Top 33 Jobs that need Little or No Experience

Not all jobs require extensive workplace experience or years of post-secondary education (and its attendant student loan debt). Some entry-level jobs pay quite well, and lots of offer paid on-the-job training or apprenticeships too. Using data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), we surveyed hundreds of high-paying jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree to create this list of the simplest paid entry-level jobs for U.S. workers.

With exceptions, this list favors positions with manageable on-the-job training requirements and faster-than-average growth potential – in other words, employers are creating these positions faster than the general job rate of growth.

No Formal Credentials Required

These jobs require no formal certificates, degrees, or licenses. However, most require at least some on-the-job training or apprenticeship work.

1. Delivery DriverTop 33 Jobs that need Little or No

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Training Requirements: A few days’ on-the-job training
  • Median Salary (2019): $25,860
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $21,060 to $65,400
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 30,100 new positions (2% growth)

Until I began freelance writing full-time, I’d never had more fun on the clock than I did driving delivery for a local restaurant. With tips and base pay, I earned good money – upward of $20 per hour during peak periods – for a job that required no skills or experience apart from the ability to drive.

I learned later that package delivery drivers – in other words, folks working for FedEx, UPS, and small courier firms  often do even better. And recent explosive growth in app-based restaurant and grocery delivery, fueled by outfits like DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates, means earning a good living as a full-time food delivery driver is more feasible than ever.

Delivery driving is one of the most popular part-time jobs with benefits. Barriers to entry are low in this line of work: a high school diploma or equivalent and a few days of on-the-job training. And it’s a great gig to make ends meet during the holidays when courier demand skyrockets.


2. Flight Attendant1589489796 332 Top 33 Jobs that need Little or No

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Training Requirements: 3 to 6 weeks of on-the-job training; continued employment contingent upon receipt of FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency (renewed annually)
  • Median Salary (2019): $56,640
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $29,270 to $80,940
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 11,900 new positions (10% growth)

Demand for flight attendants is expected to remain strong through the mid-2020s, thanks to increasing air traffic volumes, particularly in rapidly growing Asian markets, and ever-larger planes requiring bigger crews. Airlines generally like to see applicants with at least a year or two of customer service experience, but they’re not picky about where you get this experience; if you left your high school restaurant server job on good terms, you’ll probably find a domestic airline willing to train you on the finer points of cabin service.

Training for this job isn’t particularly difficult. Expect three to six weeks of on-the-job training, toward the end of which you’ll take an FAA-mandated exam on which continued employment is contingent. This is a great job for those looking to quell their wanderlust, but the irregular hours, physical toll of long periods of standing, and high customer service expectations challenge some applicants.


3. Bartender1589489796 168 Top 33 Jobs that need Little or No

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: No degree required; bartender certificate may improve job prospects
  • Training Requirements: A few weeks of on-the-job training (highly variable); state-mandated “responsible serving” coursework as needed
  • Median Salary (2019): $23,680 or $11.39 per hour (including tips)
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $8.55 to $22.18 per hour (including tips)
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 52,200 new positions (8% growth)

According to the BLS, the United States has an army of bartenders hiding in plain sight. In 2018, their ranks numbered 644,100, and another 52,200 positions are projected for the subsequent decade. That’s slower than overall projected job growth for that period, but high turnover favors new arrivals.

Other than legally mandated “responsible serving” courses, which vary by jurisdiction, bartender training can be pretty casual. Usually, experienced barkeepers or drink managers take new hires under their wing for a few weeks until they’re ready to work on their own. In fancier establishments, less-experienced bartenders may work as bar backs, fetching bottles and washing glasses until they’re presentable enough for prime-time service.

With tips, bartenders working full-time can bring in $60,000 or more per year, with high-end and high-volume establishments offering the greatest opportunity.


