No High School Degree? Find Out The Best Alternative For You

For many individuals, finishing high school can be a challenge. The good news is that there are many alternatives to receiving a high school diploma that will provide you with the same benefits as the traditional route.

Studies show that people who have a high school equivalent degree or other types of certifications earn on average $9,000 more than HS dropouts. More importantly, studies also show that GED graduates are more satisfied and happy with their careers. To learn more about what your options are, keep reading.

Alternative Options To A High School Degree


The General Educational Diploma, also known as the GED, is one of the most common alternatives to obtaining a high school equivalent degree. The GED consists of a series of tests that examine if a student exhibits the same knowledge as a typical high school graduate. In other words, if the student passes the test, he or she will earn a high school equivalent diploma, opening doors to far more opportunities.

The GED consists of four different tests, one for each of the following subjects: math, social studies, science, and writing. The examinee can choose to take the tests on the same day or divide them into two or more days.


  • Faster than going through the traditional 4 years of High School
  • Can be more affordable than going to High School
  • Most states do not require applicants to attend preparation classes


  • The GED is not always viewed as the same way as a High School diploma
  • Can be harder to get into college with a GED
  • Test is known for being difficult

How to Apply

In most cases there are only three requirements to take a GED: be officially withdrawn from school, reside in the state you take the exam, and be over 16 years old (minimum age varies by state).

To apply, go to the GED website and create an account. Then, take some preparation classes or study for the exam. Finally, go into your state’s GED scheduling site and schedule the exam.

Adult High School

An adult high school, as the name implies, is a high school facility that is specially tailored for adults seeking to obtain their high school degrees. Many education centers offer resources such as child care centers, disability resources, and even immigration inclusion programs to make sure people of all different backgrounds feel well supported to pursue their education.

Adult high schools typically have two types of standard classes that are usually available in the evenings or test preparation courses for high school equivalency exams such as the GED.


  • Tuition free education
  • Being able to have 1:1 assistance with teachers
  • Have the opportunity to be in a classroom setting


  • Less flexibility than online school
  • Longer to complete than standard GED
  • Not available in every county

How to apply

Every state has a different application process, but the good news is that it is relatively easy to find one. You can just type into a web browser, “Adult High School Near Me," and the programs offered by your county or state will pop up. Before you enroll, make sure the school is an accredited institution so that your diploma is valid throughout the United States.

Online High School

If you have a busy schedule and do not have the time to take classes in person, you can choose to take high school classes online. Most programs offer asynchronous education, which means that you can finish the modules at your own pace instead of having scheduled classes.

Many young artists in Hollywood take this path during their youth in order to work and study at the same time.


  • Flexibility of doing lessons when it is convenient for you
  • Being able to work at your own time and speed
  • Enrollment tends to be year-round


  • Most programs are not tuition free
  • Student has to have access to a computer
  • Not having 1:1 assistance with teachers

How to Apply

The application process is relatively easy; simply do some research on the internet for a program that fits your needs and budget. Just like the in-person high school, make sure the school is an accredited institution.

Trade Schools And Certification Options

Another route you can take is to get certifications that do not require a high school degree, but provide a successful career path. You can obtain these certifications at trade schools, which are vocational institutions that train individuals for a specific job or role. There are a variety of certifications available that do not always require a high school. Which means you're likely to find something that interests you. Below are just a few different industries:

Cosmetology Schools

Some cosmetology schools do not require a high school diploma or equivalent for enrollment. These might only ask institutions for an “in-house” test that will simply examine if the student has some basic academic skills to attend the course.


  • Entrepreneurship opportunities
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Small class sizes


  • Can require up to 1500 hours to obtain your license
  • Can be very fast paced
  • Competitive business

Massage Therapy

In some states, you can become a massage therapist without having a high school diploma. The course usually takes 6 months to complete, and at the end of the program, the student must take a licensing exam in order to start practicing.


  • You can earn your hourly rate + tips
  • It is a growing market, which means there will be more and more opportunities
  • Flexible work schedule


  • Inconsistent income
  • Most programs require the GED
  • Can be physically demanding

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

A CNA is responsible for some of the basic needs of patient care. Some of the responsibilities of a certified nursing assistant include helping patients eat, bathe, and exercise, as well as updating nurses on their patients' conditions. It is important to know that while some states do not ask for a high school diploma, most states do require a degree or its equivalent (GED).


  • Growing job opportunities
  • Opportunity for specialization
  • Job Stability


  • The less certifications, the lower the pay is
  • Physically and emotionally demanding
  • Most educational programs are not free


Most plumbing courses do not require a high school diploma for enrollment. After completing the course, the student must pass a written examination to become a licensed plumber.

One significant advantage of seeking a career in plumbing is the relatively high pay which can range from 60k-80k in the United States.


  • Great flexibility
  • Relatively high pay
  • Inexpensive education


  • Slight risk of getting injured
  • Can be a very stressful job
  • Having to deal with impatient clients


When completing High School doesn't seem like an option, know that there are alternatives that can help you succeed. Do some research, evaluate your lifestyle, routine, and life goals to see which option best suits your needs. What are you waiting for? Your future awaits.

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