7 Jobs for Highschool Dropouts That Pay Really Well

Highschool can be challenge for some kids, oftentimes more so due to their circumstances in life than anything else. Some people just aren’t great at school, and for some people it’s just a miserable experience. We would always encourage every student to do their best to make it through the high school years and to graduate because it opens up a lot more doors, but if you didn’t graduate – it is what it is – so it’s time to look at the next steps.

Now, you can always go back and finish off your high school diploma, or find a program to get a G.E.D, but sometimes you just need to put food on the table and pay your rent as a priority, so let’s look at some high paying jobs for highschool dropouts.

Now, some of these jobs may require some additional training, but you can typically do that training without a high school diploma. These aren’t all jobs that you can walk into off the street, BUT with some companies, they’ll be willing to help you climb the ladder and training you. For example, in certain warehouse jobs, or various types of shops, you can start with answering the phone and doing inventory and customer service and eventually they may need a new mechanic or a manager, and so on. But we’re aiming to stick to high-paying jobs with minimal requirements to get started. Also, bear in mind that even if you hated high school, if you do a trade school or specific courses for certain jobs that interest you, you’ll have a much easier time with this since it’s practical and focused, rather than learning a bunch of random things in high school that feel like they’ll never be relevant to your life or career.

7. Commission Sales Jobs for Teens

Commission sales can really take a toll on you, it can be so discouraging to be rejected over and over all day. If you can handle that, and you’re charismatic and seem trustworthy, you can probably find a job in sales with minimal searching. Some sales jobs will pay you a flat salary along with a % commission. Anything with a commission that isn’t capped, has the potential to reward someone who is willing to bust their butt and to grind. If you’re a persuasive person, and you enjoy talking to people, and you can handle being told “no”, building relationships, etc – you probably have what it takes to make it in sales.

Be careful, though. When you start looking for sales jobs, there are a lot of “snake oil salespeople” that you may encounter, trying to offer you jobs. You’ll also probably want to avoid things like multi-level marketing, because they’ll often require you to pay money upfront in order to start selling for them, and it becomes more about recruiting other people into selling the product, rather than actually selling the product itself. Look for legitimate companies, and if it sounds too good to be true, be very skeptical. If you have to pay money to get a sales job, it’s not the type of job you should be looking for. Think of it this way, if you’re trying to be the top salesperson for a product or service in your area, why would you want to be recruiting other people to be your competitors? Sure, you get a small portion of their commission, but MLM or pyramid schemes should be avoided by anyone who is looking for a legitimate, long-term career in sales.

Look into selling things like cars, real estate, vacations, insurance, and other higher-ticket items. Do your homework, learn the product, make sure it’s legitimate and something you can get behind, and then get out there and make it happen!

6. Car Detailing and Auto Repairs

Detailing vehicles can be a lucrative little business for anyone who puts in a bit of effort to learn how to do it properly, gets a little practice, and isn’t afraid to promote themselves and their car detailing business. You can start up your own car detailing biz with minimal investment compared to other businesses, and if you hustle for clients, you can turn a profit so quickly. As you grow, you can open a shop, hire employees, and grow an actual empire in your community. Good places to find some initial clients could be at car shows, cruise nights, your local and online classified ads, offering a discount to friends and family, etc.

If you love cars and you’re handy at fixing things, then working as an auto mechanic is another good option. You can become a mechanic without graduation high school, you’ll just need to study for a certification exam and then the lack of your high school diploma won’t hold you back from working as an auto mechanic. Look into the ASE Certification exams and decide which one is right for your situation, you can learn more here.

This can be a pretty decent paying job, especially if you spend a few years just learning the ropes and working for other people and saving up money, then you can eventually open your own car repair shop and that’s where the real money is. If you decide to drop out of high school, you’re kind of deciding to take responsibility for your own future and success or failure, so you had better be willing to bust your butt, because you aren’t going to have an education, you’re going to have to find other ways to make a decent living, and often times that means working towards starting your own business. You can do that when you’re 30, 40, or even older… but it’s always something you should be thinking about working towards, since that’s where the real money is, and it’s how you’ll get yourself out of the hamster wheel even without a diploma.