4. Flooring Installers1589489797 990 Top 33 Jobs that need Little or No

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: No formal education requirements (high school diploma or equivalent preferred)
  • Training Requirements: On-the-job training ranging from a few weeks to 4-year apprenticeships
  • Median Salary (2019): $42,050
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $25,780 to $74,630
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 13,500 new positions (11% growth)

The BLS divides the surprisingly broad universe of flooring workers into multiple subcategories, including “Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters” (to which the above stats pertain) and “Carpet Installers.” No matter what your specialty, this field offers decent pay with little to no prior experience required.

Entry-level flooring installers generally train on the job under the tutelage of an experienced foreman or crew chief. Depending on the specialty, it can take months or years to learn the ropes. Formal, paid apprenticeships are common, though their two – Techfour-year duration isn’t ideal for workers unsure about staying in the industry long-term.


5. Oil & Gas Field Roustabout

Oil And Gas Piping Roustabout

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent preferred
  • Training Requirements: A few months’ on-the-job training
  • Median Salary (2019): $38,910
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $28,270 to $58,950
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): Not available

Don’t let the funny name fool you. Roustabouts perform a boring but essential oil-and gas-field function: assembling and repairing mechanical and hydraulic equipment. It’s not glamorous, and job growth is perennially at the mercy of volatile energy markets, but it’s a great business to be in when extraction companies are hiring.

If maintaining oilfield equipment doesn’t strike your fancy, don’t worry. Though the U.S. oil and gas industry is price-sensitive, the fracking revolution has dramatically increased the country’s accessible reserves, creating plenty of opportunities for equipment operators, drivers, and other hydrocarbon-adjacent workers. Many of these positions require no more than a high school diploma and a willingness to work long hours in remote locations.


6. Hazmat Removal Worker

Lead Hazmat Removal Workers Danger

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Training Requirements: A few weeks of on-the-job training, plus safety training mandated by OSHA; some states require licenses or certifications for certain substances, such as asbestos
  • Median Salary (2019): $43,900
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $29,100 to $74,650
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 4,900 new positions (11% growth)

Hazmat removal is a vast domain. The most common hazardous materials are asbestos and lead, but virtually any environmental contaminant deemed hazardous to biology counts. Some Hazmat removal jobs require no more than a high school diploma and a willingness to wear heavy protective gear, while others necessitate pre-hire training (notably, nuclear waste removal) or OSHA-mandated safety coursework (asbestos, lead, and other contaminants).

If your job involves transporting hazardous materials, you’ll need additional training and likely a special state-issued license in addition to a commercial driver’s license. And bear in mind that working with hazardous materials is, well, hazardous to your health. This job favors detail-oriented workers capable of following safety protocols to the letter.


7. Plumber

Plumber Toilet Tools Pipes Bathroom

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; certain specialties may require welding certificates and coursework on system design, tool use, and safety
  • Training Requirements: Variable on-the-job training (paid apprenticeships typically last 4 to 5 years)
  • Median Salary (2019): $55,160
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $32,690 to $97,170
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 68,200 new positions (14% growth)

Plumbers are nearly as plentiful as bartenders. According to the BLS, there were more than 500,000 of them in 2018, with another 68,200 expected to join the ranks by 2028. They’re better compensated too, with annual pay for the top 10% of plumbers nearing $100,000. More demanding subspecialties generally pay more than run-of-the-mill residential plumbing work, though many an entrepreneurial journeyman has built a thriving small business off house calls alone.

For aspiring plumbers and pipefitters, the biggest barrier to entry is the apprenticeship, which typically runs four to five years. Apprentices earn roughly 50% of a full-fledged journeyman’s pay. If you seek high pay right out of high school or technical school, that might not cut it for you.


8. Sales Representative

Sales Representative Telemarketer Laptop Office Customer Service

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Training Requirements: Variable-length on-the-job training
  • Median Salary (2019): $63,000
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $30,530 to $125,300
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 35,400 new positions (2% growth)

Sales is a diverse field with diverse training requirements. One constant, however, is a lack of education and employment prerequisites; if you have a high school diploma or GED, a personable manner, and a willingness to learn about what your employer sells, you shouldn’t have trouble landing an entry-level sales position.

