7 Best-Paying Jobs with a High School Diploma

Damage controlman fireman Seaman Michael Minotti assembles with fellow sailors in the aft galley during a nuclear power mobile training team drill aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.
Damage controlman fireman Seaman Michael Minotti assembles with fellow sailors in the aft galley during a nuclear power mobile training team drill aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Briana Brotzman/U.S. Navy photo)

Many veterans enter the military right out of high school, so they don't have a college degree when they transition out.

While many pursue higher learning once they leave the service, if you don't feel like college is the right path for you, it's important to know which careers don't require a degree and how much they pay.

If you're transitioning out of the service or soon will be, check out our coverage of 24/7 Wallstreet's top seven jobs that don't require a high school diploma.

1. Subway and Streetcar Operators

Being a subway or streetcar operator is as stressful a job as the city or town you're working in. Densely packed cities tend to bring stressed people in crowded situations, while smaller areas tend to be more relaxed.

This is a job that doesn't require strong interpersonal skills, but they help when assisting hapless citizens navigate the local area. Strong time management skills are extremely appreciated by the public, whether or not the local transit system enforces them.

Average salary: $62,730

2. Fashion Designers

As with any creative endeavor, becoming a fashion designer is a risky proposition. The reward for succeeding, however, is enjoying a career you probably love. It would be inadvisable to attempt becoming a fashion designer without a strong passion for the industry. While advanced degrees aren't required for good fashion design, learning basic principles and techniques will certainly help.

Average salary: $62,860

3. Power Distributors and Dispatchers

If you become a power distributor and dispatcher, you can say that you literally wield the power of an entire city. You should probably stow the evil-genius laugh while you're working, though, because that would be a negative sign to your employers. Regardless, these jobs are well-paying and don't require a college degree. Understanding the basics of electricity is a requirement, and obtaining a certification prior to applying for a job will help your chances.

Average salary: $71,690

4. Detectives and Criminal Investigators

Do you like hats? Are you interested in sitting in poorly lit offices with half-smoked cigarettes, waiting for a beautiful woman to enter your office with a case for you to solve?

If so, becoming a detective or criminal investigator is not for you. These jobs are stressful, bureaucratic and draining. However, there are many lucrative benefits to sticking with the profession until retirement, and the skills you learned in the military will definitely apply to this position.

Average salary: $74,300

5. Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

If you believe that operating a nuclear power plant is anything like kicking back in a chair with a doughnut and coffee and blurting, "doh!" every time you accidentally short something out, you are wrong.

Unlike the plucky rage-a-holic we all know and love, nuclear power reactor operators have a serious job to perform, and concentration, professionalism and a very strong grasp of how the plant operates are all stringent requirements. You should strongly consider obtaining some kind of certification, if not some post-high school education, before applying for these positions.

Average salary: $74,990

6. Elevator Installers and Repairers

Have you ever stood in an elevator at the top floor and wondered how you would survive if something broke and it crashed to the bottom? If you're an elevator installer and repairer, then good news: You don't have to.

You'd be the person who ensured that no one who ever stepped into a metal box pulled by strings that you've worked on would ever have to endure the stark terror of hurtling meters to the ground.

These technicians have a very important job to perform, and it's best suited for people with a penchant for working with electronics and machinery. Furthermore, the skills you learn in this job may apply to other types of repair and maintenance careers, so you'll be giving yourself employment flexibility.

Average salary: $76,650

7. Airline Pilots, Co-Pilots and Flight Engineers

The airline industry is enormous.

It doesn't just include civilian transport; there are numerous reasons why people need to pilot, co-pilot or maintain a plane. Becoming a pilot or co-pilot takes an enormous time commitment, so don't go after that job unless you're willing to spend many, many hours in a cockpit.

Flight engineers may not need a college degree, but they are highly trained professionals so be prepared for either on-the-job training or time getting a certification.

Average salary: $114,200

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