Top 10 Careers for a High School Grad

Mar 06, 2020

High school graduates may want to find out about the job duties, median salaries and employment outlooks for the ten most popular careers for individuals who have a high school diploma.

Popular Jobs for Graduates with a High School Diploma

It is possible for those with only a high school diploma to find work in a variety of industries, but most are limited to lower-level positions with not much room for career growth. Depending on the field a graduate decides to enter, he or she may be required to do strenuous activity for extended periods of time. Most of these jobs pay hourly wages instead of a fixed annual salary. Some of the most popular jobs for high school graduates, according to and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), include:

  • Customer service representative
  • Retail sales associate
  • Certified nursing assistant
  • Office manager
  • Administrative assistant
  • Cashier
  • Truck driver
  • Bank teller
  • Food service worker
  • Enlisted military personnel

Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives work for companies in call centers responding to and resolving customer inquiries and complaints. Some employers may require customer service representatives to sell products and services. According to, the median hourly rate for customer service representatives in February 2020 was $15.44. Employment opportunities for customer service representatives were expected to decline by 2% from 2018 to 2028, reported the BLS. Most new opportunities were expected to result from an increased use of online services.

Retail Sales Associates

Retail sales associates sell items, such as cars, clothing and electronics, in addition to helping store patrons find what they're looking for, describing product features, demonstrating product uses and conducting payment transactions. The median hourly rate in February 2020 was $10.86 for retail sales associates, as reported by Job opportunities were predicted to decline by 2% between 2018 and 2028, according to the BLS. Due to a projected increase in the human population, retail sales were also expected to rise.

Certified Nursing Assistants

The duties of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) involve helping patients with such tasks as eating, bathing, dressing, walking and getting in and out of bed. Professionals may also clean patients' rooms, take a patient's temperature and check blood pressures. In addition to clinical training, state certification requirements must be met. For CNAs in February 2020, $12.48 was the median hourly rate that noted. The BLS anticipated that employment of nursing assistants from 2018 to 2028 would grow 9%, with the reasoning that an increasingly elderly population would increase the demand for more CNAs.

Office Managers

Office managers are responsible for making sure day-to-day office operations run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Specific job tasks may include distributing work assignments and overseeing employees. In February 2020 recorded $17.60 as the median hourly salary for office managers. The BLS expected an 7% employment increase for administrative services managers, a group that includes office managers, in the 2018-2028 decade.

Administrative Assistants

Like office managers, administrative assistants ensure the smooth, efficient operations of organizations. Job duties may include planning and scheduling meetings, organizing paperwork, answering phones and managing projects. Some administrative assistants work from home, and they're known as virtual assistants. The median hourly wage for these workers in February 2020, as listed by, was $15.65. Job opportunities for all secretaries and administrative assistants were predicted to decline by 7% between 2018 and 2028, reported the BLS. New jobs were expected to be found in various industries, such as education, healthcare and construction, as well as professional, scientific, social and technical services.


Cashiers record and receive customer payments from the sale of goods and services. Forms of payment may include cash, checks and debit, credit and gift cards. reported that cashiers earned a median hourly wage of $9.78 in February 2020. The predicted employment outlook for cashiers by the BLS was slower than most occupations, with only a 4% decline between 2018 and 2028. While retail sales were expected to rise, the need for cashiers was anticipated to decrease due to the popularity of online shopping and in-store technological advancements, such as self-checkout counters.

Truck Drivers

Truck drivers transport goods from one place to another, but some may also be required to take on sales responsibilities. Such duties may include making recommendations to store managers or finding new customers to deliver goods to. The median hourly rate for truck drivers in February 2020 was $18.14, noted According to the BLS, truck drivers could expect a 5% increase in job opportunities from 2018 to 2028. More than 99,700 new jobs were expected to be created during this decade.

Bank Tellers

Bank tellers process customer transactions at banks. Beyond cashing checks, these transactions may include deposits, withdrawals and loan payments. For February 2020, reported a median hourly wage of $12.28 for bank tellers. The BLS predicted job opportunities to decrease 12% over the 2018-2028 decade. A total of 57,800 jobs are expected to be eliminated.

Food Service Workers

Such titles as restaurant and short-order cook, host and hostess, server, bartender and dishwasher are among the titles for food service workers. Employers include full-service and fast food restaurants, in addition to other food establishments. Most food service jobs have very little educational requirements and attract a large number of young workers.

Employment opportunities for food and beverage service workers were predicted by the BLS to grow 8% between 2018 and 2028.

Salaries of food service workers depend on the job titles and duties. In May 2018, the BLS reported the following median earnings per hour:

  • Dishwashers - $10.93
  • Waiters and Waitresses - $10.47
  • Hosts and Hostesses - $10.65
  • Bartenders - $10.84
  • Short-Order Cooks - $11.44
  • Restaurant Cooks - $12.76

Enlisted Military Personnel

Job titles for enlisted military personnel are numerous and include patrol officer, electronics technician, information technology specialist, intelligence analyst, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer and pilot. The salaries and job outlooks for military personnel vary depending on the specific job title.

Continuing Education Opportunities

After earning a high school diploma, individuals may also choose to increase their job options and salary potential by enrolling in a postsecondary educational program. High school graduates are eligible to enroll in certificate programs, which offer specialized training at a lower cost than college degrees. If going to college is a possibility, earning an undergraduate degree programs will enhance your opportunities, with associate's degrees being more affordable than bachelor's degrees. Some of these programs are available in part-time or online formats in order to accommodate the scheduling needs of high school graduates who are already working. It is also possible to find associate's programs that will directly transfer to a bachelor's program, which will reduce the overall price of earning a 4-year degree.

After graduating from high school, individuals may want to pursue one of the most popular jobs available to them, many of which are in the service industry. They may also continue their education at the postsecondary level.

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