That said, sales isn’t for everyone. Note the wide salary range, a function of the profession’s still-standard commission-based compensation structure. If you’re a convincing salesperson, a consistent six-figure annual haul isn’t outside the realm of possibility. If you lack that killer instinct – or, more charitably, don’t enjoy convincing people to buy things they might not need  then you’re likely to struggle.


9. Elevator Installer

Elevator Installer Repairman Helmet

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; post-secondary coursework may be helpful; many states require licenses
  • Training Requirements: 4-year apprenticeship, including 2,000-plus hours of paid on-the-job training
  • Median Salary (2019): $79,480
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $38,630 to $115,880
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 2,700 new positions (12% growth)

Elevator installers and repair personnel perform vital, if largely invisible, work and are compensated appropriately. The biggest hurdle for eager job-seekers is the four-year apprenticeship; though no formal post-secondary education is needed to snag an apprenticeship, the program does require more than 100 hours of unpaid classroom instruction in addition to at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. Still, the $80,000 median starting salary is a sweet reward.

Elevator installers and repair personnel work in tough, potentially dangerous environments. If you fail to see the appeal of spending your working hours in crawl spaces and cramped elevator shafts, consider an earthbound trade instead.


10. Administrative Assistant (Office & Administrative Support Worker)

Administrative Assistant Computer Woman Secretary

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Training Requirements: A few weeks’ on-the-job training
  • Median Salary (2019): $35,590
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $21,260 to $56,660
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 22,100 new positions (9% growth)

Even amid relentless automation of rote clerical tasks, the administrative assistant role retains its tenacious hold on the white-collar workplace. According to the BLS, there are nearly 250,000 administrative assistants in the United States today, with more than 22,000 projected to join their ranks by 2026.

The definition of “administrative assistant” is evolving and expanding too. In addition to traditional office-bound roles, the advent of fully remote, all-digital roles creates more opportunities for organized, self-motivated professionals with flexible schedules and innate hustle. Virtual assistants perform an array of administrative functions from the comfort of their own homes, some juggling dozens of clients on multiple continents. Online proofreaders digest reams of content better than any automated program can, ensuring their employers’ written communications are clear, legible, and compelling. Since you probably have no experience with proofreading, you can invest in a course like Proofread Anywhere. This will allow you to learn more about the trade and make sure it’s a good fit for you.

For most non-specialized roles, a few weeks of informal on-the-job training is all that’s required to bring new hires up to speed. Capable workers have ample opportunities for growth, as well, such as rising to office manager after a few years or obtaining a paralegal certificate to take on more specialized duties.


11. Insurance Claims Adjuster (Financial Clerk)

Insurance Claims Adjuster Financial Clerk Paperwork Calculator

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; some post-secondary coursework may be helpful
  • Training Requirements: Variable on-the-job training; larger employers may have formal training courses for new hires
  • Median Salary (2019): $38,680
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $26,220 to $59,070
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 127,900 new positions (9% growth)

Claims adjusting is one of several entry points into the insurance industry. Even if you don’t dream of owning your own insurance agency one day, this is a great first career-track job to build financial fluency and hone your customer service skills.

Note that the BLS lumps a slew of related entry-level finance positions, including claims adjusting and seemingly unrelated jobs like gaming cage operators, under the “financial clerk” umbrella. Collectively, the Bureau expects nearly 130,000 new financial clerk positions in the decade ending in 2026.


12. Security Guard

Security Guard Lobby Uniform Office

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent preferred (some positions may waive this requirement)
  • Training Requirements: A few weeks’ on-the-job training
  • Median Salary (2019): $26,960
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $23,010 to $54,480
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 71,000 new positions (6% growth)

This is one of the few jobs that pretty much anyone with a clean criminal record and decent physical fitness can get. And there’s plenty of opportunity to go around; according to the BLS, more than 1.4 million security guards currently work in the United States, and some 71,000 new positions are expected to come online by 2026.

