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.
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- Biological and Biomedical Sciences
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- Computer Sciences
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- Liberal Arts and Humanities
- Mechanic and Repair Technologies
- Medical and Health Professions
- Physical Sciences
- Transportation and Distribution
- Visual and Performing Arts
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 PayScale.com and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), include:
- Customer service representative
- Retail sales associate
- Certified nursing assistant
- Office manager
- Administrative assistant
- 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 PayScale.com, the median hourly rate for customer service representatives in March 2017 was $14.74. Employment opportunities for customer service representatives were expected to grow by 10% from 2014 to 2024, 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 March 2017 was $10.08 for retail sales associates, as reported by PayScale.com. Job opportunities were predicted to grow by 7% between 2014 and 2024, 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 March 2017, $11.68 was the median hourly rate that PayScale.com noted. The BLS anticipated that employment of nursing assistants from 2014 to 2024 would grow 18%, with the reasoning that an increasingly elderly population would increase the demand for more CNAs.
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 March 2017 PayScale.com recorded $16.56 as the median hourly salary for office managers. The BLS expected an 8% employment increase for administrative services managers, a group that includes office managers, in the 2014-2024 decade.
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 March 2017, as listed by PayScale.com, was $15.05. Job opportunities for all secretaries and administrative assistants were predicted to grow by 3% between 2014 and 2024, 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. PayScale.com reported that cashiers earned a median hourly wage of $9.04 in March 2017. The predicted employment outlook for cashiers by the BLS was slower than most occupations, with only a 2% increase between 2014 and 2024. 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 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 March 2017 was $18.55, noted PayScale.com. According to the BLS, truck drivers could expect a 5% increase in job opportunities from 2014 to 2024. More than 98,000 new jobs were expected to be created during this decade.
Bank tellers process customer transactions at banks. Beyond cashing checks, these transactions may include deposits, withdrawals and loan payments. For March 2017, PayScale.com reported a median hourly wage of $11.54 for bank tellers. The BLS predicted job opportunities to decrease 8% over the 2014-2024 decade. A total of 40,000 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 10% between 2014 and 2024.
Salaries of food service workers depend on the job titles and duties. In May 2016, the BLS reported the following median earnings per hour:
- Dishwashers - $10.00
- Waiters and Waitresses - $9.61
- Hosts and Hostesses - $9.60
- Bartenders - $10.00
- Short-Order Cooks - $10.52
- Restaurant Cooks - $11.61
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.