20 high-paying jobs you can get with just a high school diploma

ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty ImagesPostmasters and mail superintendents make an average of $US75,970 a year.
  • According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, there are a ton of high-paying jobs that only require a high school diploma.
  • Some of those careers include nuclear-power-reactor operators, commercial pilots, and detectives.
  • Here are the highest-paying jobs you can get with just a high school diploma.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Many industries that only require a high school diploma provide training for new hires on the job. That means there’s no need to go to trade school, and no certificate or diploma is required.

The Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics program provides an annual guide to median pay and number of people employed in about 800 detailed occupations. Using that data, we compiled this list of jobs that only require a high school graduation, ranked by median salary as of May 2018 (the most recently available data).

Here are the highest-paying jobs you can get with nothing but a high school diploma.


Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers make an average of $US67,950 a year

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

What they do, according to O*NET: They plan, direct, or coordinate the management or operation of farms, ranches, greenhouses, aquacultural operations, nurseries, timber tracts, or other agricultural establishments. They may hire, train, and supervise farm workers or contract for services to carry out the day-to-day activities of the managed operation. They may also engage in or supervise planting, cultivating, harvesting, and financial and marketing activities.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 4,770


Subway and streetcar operators make an average of $US68,170 a year

What they do, according to O*NET: They operate subway or elevated suburban trains with no separate locomotive, or electric-powered streetcar, to transport passengers.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 8,850


Signal and track switch repairers make an average of $US70,490 a year

What they do, according to O*NET: They install, inspect, test, maintain, or repair electric gate crossings, signals, signal equipment, track switches, section lines, or inter-communications systems within a railroad system.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 38,930


Petroleum-pump-system operators, refinery operators, and gaugers make an average of $US70,860 a year

What they do, according to O*NET: They operate or control petroleum refining or processing units. They may specialize in controlling manifold and pumping systems, gauging or testing oil in storage tanks, or regulating the flow of oil into pipelines.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 38,930


Electrical-power-line installers and repairers make an average of $US70,910 a year

Sawat Banyenngam/Shutterstock

What they do, according to O*NET: They install or repair cables or wires used in electrical power or distribution systems. They may also erect poles and light or heavy-duty transmission towers.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 114,800


Gas-plant operators make an average of $US71,070 a year

What they do, according to O*NET: They distribute or process gas for utility companies and others by controlling compressors to maintain specified pressures on main pipelines.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 14,620


First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers make an average of $US73,390 a year

fizkes/Shutterstock

What they do, according to O*NET: They directly supervise and coordinate activities of sales workers other than retail sales workers. They may also perform duties such as budgeting, accounting, and personnel work, in addition to supervisory duties.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 247,570


Transportation inspectors make an average of $US73,780 a year

Cineberg/Shutterstock

What they do, according to O*NET: They inspect equipment or goods in connection with the safe transport of cargo or people. This job category includes rail transportation inspectors, such as freight inspectors, rail inspectors, and other inspectors of transportation vehicles.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 29,990


Transit and railroad police make an average of $US74,030 a year

Roman Tiraspolsky/Shutterstock

What they do, according to O*NET: They protect and police railroad and transit property, employees, or passengers.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 4,470


Gaming managers make an average of $US74,700 a year

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

What they do, according to O*NET: They plan, direct, or coordinate gaming operations in a casino. They may also formulate house rules.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 4,300


Postmasters and mail superintendents make an average of $US75,970 a year

ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images

What they do, according to O*NET: They plan, direct, or coordinate operational, administrative, management, and supportive services of a US post office; or coordinate activities of workers engaged in postal and related work in assigned post office.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 13,770


Media and communication-equipment workers (all other) make an average of $US79,580 a year

Anton Gvozdikov/Shutterstock

What they do, according to O*NET: Set up, operate, and monitor audio, video, and digital equipment for concerts, sports events, meetings and conventions, presentations, and news conferences.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 18,790


Power-plant operators make an average of $US79,610 a year

What they do, according to O*NET: They control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 33,920


Elevator installers and repairers make an average of $US79,780 a year

Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock

What they do, according to O*NET: They assemble, install, repair, or maintain electric or hydraulic freight or passenger elevators, escalators, or dumbwaiters.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 26,830


Detectives and criminal investigators make an average of $US81,920 a year

BrandonKleinVideo/Shutterstock

What they do, according to O*NET: They conduct investigations related to suspected violations of federal, state, or local laws to prevent or solve crimes.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 103,450


Commercial pilots make an average of $US82,240 a year

aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty ImagesPilots in the cockpit of a BAE 146.

What they do, according to O*NET: They pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-winged aircraft on nonscheduled air carrier routes, or helicopters. The job does require a Commercial Pilot certificate, however. This job category includes charter pilots with similar certification, and air ambulance and air tour pilots.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 37,870


Power distributors and dispatchers make an average of $US86,410 a year

Audrius J/Shutterstock

What they do, according to O*NET: They coordinate, regulate, or distribute electricity or steam. They also respond to emergencies, such as transformer or transmission line failures, and route current around affected areas.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 11,620


First-line supervisors of police and detectives make an average of $US89,030 a year

Graham Taylor/Shutterstock

What they do, according to O*NET: They directly supervise and coordinate activities of members of police force.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 116,660


Nuclear power reactor operators make an average of $US94,350 a year

Dmitry Lobanov

What they do, according to O*NET: They operate or control nuclear reactors. They move control rods, start and stop equipment, monitor and adjust controls, and record data in logs. They implement emergency procedures when needed. They may also respond to abnormalities, determine cause, and recommend corrective action.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 6,280


Transportation, storage, and distribution managers make an average of $US94,730 a year

wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

What they do, according to O*NET: They plan, direct, or coordinate transportation, storage, or distribution activities in accordance with organizational policies and applicable government laws or regulations.

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2018: 124,810

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