15 Best Paying Jobs for College Dropouts Right Now

by Erin Schollaert


Being a college dropout doesn’t mean that your career opportunities have to end!

On the contrary, there are plenty of jobs for college dropouts that offer the chance at a fulfilling career; you just have to know where to look and expect to learn on the job.

These are options more people should consider, ranging from just over the national average to 6 figure jobs without a degree. Don’t be afraid to consider a career change in your future!

15. Pharmacy Tech

Average yearly income: $35,100 (U.S. News)

As a pharmacy technician, you get to start out at the bottom of the medical field and can build your way up to other high paying jobs with little schooling.

The only schooling needed for this technical and interesting job is a high school diploma and an eye for detail!

This job gives you the chance to advance as far as possible and possibly work towards an education down the road. Follow these tips on finding a job to improve your chances of starting this rewarding career path.

14. Waste Disposal


Average yearly income: $43,111 (ZipRecruiter)

Although some may turn up their noses to waste disposal, this job allows you to enjoy an active lifestyle while getting paid well and working a set schedule every week.

Although there’s no education required for this, if you can work up to a manager’s position, their roles get paid over $100,000 every year.

Waste disposal is one of the most recession proof jobs that will be needed regardless of the state of the world.

Trend on the Rise

This role is expected to grow another 7% within the next year, with an already massive 1.25 million people employed in this industry this year.

13. Brick Mason

Average yearly income: $47,090 (CareerExplorer)

Brick masonry may sound like a job that would be done in the 1800s, but becoming a stonemason takes two to three years of on-the-job paid training. Working for a startup is the perfect way to get your foot in the door.

Not only do you get to learn a hands-on skill that will always have value, but you also get to be creative and grow your skills as you grow.

If you become good enough, you can even start your own bricklaying business and make much more money every year.

12. Funeral Director

Average yearly income: $49,748 (Payscale)

If you can handle a job that comes with emotional families and the idea of death every single day, you might be the right fit to work as a funeral director.

As the director, you won’t handle the bodies or have to deal with cremation but will instead plan the funeral itself, help families decide on plots, and give them the options available for picking a casket or whatever other options are available.

There are many facets to this job, making it a great career for jack of all trades.

Tactic for Success

If you want to succeed in the funeral business, many seek alternative burial and disposal methods. As a funeral director, pairing with green burial companies as an option for your clients will allow you to grow your business faster.

11. Firefighter


Average yearly income: $51,240 (CareerExplorer)

Many are surprised that firefighters are paid just $50,000- but this is the entry-level pay. The more you do this job, the more you can climb the ranks and make more money.

This is a highly rewarding and extremely physically draining job that will leave you knowing that you did something good that day and that you helped people.

This is best for physically fit people and can take on a lot of exertion and stress.

10. Aircraft Service Tech

Average yearly income: $51,482 (Zippia)

Many aircraft service techs enter this occupation with just a high school diploma and can receive the on-the-job training required to learn the skills needed to pass the FAA exams.

This on-the-job training gives you the chance to become familiar with the aircraft, get to know how physically draining this job is, and helps you learn more about what this entails.

This is a job built for anyone who’s detail-oriented. This role often comes with other perks, like getting to enjoy free miles for some companies or traveling at a major discount compared to prices you’d see otherwise.

9. Wind Turbine Technician

Average yearly income: $56,230 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Wind turbines are a quickly growing energy source that seems to be spreading faster every day.

Because of this, there’s been a huge boost in hiring for people who can maintain and work on these machines.

In addition, you only need a high school diploma. Then like all other jobs on this list, there’s a ton of on-the-job education that will allow you to grow into a position that can eventually lead to a leadership position.

Trend on the Rise

There are over 65,000 wind turbines in America, supporting nearly 9% of American power: and every turbine needs maintenance multiple times a year- this is a great role to grow in.

8. USPS Worker

Average yearly income: $62,257 (Payscale)

USPS workers are fortunate enough to get to bring people the best part of the day: mail and packages!

In this role, you’ll get to enjoy government health care and benefits, easy work hours, and in the holiday season, many customers on rural routes leave tips in mailboxes for their postal workers.

This is a great role for anyone with the equivalent of a high school diploma.

7. Freelance Writer

Average yearly income: $63,213 (ZipRecruiter)

Freelance writing is a thrilling job because it allows you to tackle as many different topics as you can handle.

Whether that means you want to ghostwrite romance, or you’re more interested in writing technical articles for publications: this job only requires that you’re good at writing, fast, and able to stick to deadlines!

If you have a hard time being on your feet, this is an exciting job that doesn’t require standing.

Tactic for Success

As a freelance writer, you must choose a niche and ensure that you continue to work on personal projects as you make money as a freelancer. Working on your own projects can eventually turn into passive income that will allow you to make money without working your fingers to the bone.

6. Real Estate Agent


Average yearly income: $68,256 (The Close)

Real estate agents get to start in this high-gain position with nothing but a high school degree.

Of course, if you want to work your way up to being a realtor, you will have to take some more classes, but working as a real estate agent doesn’t even require certification in many states yet allows you to make major money on commissions selling homes!

This role requires that you’re extremely people-friendly, you can read people easily to seal a deal, and that you’re able to drive and travel between locations.

5. Personal Trainer

Average yearly income: $63,573 (Salary.com)

If you’re good at working one on one with people, and you’re capable of taking on the work of improving their lives with them, it’s a good idea to consider becoming a personal trainer!

In this role, you can enjoy working with a large selection of people, help them solve the problems that plague their lives and feel the reward of knowing you’re doing an important job.

4. Truck Driver

Average yearly income: $77,527 (Indeed)

Although you will have to gain your commercial drivers’ license, this is training that some companies will pay you to do if you’ll agree to work with them for at least a year.

As a truck driver, you can enjoy the open roads, take in beautiful views, and enjoy listening to your favorite music while traveling the country.

This only requires a high school education, but it’s worth it.

3. Radiation Therapists

Average yearly income: $86,850 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Although some companies require you to have a bachelor’s degree, many require a high school diploma and the ability to be licensed or certified within your state for on-the-job training.

Although this is a job in the medical field, it’s one where you can start without worrying about the cost of student debt upfront.

If you eventually want to get an education for this role, it can turn around and offer you ten to twenty thousand more dollars a year.

2. Computer Programmer


Average yearly income: $89,190 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Many may be shocked: but you don’t have to have a college degree to become a computer programmer.

Although a college education can help, you can also self-train to educate yourself and learn at your own pace without having to pay a ton for the education.

There are tons of free tutorials and lessons online to walk you through these steps and prepare you for this role.

This job offers constant growth and is in high demand, so this could be the best position for you if you’re a self-driven individual.

1. Director of Security

Average yearly income: $164,487 (Salary.com)

As a director of security, you’ll oversee the security department of whatever company you work for and ensure that the property, assets, and people within this organization are as safe as possible.

This is a role that you’ll have to work up to, but it requires no formal education; instead, it simply asks for a drive and interest in ensuring people are as safe as possible.

Wrapping Up

Although many act like college is the only path available: there are plenty of ways to find fulfillment in your career without going into educational debt.

Try a couple of these jobs, and who knows: you might find a dream career!

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Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.

About the Author

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Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.