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No high-paying jobs for high-school grads? Not so



(CBSMoneywatch)  When it comes to securing good wages and a solid career, earning a college degree is often seen as the best path toward attaining those goals.

But Americans with only high school degrees under their belts can also find lucrative employment and stable careers. The catch: Many of those options require some long-term training, according to a new analysis from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists.

Here's a list of the top five jobs for high school grads in two categories, along with median hourly earnings.

Top-paying jobs with short-term or no training:

1. Transportation, storage and distribution managers -- $39.27

2. First-line supervisors of nonretail sales workers -- $34.27

3. Gaming managers -- $31.99

4. Real estate brokers -- $29.48

5. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers -- $29.20
 

Top-paying jobs that require moderate or short-term training:

1. First-line supervisors of police and detectives -- $39.16

2. Elevator installers and repairers -- $36.51

3. Detectives and criminal investigators -- $36.33

4. Nuclear power reactor operators -- $36.18

5. Commercial pilots -- $35.73

 

Armed with a high school degree, job seekers can pick from 115 occupations that pay at least $20 an hour on average, or more than twice the federal minimum wage, the analysis found. However, more than two-thirds of the jobs -- such as elevator installers -- require moderate to long-term on-the-job training or apprenticeships.

"Higher education is still the best route for stable employment, but it's not the only path," Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America, told CBS MoneyWatch. "It's important for young professionals to understand where the need for skilled labor is in their market and learn the best path for entry into that field -- whether it's a vocational school, apprenticeship or community college."

Here's yet another caveat: Some of these careers have shown slow growth, or have even shed workers, from 2010 through 2014, as the U.S. economy struggles to recover from the Great Recession. Take postal service mail carriers, who earn a median $26.75 per hour. As mail usage is declining, that career's employment shrank by 10 percent, the study found.

"Not all industries and occupations have made strong recoveries since the end of the recession, especially those dependent on government funding," Rasmussen noted. Yet some of the job categories may see a pickup in hiring as the economy continues to improve, he added.

Even though high school graduates may be able to find stable, relatively high-paying jobs, the surest route to higher income is earning a college degree. Full-time workers over the age of 25 with at least a bachelor's degree earned median weekly income of $1,187, or almost twice the $666 earned by high school graduates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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