What “High School Diploma or Equivalent” Means

On a job application, “high school diploma or equivalent” means that you either own a high school diploma or:

  • You own a GED certificate – It is a test about your aptitude in math, science, language arts, and social studies (it’s just like getting a high school diploma). Other alternatives to GED include HiSET and TASC.
  • You completed 12th grade in another country.
  • You have an equivalency from an accredited institution – Many accredited institutions (including some from the National Private School Accrediting Alliance) issue high school diploma equivalents.
  • You have an accredited home-school certificate – The U.S. Department of Education recognizes some home-school diplomas as high school diploma equivalents.

When is a high school diploma or equivalent necessary?

Do you think that a high school diploma is a must for college admission and job applications?

Well, that’s not always true!

There are many options to further your studies without a high diploma. Also, many good-paying jobs don’t require a “high school diploma or equivalent.”

  • Many traditional jobs require a high school diploma or equivalent at entry-level. However, plenty of jobs do not have such requirements.
  • Most college or university studies require a high school diploma or equivalent as part of admission procedures.

How to further your education

If you want to continue your studies without a high school diploma or equivalent, here are some of your options:

Jobs and careers without a high school diploma

Many entry-level jobs are available without a high school diploma or equivalent.

Those with exceptional voice or physical traits can go into modeling, acting, performance, voice-over or dubbing, or singing. 

Those with unique abilities, talents, or passionate interests can also find great jobs. For example:

  • Art & technology: Cosmetologist, Hair Stylist, Illustrator, Architectural Drafter, or Florist.
  • Technology: Computer Programmer, Web Developer
  • Communication: Translator, Interpreter. Photographer, Freelance Writer, Court Reporter, Online Advertising Manager, or Telemarketer.
  • Travel & Transport services: Ship Captain, Air Traffic Controller, In-flight Services Manager, Locomotive Engineer, Airline Pilot, Flight Attendant, Delivery Driver, Tour Guide, or Bus Driver.
  • Legal / Financial Services: Real Estate Broker, Paralegal Assistant, Insurance Agent, Tax Examiner or Tax Collector.

Even an average person can still earn a good salary without a high school diploma. Still, if there are many applicants, experience and attitude will have to compete against formal training. For example:

  • General / Personal Services: Office Manager, Executive Assistant, Housekeeper or Janitor, Animal Care Specialist or Dog Walker, Nanny, Counter Attendant, or Personal Shopper. 
  • Technical Services: Elevator Installation & Repair, Nuclear Power Operator, Heating & Refrigeration Mechanic, Industrial Mechanic, Construction Machine Operator, Electrical Technician, or Power Plant Dispatcher, Automotive Technician, Machinist, Construction Worker, or Property Custodian.
  • Health / Medical Services: Home Aides Supervisor, Home Health Aide, Dental Hygienist, Fitness or Gym Instructor.
  • Entertainment Services: Casino Gaming Manager, Casino Dealer, or Stuntman.
  • Food & Drink Services: Food Server, Barista, Sous Chef, Sommelier, or Restaurant Manager.


A high school diploma is a document that certifies your completion of high school education. Besides formal education, you have other options such as the GED, HiSET, and TASC, which are high school diploma equivalents.

Although entry-level jobs generally require a high school diploma or equivalent, that’s not always the case. Many schools provide training and certification without it. 

If you’re blessed with striking looks, skills, talents, and abilities, you can also get employed without it. Simultaneously, even if you’re an average person, there are still many high-paying job opportunities. 

Now you know what a “high school diploma or equivalent” means, when it’s absolutely needed, and when you can get around it.