Relatively low pay is a limiting factor for ambitious applicants, but a few years’ experience while pursuing a bachelor’s degree sets you up nicely for more glamorous law enforcement work.


13. Commercial Truck Driver

Commercial Truck Driver Road Sunset Horizon

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent required; many employers prefer commercial driver certificates (typically awarded after a 3 – Tech6-month community college or trucking school course)
  • Training Requirements: A few weeks’ on-the-job training (co-piloting with a more experienced driver)
  • Median Salary (2019): $42,480
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $27,510 to $64,000
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 108,400 new positions (6% growth)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 1.9 million “heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers” traverse America’s highways and byways today. Nearly 110,000 are set to join them by 2026, provided no major breakthroughs in vehicle automation happen before then. Over the longer term, it’s likely that the rise of autonomous vehicles will render commercial truck drivers obsolete, but there’s still plenty of time to snag this entry-level job.

Unless you’re blessed with a forgiving family, long-haul trucking is probably a better fit while you’re unattached, as interstate routes typically keep drivers on the road for days at a time. All commercial truck drivers need commercial driver’s licenses. Those cleared to transport hazardous materials typically need additional state licenses as well.


14. Landscaper (Grounds Maintenance Worker)

Landscaper Lawn Grounds Maintenance Worker

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent required; some employers prefer landscape, horticulture, or related post-secondary coursework
  • Training Requirements: A few days’ on-the-job training for unskilled positions; specialized work (such as golf course management) may require formal coursework
  • Median Salary (2019): $28,110 ($13.51 per hour)
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $9.66 to $21.55 per hour
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 146,300 new positions (11% growth)

It’s not glamorous, but it is in demand; according to the BLS, more than 1.3 million people work as grounds maintenance workers in the United States, with nearly 150,000 new positions projected by 2026. In warm climates, work is plentiful year-round; in colder locales, things slow down when the growing season ends. Many seasonal landscapers make ends meet in the winter with odd jobs, such as shoveling sidewalks, plowing driveways, or working at ice rinks.

Entry-level landscaping jobs require no credentials and very little onboarding; a week under the tutelage of a supervisor is sufficient for most gigs. Grounds maintenance workers in more specialized settings, such as formal gardens and golf courses, may require more training or credentials, which can usually be obtained, often with the employer’s assistance, while working full-time. Positions with greater responsibility may demand extensive botanical knowledge, particularly when working with native landscapes.


15. Construction Laborer

Construction Worker Helmet Location Site Crane

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: No formal education requirements for most positions; some specialized work may require a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Training Requirements: A few days’ to a few weeks’ on-the-job training, depending on job requirements
  • Median Salary (2019): $33,450
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $21,930 to $60,860
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 180,500 new positions (12% growth)

This is another unglamorous, in-demand job that’s ideal for people who enjoy working outdoors. Construction laborers are not skilled tradespeople, and entry-level workers are compensated accordingly. The work is often project-based, as well, meaning frequent job site switches are the norm.

But there’s plenty of opportunity for advancement; many laborers go on to work as apprentices in skilled trades like carpentry and plumbing, while others rise to foreman or site supervisor roles after years of hard work.


16. Cement & Concrete Mason

Cement Brick Masonry Worker Building Home

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent preferred; relevant vocational school coursework may be helpful
  • Training Requirements: Variable-length apprenticeships or on-the-job training
  • Median Salary (2019): $42,900
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $27,750 to $76,020
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 34,200 new positions (12% growth)

This semi-skilled line of construction and restoration work requires little more than a high school diploma and an eye for detail, though most employers prefer (and may pay for) masons to complete coursework in relevant specialties, such as historical masonry, sustainable masonry, tile, and grout. Specialization is key for earning potential and career advancement; in older cities like Philadelphia and Chicago, historical mason work is in high demand.

