For some, the path of academic higher education may not be the best option. But just because you aren’t planning to stay in college (or never went in the first place), it doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a meaningful and lucrative career.

College programs can be expensive and time consuming, and for many a more direct career path—and one that incurs little to no debt—can afford just as much stability and joy as any another.

If you have a high school degree, it might seem intimidating to enter the job force. Over the past several decades, we’ve been trained to believe that the best jobs only go to applicants who have college education. But today that simply isn’t true. There is a place in the working world for everyone, including those who have a high school degree or GED.

If you’re one of the thousands of American workers who is not a college graduate, or you are a high school graduate who is looking to kick-start their career in the working world, there are plenty of growing fields to explore.

Here are just five growing fields that may peak your interest. Take a look and see if any of these are a good fit for you.

Electrical Line Installers & Repairers

If you’ve ever seen the long-stretches of power-lines running down the highway, this is the position that put it there. An electrical line installer, or lineworker, installs and repairs electrical power systems. This can include working with high-voltage electricity, identifying faulty or malfunctioning devices, monitoring voltage regulators, transformers and switches, and repairing or installing telecommunication cables and fiber optics.

This job is certainly for the daredevil, as repair work is often performed at the top of an electrical pole (those afraid of heights should look elsewhere on this list). While the work is physically demanding, the pay for a lineworker is above the national average. The expected hourly earnings is about $31.57. And yearly, the median line worker makes anywhere from $55,000 to $69,000.

Training for the job is an on-site apprenticeship, but the field is expecting to grow in the future. If you have an interest in technology and are just the tiniest bit fearless, a job as a lineworker could be an excellent fit.

Crane Operator

The big, yellow cranes that you see on construction sites might seem intimidating at first, but with the right training, you’ll be operating the crane as a professional in a short time.

This job requires a lot more than knowing how to drive. At a specialized training program, like the one at West Coast Training, in 8 weeks you will be trained on how to rig loads safely and securely, and practice smooth crane operating techniques under the watchful eye of experienced instructors.

Make sure the training you receive is a mix of hands-on, on-site learning and that your education is focused on you passing the NCCCO certification. Upon course and exam completion, you will be nationally certified to operate and ready to apply for crane operator positions across the globe.

The average hourly pay for a crane operator is great, but does vary based location. The national average hourly pay is about $24.42, with rates starting at about $14.75 and topping-out at about $35.77 an hour. And, in certain states like New York, these rates go as high as $75 per hour.

As expected, the annual salaries of crane operators is equally impressive. A starting salary for an entry-level crane operator can be as low as $34,000 and can top-out at about $97,000. The annual entry-level salaries vary greatly by geographic location.

Heavy Equipment Operator

A heavy equipment operator is key to any construction site. This is a pretty diverse position that will allow you to do many different things while on a jobsite. As a heavy equipment operator, you can be expected to operate backhoes, bulldozers, graders, loaders, scrapers, tractors, haul trucks, trenchers,and vibratory compactors.

With the right training, learning the tricks of the trade can be a snap. At schools, such as West Coast Training, you can find inclusive 8 week programs that will safely teach students site preparation, flagging, grade checking, and operator preventative maintenance to ensure you are an attractive applicant to future employers.

The salary for a heavy equipment operator is very good. The median national salary was about $62,000, but ranges anywhere from $54,000 to $74,000. If you’re looking for position that changes from day-to-day, this might be an ideal choice for you.

Industrial Machinery Mechanics

An industrial machinery mechanic maintains and repairs factory equipment, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. While an industrial machinery mechanic does not require more than a high school diploma, you will likely need at least one year of on-the-job training. Many community colleges offer formal training courses to prepare for this career.

The median annual wage of an industrial machinery mechanic is about $50,440 and the median hourly pay is about $24 per hour. Overall, this career could be the perfect fit for someone who wants to work with their hands.

Petroleum Pump System Operators, Refinery Operators & Gaugers

Petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators, and gaugers, operate and control petroleum refining and and processing units. There is also room for specialization, which can be controlling pumping systems, gauging or testing oil in tanks, or regulating the flow of oil into the pipeline.

This will continue to be a growing field and like the other occupations mentioned, requires no higher education degrees. However, you will need to go through on-the-job training.

The median hourly wage for Petroleum Pump System Operators is about $32.78 per hour and the annual salary is about $68,000. This is another good option for someone who wants to work with their hands and isn’t afraid to get a little dirty.

If you’re looking to jumpstart your career and want a personalized representative to help point you in the right direction, why not call up a few training schools for more information.


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