Best Degrees, Courses, Jobs & Career Paths after High School in the USA

Hi readers! In this post, we will have an in-depth analysis of – career options, paths, training programs, and courses – after completing high school education in the US.

What after High School

Have you completed high school education? Have you obtained high school diploma? If yes, this post will be of help to you. Here, you will find answer to the following question – ‘What after high school?’


What after completing high school education – this is a tricky question. Students in the US have access to different types of courses, degrees, and career options. The main aim of this post is to help and guide high school diploma holders.


Don’t you have high school diploma? Worry not, I’ve included alternative options for candidates who have not completed high school education/have dropped out from high school.


Here, readers will find the following details –

  • Courses to pursue after high school (Certificate, Degree, Vocational etc)
  • Alternatives to high school diploma
  • Job opportunities (apprenticeship, internship and more)
  • Skill development
  • And more…


Let us check out the list of academic programs, degrees, courses, and training programs after high school now. Here it is –


Courses, Degrees, and Training Programs after completing High School in the USA

After completing high school, students in the US have access to different types of academic programs. Broadly speaking, these programs can be classified into the following types – College Degrees/Programs, Certification programs, Vocational training programs and Short-term training programs.


Let us check out the prominent training programs and courses –


1 College Degrees, Courses, and Programs

A college degree can help you gain access to exciting job opportunities. Here are some popular college degrees and certification programs –


Associate Degree

Most Associate Degree programs take two years to complete. Some programs may last for a period of four years.


Bachelor’s Degree

Usually, it takes four years to complete a Bachelor’s Degree program. Some programs may last for a longer period of time.


Certificate programs

Community colleges across the US are known to offer certificate courses. Here are two popular certificate programs –

  • Less than one year certificate programs
  • One but less than two years certificate programs


Candidates who have passed high school education are eligible to pursue the above mentioned college degrees and training programs. Depending upon the degree/program, colleges may allow flexible learning options such as – distance learning, part-time schedule, and online learning.


2 Short-Term Training Programs

After obtaining high school diploma, interested candidates may access educational portals or local community institutes and pursue short-term training programs. Usually, such a program lasts for a period of less than two years.


Short-term training programs can help you acquire new set of skills and knowledge. Skills that are ‘in demand’ may lead to a good job or self-employment opportunities.


Local community training initiatives, educational portals, Government edu portals, libraries – these are great places to search for free or low-cost training programs.


3 Certification, Skill Development or Vocational Training programs

Certification is all about acquiring domain-specific skills or knowledge. For example, if you successfully complete a coding certification program, it means that you have access to programming skills and knowledge.


Professional organizations spanning different domains are known to offer certification programs. Dell, Microsoft, IBM, ICCP – these are some of the organizations that offer certifications. A certification program usually revolves around a particular domain/industry/technology/sector.


An organization usually conducts a test/examination to evaluate the candidate. After passing this test, he/she will be able to earn the certification. Training for the test may or may not be provided by the organization. Some community colleges too are known to offer certification preparation training.


High school diploma alternatives in the USA


1 HSE (High School Equivalency)

Candidates who don’t have a high school diploma may rely on HSE and enjoy the benefits of a high school diploma. HSE can help you get access to certain employment opportunities and training programs. In short, it is an alternative to a high school diploma.


Here are the three main exams used to determine HSE –

  1. GED (General Education Development) Test
  2. HiSET (High School Equivalency Test)
  3. TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion)


Availability of HSE exam may vary from one state to another.


2 ABE (Adult Basic Education)

To be precise, ABE is not an alternative to high school diploma. It is a basic education program aimed at adults and out-of-school youth. ABE is designed to improve basic skills such as – reading, mathematics, and writing skills. These skills can drastically boost one’s chances of getting employed!


Reading, mathematics, writing, high school preparation, and English as a Second Language (ESL) – these are the key subjects covered by ABE. Adults and out-of-school youth (above the age of 16) are eligible for ABE. They must not be enrolled in high school and work below the 12th grade level in one or more of these areas: reading, mathematics, and writing. Public schools, libraries, community learning institutes – these organizations are known to offer ABE programs free of cost.


Job Opportunities after high school in the USA

High school diploma may not be quite as valuable as an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree. But it holds some value though. This diploma can help you gain access to certain forms of employment. Come, let us check out two interesting job opportunities –


1 Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship stint comprises of training and job. Under this stint, the job is a full-time, paid job (unlike internships). Through an apprenticeship program, a candidate may acquire domain/industry-specific skills, knowledge, and earn money at the same time!


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An apprenticeship program may lead to a good job. The program revolves around a particular domain, technology, industry or sector. Majority of apprentices are retained by their employers (on completion of the program).


2 Internship

In simple terms, it is a short-term job that is aimed at providing the candidate with work experience. Depending upon the organization, an internship stint can be paid or unpaid. Majority of such stints are unpaid ones.


Even unpaid internship stints are useful as long as they help gain skills, exposure to work environment, and work experience.

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