Even as union membership declines in other lines of work, masonry remains heavily unionized, particularly in historic union strongholds across the northern United States. Union membership isn’t a panacea, of course, but union jobs tend to be higher-paying and more secure than non-union positions. Bear in mind that masonry work is more physically taxing than some other construction specialties.


17. Roofer

Roofer Wood Hammer Construction Site Home

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: No formal education requirements
  • Training Requirements: A few weeks’ to a few months’ on-the-job training
  • Median Salary (2019): $38,970
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $25,590 to $64,860
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 16,200 new positions (11% growth)

Even on a list of jobs with low barriers to entry, roofing stands out as particularly easy to get into. Roofing contractors aren’t picky about new hires’ educational backgrounds; many don’t even require high school degrees. A willingness to learn on the job, a tolerance for heights, and the ability to endure extreme heat and cold are all that’s necessary for a successful roofing career. Just remember that roofing work is highly seasonal in colder climes.


18. Restaurant Server

Restaurant Server Steak Vegetables Table

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: No formal education requirements
  • Training Requirements: A few days’ to a few weeks’ on-the-job training (highly variable); state-mandated “responsible serving” coursework as needed
  • Median Salary (2019): $20,820 ($10.01 per hour, including tips)
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $8.27 to $19.33 per hour (including tips)
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 182,500 new positions (7% growth)

Restaurant service is the most plentiful gig on this list. According to the BLS, more than 2.6 million people work as servers in the United States, with 182,500 set to join them by 2026. Though servers are increasingly under threat from automation  witness the table iPads proliferating across the restaurant industry  full-service restaurants will still need human wait staff for the foreseeable future.

Server compensation – of which tips comprise a substantial share  increases as you ascend the menu-price ladder, along with employer expectations around service quality and menu knowledge. Fancy restaurants often require servers to complete menu courses and exams before turning them loose on customers. Servers whose job duties include dispensing alcoholic beverages may be required to complete “responsible serving” courses, depending on local law and employer policy.


19. Ride-Hailing Driver (Taxi Driver & Chauffeur)

Taxi Driver Passenger Car Directions Instruction

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: No formal education requirements
  • Training Requirements: None, though familiarity with local geography is helpful
  • Median Salary (2019): $24,880
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $18,750 to $39,380
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 15,100 new positions (5% growth)

If your car is in good condition, your driving record is clean, and you don’t mind making small talk with strangers, you can start driving for a ride-hailing app like Uber or Lyft in no time. You’ll be in good company; according to the BLS, more than 300,000 ride-hailing drivers, taxi drivers, and chauffeurs ply America’s streets, and growth is expected to remain in line with overall workforce expansion despite the looming threat of autonomous vehicles.

The key appeal of driving for a ride-hailing app is flexibility. You can drive as much or as little as you like, making this perhaps the perfect side gig for folks without specialized skills. Downsides include inconvenient peak hours, such as early weekday mornings and the wee hours on weekends, and driving-related headaches like traffic and inclement weather.


20. Pest Control Worker

Pest Control Worker In Kitchen Cabinets

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; state licenses may be required
  • Training Requirements: A few months’ on-the-job training
  • Median Salary (2019): $34,370
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $22,650 to $55,080
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 6,500 new positions (8% growth)

Are you claustrophobic? If so, then pest control probably isn’t for you. Pest control technicians work in clients’ basements, crawl spaces, closets, outbuildings, and even HVAC ducts.

If you don’t mind confined spaces, pest control is a potentially rewarding line of work that’s easy to learn on the job. Depending on your employer’s specialty  termites, rodents, lawn pests, and so on – you’ll receive appropriate on-the-job training within a few months. You can obtain any required state or local pest control licenses while you work.

