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The Best Jobs for High School Dropouts

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Despite what teachers may say, high school dropouts do have career options, they just aren't always very lucrative ones.

Workers without a high school degree earn an estimated $973,000 in their lifetimes, roughly $330,000 less than they would with a high school diploma and only a fraction of the $2.3 million one earns with a bachelor's degree, according to a report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. That means high school dropouts, on average, earn $24,000 a year, or $11.40 per hour.

If you never graduated high school, there are several professions that offer the best prospects for a decent salary and some job security.

While the average salary may be low, the Georgetown study found more than two dozen professions that hire high school dropouts and pay more than $1 million in lifetime earnings, closer to what one would make with a high school diploma. To find this out, Georgetown's researchers analyzed median wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by education and occupation and used this to extrapolate what one might earn if they worked full time from 25-64.

Many of the occupations that rank at or near the top of the list are in the construction and manufacturing industries, which tend to employ more workers with less education but a marketable skill set. Unfortunately, with these industries still ailing from the housing crunch, the hiring prospects for many of these positions are mixed. So we rounded up a range of jobs from Georgetown's list with the highest salaries and strong employment prospects in the coming years.

For every one of these professions, though, workers would earn even more by having a degree.

Construction manager
Working as a construction manager or supervisor could be a dream job for someone without a high school degree, at least in terms of salary. Construction managers earn an estimated $1.5 million in their lifetime with less than a high school education -- though they could earn nearly twice that amount with a bachelor's degree -- and first-line managers of construction and extraction workers actually earn an estimated $1.7 million on average throughout their career. Best of all, according to the BLS, this occupation's employment is expected to increase by 17% between 2008-18.
Estimated lifetime earnings: $1.5 million
Percent of occupation with high school diploma or less: 34.8%

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