Even with recent student loan forgiveness offered by the federal government, more than half of college students leave school owing money. In addition, the cost of college continues to increase, making it more challenging to obtain a degree. And with rising inflation, many households can't wait four years (or more) to start earning more money.
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Fortunately, many occupations don't require more than a high school education, or prior experience. Although most need some training, if you can get your foot in the door, you can begin earning while you learn.
These 10 entry-level jobs are high paying but don't require a college degree or any experience to get started in the field.
Commercial Truck Driver
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in 2021 was $48,310 per year, with the highest 10% earning more than $72,000.
Although you don't need experience, you will require a commercial driver's license (CDL), and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration now requires Entry Level Driver Training. However, many trucking companies offer paid CDL training.
In 2021, the median pay for flight attendants, who work to keep passengers safe and comfortable, was $61,640 annually. The highest 10% earned more than $81,000.
Flight attendants are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and receive training from their employers after being hired. Qualities like attentiveness, good communication, customer service and decision-making skills, as well as physical stamina, are desirable for this career.
According to Zip Recruiter, the national average annual earnings for virtual assistants (VAs) is $59,888, with top earners taking home
Virtual assistants work remotely, providing administrative and technical support to business owners. For instance, they may receive or place phone calls, manage email accounts, documents and spreadsheets, provide customer support and more. Some VAs work for multiple clients.
To become a VA, you can respond to job postings on traditional or remote websites, reach out to your network or apply to a virtual assistant company that hires VAs to provide outsourcing services.
Real Estate Agent
The median pay for real estate agents in 2021 was $48,770, with the highest 10% earning more than $176,000. Although a real estate license is required, the steps vary by state.
Typically, earning a license includes taking a brief course and licensing exam, activating your request and then joining a brokerage. In addition, many real estate associations offer licensing programs.
Strong interpersonal, organizational and problem-solving skills are beneficial when applying for an entry-level position as a real estate agent.
Tax preparation professionals earned a median annual wage of $46,290 in 2021, with the top 10% earning more than $85,000.
Tax preparers handle tax returns for individuals or small businesses. Although they may be busiest at the beginning of each year, many tax preparers work all year.
You don't need a specific license to become a preparer, but you will need an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number to prepare federal tax returns. Some large tax preparation companies, such as H&R Block, and nonprofit organizations like the United Way offer free or low-cost tax preparation training.
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The median annual wage for railroad workers in 2021 was $64,150, with the highest 10% earning more than $82,000. Approximately 7,500 openings for railroad workers are projected each year.
Railroad worker jobs range from driving trains and operating signals and switches in a rail yard to coordinating train activities. They often travel with trains, sometimes spending a day or more away from home, and work outdoors in all weather conditions.
Depending on the position, on-the-job training can take a few weeks or an entire year. Physical abilities, such as hand-eye coordination, adequate vision and hearing and visual strength, are essential to obtaining an entry-level position in this field. Good communication, customer service, leadership and mechanical skills are also important.
While long-term on-the-job training is usually required, no experience is necessary to become an electrical powerline installer and repairer. The median annual wage for this position was $78,310 in 2021.
Apprenticeships or other employer training programs can last up to three years. This training combines on-the-job experience with technical instruction by the employer and sometimes the union representing the workers.
Color vision is essential to this career, as lineworkers must be able to distinguish between color-coded wires and cables. Other characteristics required include physical strength and stamina, technical, mechanical and troubleshooting skills and the ability to work as part of a team.
Control and Valve Technician
Control and valve techs, who install, repair and maintain devices such as meters, regulators and safety valves, earned a median annual wage of $62,760 in 2021.
To become a control valve technician, you need good critical thinking, problem-solving and technical skills. In addition, you must be able to work as part of a team and follow safety guidelines and regulations at all times.
Elevator or Escalator Installer and Repairer
Elevator mechanics earned a median wage of $97,860 in 2021. Although zero experience is required, most careers begin with a four- to five-year apprenticeship program sponsored by an employer or union.
The paid apprenticeship program includes classroom learning and on-site training. Upon completion, a fully-trained elevator and escalator installer and repairer can become a mechanic or assistant mechanic.
Essential qualities include having mechanical aptitude, troubleshooting skills and physical strength, being detail-oriented and having the ability to work at heights.
Insurance claims adjusters usually work in the field inspecting priorities like damaged vehicles or buildings on which claims have been made. The median annual pay for claims adjusters in 2021 was $64,710, and the highest 10% earned more than $101,000.
In entry-level positions, claims adjusters are trained while working on small claims. They are assigned more complex claims as they gain experience. Some states require licensure, which an employer can often help employees attain.
Being detail-oriented with good analytical and communication skills can be beneficial in landing a claims adjuster position with no experience.
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