Besides the whole claustrophobia thing, the biggest downside of pest control work is working with hazardous chemicals. If the thought of dispensing poison in people’s homes and businesses makes you uncomfortable, this might not be the gig for you. Also, it’s common for pest control companies to keep workers or teams on call 24/7 to address emergencies, so this isn’t the best line of work for people who prefer not to work evenings and weekends.


21. Tree Trimmer

Tree Trimmer Helmet Cutting Branches

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent required; post-secondary coursework in horticulture may be helpful
  • Training Requirements: A few weeks’ on-the-job training
  • Median Salary (2019): $35,000 to $54,999
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): Not indicated
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 5,000 to 9,999 new positions (faster than average growth)

The BLS lumps tree trimming under the “grounds maintenance worker” category. However, tree trimming deserves its own category on account of the hazard pay afforded workers who spend their days dozens of feet above the ground. Pursue a horticulture or landscape architecture degree after work, and you’ll find plenty of opportunity to move up in this field (literally and figuratively).


22. Veterinary Assistant

Veterinary Assistant Kittens Check Up

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Training Requirements: Short on-the-job training period
  • Median Salary (2019): $26,140
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $19,110 to $38,300
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 16,300 new positions (19% growth)

If you love working with animals, it’s hard to imagine a better job. Sure, the pay isn’t great, and the work environment can be gross at times, but the clientele is cute. Putting in your dues as a vet’s assistant could be just what you need to distinguish your veterinary school application too. And with healthy growth expected in the years ahead, you’re likely to find plenty of open positions.


23. Dental & Ophthalmic Lab Technician

Dental Office Chair Equipment

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Training Requirements: Lengthy on-the-job training (working as a lab assistant or helper before taking on more responsibility)
  • Median Salary (2019): $35,250
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $22,540 to $59,890
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 11,000 new positions (13% growth)

The BLS lumps “dental and ophthalmic lab technicians” in with “medical appliance technicians” to form a diverse medical niche expected to support nearly 95,000 jobs by 2026. Lengthy on-the-job training modules compensate for lax education and experience prerequisites, but the knowledge that the appliances and devices you’re creating will measurably improve patients’ quality of life may well compensate for the dreary lab environment.


Some Certification Expected

These jobs may expect or require formal certification or post-secondary coursework, but generally don’t require post-secondary degrees. Some require state or local licensure as well. Most require at least some on-the-job or pre-job training.

24. Solar Photovoltaic Installer

Solar Photovoltaic Installer Roof Clouds

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent required; many employers prefer candidates with some community college coursework
  • Training Requirements: One month to one year of on-the-job training
  • Median Salary (2019): $39,490
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $28,760 to $61,580
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 11,800 new positions (105% growth)

If you’re a fan of the energy industry, but prefer that your labor doesn’t contribute to climate change, this is the job for you. And the outlook is nothing short of fantastic; between 2016 and 2026, total solar photovoltaic installer employment is projected to double. Contrary to popular belief, solar power is viable in virtually all of the continental United States, even damp, cloudy places like Seattle and Boston.

All solar employers are willing to train new hires on the job. However, some prefer even first-time candidates to present some formal credentials, such as a solar installer or electrical safety certificate from a community college. These are generally quick (six months at most) and cheap to obtain.


25. Survey Technician

Survey Technician Outdoors Silhouette Horizon

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; some post-secondary coursework in survey technology may be helpful
  • Training Requirements: Variable-length on-the-job training under a lead surveyor
  • Median Salary (2019): $43,340
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $26,670 to $71,440
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 6,400 new positions (11% growth)

If you enjoy working outdoors, this could be the job for you. Surveyors measure and map land for clients such as municipalities, private developers, extraction companies, and environmental groups.

Beyond a solid grasp of mathematics – notably, geometry and trigonometry  and strong spatial reasoning skills, entry-level positions require little more than a willingness to learn how to use surveying equipment and mapping techniques. That said, the surveying and mapping trade grows more formalized by the year, so you may be expected to obtain state-specific licenses or certificates and meet continuing education requirements.


