several-years’ worth of prior experience, and are often in fields that have seen declining employment in recent years.”

Haefner added that the slack labor market following the recession caused many employers to recruit college educated workers for jobs previously performed by high school grads, as detailed in a recent CareerBuilder survey.

The Ten Highest-Paying Jobs for High School Graduates: Short-term or No Training

High-paying occupations for high school graduates aren’t necessarily entry-level jobs. For instance, first-line supervisors, regardless of discipline, typically require 1-5 years of prior work experience. The following are the ten highest-paying, non-farm jobs that require a high school diploma for minimum entry and require short-term or no on-the-job training:

Occupation Med. Hourly Earnings 2014 Jobs 2010 – 2014 Growth On-The-Job Training
Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers $39.27 104,095 7% None
First-Line Supervisors of Non-Retail Sales Workers $34.27 252,593 6% None
Gaming Managers $31.99 5,131 1% None
Real Estate Brokers $29.48 51,154 6% None
First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers $29.20 496,262 9% None
First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers $29.13 442,191 6% None
Legal Support Workers, All Other*** $26.97 52,754 -1% Short-term
Postal Service Mail Carriers $26.75 283,715 -10% Short-term
Transit and Railroad Police $26.71 4,439 1% Short-term
Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers $26.00 170,463 7% None

The Ten Highest-Paying Jobs for High School Graduates: Moderate or Long-term Training
The following table shows the ten highest paying, non-farm jobs that require a high school diploma for minimum entry and require an apprenticeship or moderate-to-long-term training. Occupations that require longer periods of on-the-job training typically pay more than jobs with shorter ramp-up times. However, five of the ten highest paying occupations for high school graduates in these categories have lost jobs since 2010. Nuclear Power Reactor Operators, Elevator Installers and Repairers and Transportation Inspectors have all seen healthy growth.

Occupation Med. Hourly Earnings 2014 Jobs 2010 – 2014 Growth On-The-Job Training
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives $39.16 100,913 -2% Moderate-term
Elevator Installers and Repairers $36.51 21,300 4% Apprenticeship
Detectives and Criminal Investigators $36.33 113,897 -3% Moderate-term
Nuclear Power Reactor Operators $36.18 7,209 4% Long-term
Commercial Pilots $35.73 34,578 -1% Moderate-term
Power Distributors and Dispatchers $34.57 11,467 1% Long-term
Power Plant Operators $32.13 40,024 -3% Long-term
Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers $30.92 116,184 6% Long-term
Transportation Inspectors $30.21 26,059 6% Moderate-term
Postmasters and Mail Superintendents $30.17 22,285 -9% Moderate-term

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Situation, July 2014; workers 25 and older.

**Minimum entry-level education retirements are defined by the BLS.

***All legal support workers not listed separately; does not include Paralegals, Court Reporters, Title Examiners or Legal Assistants.

About EMSI

Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., a CareerBuilder company, turns labor market data into useful information that helps organizations understand the connection between economies, people, and work. Using sound economic principles and good data, EMSI builds user-friendly services that help educational institutions, workforce planners, and regional developers build a better workforce and improve the economic conditions in their regions. For more information, visit

About CareerBuilder®

CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract great talent. Its online career site,®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors and 1 million jobs. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing everything from labor market intelligence to talent management software and other recruitment solutions. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information,

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