5. Construction Management

You don’t need a high school diploma to work in construction, and a lot of companies will train you on the job or offer access to the training that you need. You’ll learn new skills and study for various certifications as you go, after starting at the bottom and working your way up. There’s definitely some politics involved in climbing up in a construction company, especially for family-run businesses or even if you’re working for the local gov’t or subcontractors, but in any case – there’s a lot of potential here for someone who can keep their head down and work hard for a few years. As you learn the ropes, you can aim to slide yourself into a management position so that you aren’t spending as much time doing the hard labor personally, and you’re planning, delegating, dealing with zoning laws, working on the business-side of things more.

Construction work can attract some people who are a bit rough around the edges, but don’t let that turn you away from it. A lot of that is just stereotypes, movie portrayals of construction workers, etc – but they are, of course, going to be tougher people who can handle the demanding physical labor, and probably have a very low tolerance for nonsense, but if you work hard, pay attention to what you’re told, and contribute to the team positively, you’ll have no trouble fitting in.

4. Professional Assistant

Assistant jobs can vary quite a bit, but working as a personal assistant for a professional, someone who is very successful and busy, is a very interesting career. Since you’ll aim to have one full time client, or maybe a couple of them that are less demanding, it’s really a feast or famine type of career. You could find someone who is very successful and willing to pay a great rate in order to have everything in their life handled for them so they can focus on their work or their craft, but once you move on from working for them, it’s almost like you’re starting back at square one, unless you end things on good terms with them and you’re able to get a referral.

I’m not an expert in this field by any stretch, but I’ve done a bit of research and talked to people, and it sounds like it’s definitely worth including on this list. You’ll have to be somebody who is personable, very well-organized, with good critical-thinking skills to solve problems on your toes. Your client is paying to have everything taken care of, so that they don’t have to deal with BS, so you have to be able to make the right choices and decisions to minimize their exposure to BS.

You may think of an assistant or entourage member for a celebrity, a singer, a rapper, and athlete… but there are also plenty of wealthy people who aren’t famous, but still have more money than they know what to do with. Some families will hire a nanny, as well, which is another job we’ll be looking at since it can open the door to some incredible opportunities.

3. Nanny

nanny job for teens

There’s no mandatory degree or anything that you need in order to get a job as a nanny, but there are some certifications that will help you a great deal. For example, studying early childhood education will give you the leg up, and some parents will want a nanny who has studied Montessori schooling, or other specialized and niche techniques of raising a child. Having graduated high school could help you by looking good on your resume, but first and foremost, many parents want someone they can get along with and that will get along with their kids, and to keep them safe.

If you can break into a group of well-off people as someone’s nanny, and then go and work for their friends when they have kids, etc, you’ll be able to build a long-term career as a nanny, making this one of the most fantastic careers for high school dropouts who enjoy spending time with kids, and don’t mind doing some housekeeping and cooking and other various chores. With many families, it’s more common for both parents to work, and if the family is fairly well-off and comfortable with some disposable income, they may prefer to have a nanny looking after their kid instead of sending them to a daycare, or they may need a nanny to help out on busy evenings, to help with stuff around the house, etc.

You’ll grow attached to the kids and hopefully you’ll get along great and have a good rapport with the parents. Some nanny jobs are shorter-term, others can be longer, some will have you living on-site, and staying there while the parents are home and when they’re traveling for work, whereas some nanny jobs will just have you working certain days out of the week, and staying at your own home. A live-in nanny means you’ll save a lot of money on the usual living expenses, but you’re also giving a lot to the job, it becomes your whole life when you’re working, especially when you’re living with the family. If they’re paying you very well, it can be a great way to build up savings for a few years while your costs of living are almost non-existent, and then you can use that money to start a business (which is our next recommendation, coming up next), or to put a down payment on your own home, to travel, etc. It’s also good to keep ample savings in case there’s a dry stretch in between nanny gigs, sometimes it can take a while to find the next family that’s a good fit for you!