26. Real Estate Agent & Broker

Real Estate Agent Home Mini Model

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent required; post-secondary coursework or degrees in real estate and business may be helpful; real estate brokers must obtain state licenses
  • Training Requirements: 1 to 3 years of on-the-job training (as sales agents), plus self-study and experience
  • Median Salary (2019): $47,880
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $23,130 to $109,490
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 24,900 new positions (6% growth)

Real estate sales is one of the few remaining industries that offers true six-figure earning potential for an entry-level worker with nothing more than a high school diploma and a state broker’s license. The catch: Successful real estate agents and brokers need to be extremely good at selling. If the thought of “always being on” gives you chills, this isn’t the career for you.

Real estate career paths vary, but the general progression goes something like this:

  • Complete some post-secondary coursework in real estate or business
  • Work for one to three years as an entry-level real estate sales agent at a brokerage
  • Sit for (and pass) your state’s real estate licensing exam
  • Get your broker’s license and work toward a partnership or start your own brokerage

You’ll need to renew your broker’s license every two to four years, depending on state policy. Real estate sales is also a potentially lucrative side gig; I knew a few landlords whose broker licenses allow them to represent themselves with confidence when buying new income properties, and who broker a handful of third-party transactions each year to keep their skills sharp and pad their incomes.


Some Post-Secondary Education Expected

In addition to, or in place of, formal certification or licensure, these jobs may expect or require one post-secondary credential, such as an associate’s (two-year) degree.

27. Wind Turbine Technician

Wind Turbine Technician Helmet Outdoors Clouds

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: Wind energy technology certificate (one-year program) or associate’s degree (two-year program)
  • Training Requirements: 12 or more months’ on-the-job training
  • Median Salary (2019): $53,880
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $37,850 to $80,170
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 5,600 new positions (96% growth)

America’s booming wind power industry needs technicians to service the wind farms sprouting across the heartland – lots of them. The BLS projects wind turbine technician employment will nearly double between 2016 and 2026, though from an admittedly low base. You’ll need to budget two to three years for pre-hire certification, which is available at many community colleges and online universities, and on-the-job training, but the payoff is worthwhile; median pay starts north of $50,000 per year.

Servicing wind turbines isn’t all fun and games. Once installed, turbines reside atop 20 – Tech40-story towers. Much of your on-the-job training will cover all the precautions necessary to work safely at that height, as well as everything that can go wrong up there.


28. Police Officer

Police Officer Leaning On Cop Car Under Bridge

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent required; most agencies require some post-secondary coursework in criminal justice or related fields
  • Training Requirements: 4 to 6 months of academy training, often followed by on-the-job training under a more experienced officer
  • Median Salary (2019): $62,960
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $35,780 to $105,230
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 53,400 new positions (7% growth)

It’s increasingly rare for law enforcement agencies to hire rookies straight out of high school, but lengthy employment records aren’t required, either. Police work is a young person’s game. It’s physically and emotionally demanding, not to mention dangerous, but the upshot is early retirement. Many officers hang up their badges, with a full pension, at age 50. That leaves plenty of time for a second career.

If you’re serious about becoming a police officer or detective, narrow down your list of potential employers and get the details on their employment requirements. Some may require two – Techfour-year criminal justice degrees, for instance.


29. Public Relations Associate

Public Relations Executive Cityscape Graphs Data

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: Bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, public relations, or a related field
  • Training Requirements: A semester-long internship may be helpful; otherwise, variable on-the-job training
  • Median Salary (2019): $59,300
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $32,840 to $112,260
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 22,900 new positions (9% growth)

Many public relations associates are refugee journalists seeking a more lucrative, stable line of work, but plenty go into the field straight out of college. Unlike most of the roles on this list, a bachelor’s degree is all but required for entry-level public relations work. Strong written and verbal communications skills are critical as well. For those working in client-facing capacities, thick skin and impeccable customer service skills come in handy.


