College enrollment has been on the decline in recent years, due to rising tuition costs and a lack of well-paying prospects. A bachelor’s degree was once thought to greatly increase an individual’s earnings potential, but there are many high-paying jobs that value experience, training, and skill over a degree.
Jobs You Can Get With a High School Diploma
The median income of a typical American adult with a bachelor’s degree is $52,782, while the median income of those with a high school diploma is around $31,600 per year. However, some jobs that do not require a college education, pay well above the median. Here are 6:
- HVAC Technician
- Railroad Operator
- USPS Processor
- Distribution Manager
- Property Manager
- Police Officer
1) HVAC Technician
HVAC (Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration) technicians repair, maintain, and install heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems. They are responsible for heating, cooling, and air quality in residential homes and businesses. This job requires HVAC training, experience, and certifications for handling certain hazardous materials.
Pro Tip: There is currently a shortage of skilled HVAC technicians, so demand for this trade is at an all-time high.
2) Railroad Operator
Railroad Operators operate railroad track switches. They couple or uncouple rolling stock to make up or break up trains. Signal engineers by hand or flagging. May inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and hand brakes. In addition to that, they receive oral or written instructions from yardmasters or yard conductors indicating track assignments and cars to be switched.
3) USPS Processor
A United States Postal Service Processor is responsible for sorting and preparing mail for distribution. They bundle, label, and route mail to designated areas depending on destinations and according to established procedures and deadlines.They assist in loading mail carrier vehicles, unloading vehicles at the end of each shift and properly filing away mail that could not be delivered.
4) Distribution Manager
A distribution manager organizes the storage and distribution of goods. They ensure that the right products are delivered to the right location on time and at a an agreed upon price. They may also be involved in transportation, stock control, warehousing and monitoring the flow of goods. Understanding the whole supply chain is important so that they can coordinate it effectively and liaise with suppliers of raw materials, manufacturers, retailers and consumers.
5) Property Manager
A property manager is hired by a landlord or property investor to manage the day-to-day operations of a multifamily or commercial rental property. Exact responsibilities will vary based on the type of property they are managing, the amount they are getting paid and the terms of the management contract. Generally they are responsible for all tenant requests, rent, evictions, rental contracts and maintenance requests.
6) Police Officer
A career in law enforcement can be exciting, rewarding, and even fun. However, you can’t walk into your local police station, hand in a job application, and begin patrolling the streets within days or even weeks. You’ll need to attend the police academy and receive field training. The process of going from new recruit to full-fledged police officer can take 6 to 12 months—or longer.
No Degree? No Problem
Some of these jobs are in higher-ranking positions, accessible only to those who worked their way up from low-level positions. Others don’t require a degree but do require specialized training, such as law enforcement or HVAC technician. Many of these jobs also require specific credentials or licenses, but none require more than a highschool diploma.
Contact Us to learn more about Houston HVAC training classes that can lead to a career as an HVAC technician.
College isn’t for everyone. For some students, vocational schools provide the freedom to work with their hands. For others, an associates program at a community college can offer a competitive edge at work. Or perhaps a four-year degree is the only way for you to achieve your goals.
College Isn’t For Everyone
Education is a wonderful thing, but encouraging students to pursue a degree for the sake of a degree is pointless. The recent popularity of 4-year degrees has made those who don’t feel inclined to pursue them feel inferior and unsure. The goal should be to put individuals in places where they will thrive, not to force students to conform.
1) It’s Expensive
The average public college education will run you about $40,000, or much more if you’re not a resident in the school’s state. The average vocational program will cost about $3500 annually, with certificate programs often less than that. Two-year degrees, vocational certificates, and trade programs can be a great way to set yourself up for financial security upon completion.
2) The Value of a Degree Varies
The value of a college degree varies dramatically, depending on factors such as field of study, type of college, graduation rate and future occupation. The higher paying the job, the more demanding the degree and often the longer it takes. The average student seeking out traditional 4-year degree might be surprised by how little it’s worth in the real world.
3) Vocational Jobs Need You
There are many US jobs that require education in a trade, such as an HVAC technician or electrician. These are well-paying jobs with good benefits that are increasingly lacking qualified applicants. With the rise in popularity of 4-year colleges, the pool of candidates has shrunk, leaving these industries desperate for experienced employees.
4) The Weight of Debt
U.S. colleges have fairly high dropout rates. Students who would rather be doing something else are pressured to attend four-year colleges. When they realize that perhaps this is not the path for them, they’ve often already paid thousands in tuition for an education that will not help them. Even if they find their calling elsewhere, they enter into it under a heavy weight of debt.
A Personal Decision
Ultimately, the decision to pursue a college education or alternative training should be made by individual students, based on their unique interests, strengths, and personal values, not only income and career prospects. Students should have realistic expectations about what they’re likely to get out of pursuing higher education, and the alternative options available to them.
Contact Us to learn more about finding the right vocational training program for your future!