2. Entrepreneur

As you look through the rest of these high paying jobs for high school dropouts, this one is a bit different. Being an entrepreneur means starting a business and being your own boss. It’s kind of the exact opposite of a “high paying job” but it can be a great job for dropouts because you’re basically hiring yourself. There are so many different types of businesses that you can start, so the first thing to do is to make a list of your skills, your interests, your hobbies, and to think if any of those could be translated into a viable business.

It’s highly recommended to take some business classes, either at a community college or online. Don’t worry, it’s a lot more interesting than the typical high school courses, since you’ll be vested in succeeding at your business classes, and everything you learn will bring you closer to the freedom that comes from starting your own successful business.

We already went over the idea of starting a car detailing company or an auto-repair shop.

Be weary of all the ads you’ll see like “How I earn $1,000,000 a month sitting at home clicking on my computer.” Those are very unrealistic, and the “real” business those people are running is usually just trying to sell you a course or an eBook, so stick to real stuff and watch out for the people who are trying to sell you snake oil. Having said that, opening an online store or other types of internet jobs can be totally viable – you just have to be good at separating the signal from the noise, because there’s a lot of noise out there.

1. Trades

Getting a job in the trades is a pretty cliche answer when we’re talking about high paying jobs for highschool dropouts, and that’s for good reason, because this is a great career option.

Some trade schools will require a diploma, or a GED, and so if this path interests you, it’s highly recommended to go for your GED at some point. If you’re still a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior in high school, you can likely get into a trades program for free or much lower cost, and sometimes it’ll even replace some of your classroom learning so this is the best option if it’s not too late. You’ll be far ahead of the game, you’ll be more experienced, and you’ll be able to earn a lot more money in the trades, sooner. If that’s not an option anymore, don’t sweat it, there are also apprenticeship programs for many major trades, from building, to being an electrician, a plumber, a gas-fitter, etc. You can work as an appreciate as you make strides towards getting your full certification, and then it really won’t matter that you had a tough time in high school, you’re on your way to a new, very lucrative career in the trades.

Not to keep harping on the same point but once you’ve gotten experience in the trades, you’re in a perfect position to start your own business, and that’s where you can start earning incredible amounts of money each day. You can earn thousands of dollars a day if you have a small team working with you on a handful of projects, and if you’re able to keep relatively well-organized, manage a quality team of contractors, deal with customer and client relations, then the sky is the limit.

Are There Other Jobs and Careers for Highschool Dropouts?

careers for highschool dropouts

Yes, there are plenty of other jobs that you can get as a highschool drop out. Most restaurant work will take you into entry level jobs where you can build experience, most retail jobs don’t require highschool, many sales jobs, hospitality, warehouse jobs, etc… There are a lot of options, but we wanted to focus on the ones with some of the best upside.

To truly get the most upside in the long run, always think about starting a business for yourself. It’s easier than you may think! You don’t have to do it right away, just make sure you’re learning, reading some business books, and taking steps as you work on your craft and and hone your skills. That’s my advice, anyways, you may enjoy working for other people, collecting a nice salary, and then kicking your feet up at the end of the day without the added stress or responsibilities of running a business.

Whatever route you choose, I just need you to know that there are plenty of good jobs for highschool dropouts, so if this is where you find yourself in life – you’ve still got options. Your life isn’t over. Whether you left highschool because you hate it, you’re just not great in a classroom, or there were other things going on – if this is where you’re at in life right now, don’t be hard on yourself. You’ve got this. You still have plenty of time to make something of yourself, and many people who do graduate highschool and college or university still end up choosing a different career path at some point.

Still, ideally, you’ll have an easier go at things if you’re able to get that diploma – but if not – consider some of the careers for highschool dropouts that we’ve featured on this page.

Mat Woods

Author Information

Mat Woods is the lead writer at TeenWire.org. He works tirelessly alongside the rest of the team to create useful, well-researched, trustworthy articles to help parents and their teens.