30. Health Information Technicians

Health Technician Scanning Blood In Tube

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: Post-secondary certificate (one-year program) or associate’s degree (two-year program) strongly preferred
  • Training Requirements: Variable on-the-job training; state licensing and certification may be required
  • Median Salary (2019): $39,180
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $25,810 to $64,610
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 27,800 new positions (13% growth)

Health information technicians manage and organize paper and digital health records for hospital systems, private clinics, and health insurance companies. Most employers require at least one year of post-secondary education, and some require an associate’s degree. State licensing is generally required as well.

Ambitious health information technicians can boost their earning power by pursuing subspecialties. For instance, cancer registrars collect and manage the vast reams of data necessary to track and treat cancer patients’ disease.


31. Tax Preparer

Preparing For Taxes 1040 Form Laptop

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Training Requirements: A few weeks’ on-the-job training; some employers may offer formal coursework through internal “academies”
  • Median Salary (2019): $38,730
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $20,170 to $81,740
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 10,300 new positions (11% growth)

You don’t need an accounting degree to become an income tax preparer. All you need is an eye for detail, existing or acquired familiarity with tax prep software, and a willingness to work hard for two to three months out of the year. National tax prep behemoths like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt hire thousands of seasonal tax preparers each winter and retain the best of the best throughout the year for help with complex business returns and audit responses.

The obvious drawback of working as a tax preparer is the job’s sporadic nature. You’ll want to have another reliable source of income to tide you over during the second, third, and fourth quarter.


32. Medical Assistant

Medical Assistant With Doctor Discussing Patient Notes

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: Medical assistant certificate or diploma (one-year program) strongly preferred; medical assistant associate’s degree (two-year program) may be helpful; optional state certification may be helpful
  • Training Requirements: For non-credentialed new hires, several weeks of on-the-job training; shorter onboarding period for new hires with diplomas or degrees
  • Median Salary (2019): $32,480
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $23,830 to $45,900
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 183,900 new positions (29% growth)

For ambitious entry-level workers, the rapidly growing field of medical assisting is a fantastic toehold in the medical industry. Starting pay is decent, on-the-job training requirements are manageable, and projected demand is off the charts; the BLS expects nearly 30% growth between 2016 and 2026. Many medical assistants go on to obtain nursing degrees, which can easily double or triple their earning power.


33. Fitness Instructor

Fitness Instructor Group Bootcamp Class Stretching

  • Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent required; fitness certificate (one-year program) or associate’s degree (two-year program) preferred
  • Training Requirements: Variable on-the-job training
  • Median Salary (2019): $39,210
  • Salary Range (10th to 90th Percentile): $19,640 to $74,520
  • Growth Outlook (Change in Employment, 2018 – 2028): 30,100 new positions (10% growth)

Fitness instructors work in a variety of active settings, such as yoga studios, spin studios, and school gymnasiums. The surest path to higher earnings is personal training, or delivering one-on-one fitness instruction to private clients willing to pay $30, $40, $50 or more per hour for the privilege.

Employers prefer trainers certified through private industry organizations like the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. If you’re specializing in a particular type of practice, such as yoga or Pilates, you’ll need to complete additional training or certification before or during the onboarding process.


Final Word

Past work experience requirements have little bearing on the standards to which employers hold new hires. If you’re fortunate enough to land one of the positions on this list, don’t assume you can slouch your way to a promotion or approach your duties with anything less than the utmost seriousness. Some of these jobs, such as oil-and-gas worker and wind power technician, are downright dangerous. Those that aren’t quite as risky, such as bartender and public relations associate, are often stressful or unpredictable.

No matter which job you choose, know what’s expected from you on your first day on the job. That’s the surest way to set the tone for the remainder of your employment, whether it lasts six months or 60 years.

How much experience does your job require? Can you see yourself transitioning to any of these roles in the future?

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