It’s no secret that people with college degrees tend to earn more than those with only a high school diploma. According to the latest U.S. census, people with only a high school diploma earned $34,960 on average, whereas those with a bachelor’s degree earned an average salary of $55,590.
Still, it’s possible to earn a very good living with only a high school education—you just have to know where to look.
The financial news website 24/7 Wall St. rounded up the top 7 best-paying jobs for people with only a high school diploma. Some of these may surprise you!
Subway and streetcar operators
Median annual income: $62,730
Subway and streetcar operators are paid well for a few reasons, according to 24/7 Wall St. First, they’re responsible for ensuring the safety of large groups of people every day, and second, the job requires a fair bit of flexibility, as subways usually operate at night, weekends, and on major holidays.
Median annual income: $62,860
Fashion design is a hard market to break, but if you’re talented and lucky enough, the rewards can be great: the top 10 percent of designers earned over $126,000 last year. However, the bottom 10 percent earned less than around $34,000.
Power distributors and dispatchers
Median annual income: $71,690
Power distributors and dispatchers monitor the flow of electricity from generators through distribution lines, and are responsible for any related maintenance. The job demands a high attention to detail and also requires extensive training and licensing.
Detectives and criminal investigators
Median annual income: $74,300
Many detectives and criminal investigators start off as police officers, says 24/7 Wall St., and must undergo extensive on-the-job training. They should also possess more intangible qualities such as good communication skills, leadership, and sound judgment in a crisis.
Nuclear power reactor operators
Median annual income: $74,990
Like power distributors, nuclear reactor operators must undergo extensive on-site training. A college degree is not required for the job, but people in this profession usually have an aptitude for math and science.
Elevator installers and repairers
Median annual income: $76,650
A college degree may not be required for this rigorous job, but elevator installers and repairers undergo thousands of hours of paid on-the-job training. According to 24/7 Wall St., a four-year apprenticeship is common, during which candidates learn about electrical theory, math, and applied physics.
Airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers
Median annual income: $114,200
Most pilots these days have a Bachelor’s degree, according to 24/7 Wall St., but it’s also possible to gain qualification through the military or by attending flight school. Professional pilots are required to hold a commercial pilot’s license.