construction work with large metal beams
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
February 17, 2024 ·  4 min read

Company hiring high school grads for up to $47/hour – no college degree needed

A construction company based in New York is hiring high school graduates and offering full benefits  — no college degree required. After a summer apprenticeship with Harrison & Burrowes, new hires could receive a full-time position as well as earn up to $47 an hour. Owner and COO Chris DiStefano explained that they wanted to create a full-time job opportunity for graduates without college degrees. “College isn’t for everybody — and with the rising cost of tuition, we can provide a great opportunity for those folks that the path to college might not be the best path for them,” he said. 

Construction Company Offers Jobs to High School Graduates

Fox News

From Harrison & Burrowes’ main office in Albany, New York, students in their last year of high school could choose to work up to 200 hours in a summer apprenticeship. After that, the company can offer full-time positions to individuals after they graduate. “When they come on, they can come on at 18 years old and make a steady wage and have a sustainable career going forward,” DiStefano said.

Harrison & Burrowes was founded over 40 years ago. The company focuses on bridges, from construction to maintenance to repairs, at a competitive rate. However, finding qualified workers can be challenging these days. “We’re taking it very seriously and doing all the things on our end to make a sustainable future,” he said. [1]

Fewer high-school graduates attended college and higher education in 2020 than in previous years; a survey found that overall college enrollments dropped by 6.8% that year. In 2022, there has been a 3.5% decrease since then. Between COVID-19 and the high cost of college, more people opted out, especially those in low-income communities. [2] Although many job listings ask for bachelor’s degrees, there are many high-paying positions available that require only technical or on-the-job training, internships, apprenticeships, or certifications. 

Read: ‘I Have A Bachelor’s Degree And Still Work 4 Jobs To Make Ends Meet’

Job Positions That Don’t Require College Degrees 

Keep in mind, skipping college is not necessarily “the easy way out”. For many high-paying positions, there is intensive and lengthy training, some unpaid and some you have to pay for. For instance, commercial pilots can make $78,740 annually, and require a commercial pilot license and a high school diploma. Pilots train at schools that offer these specific classes or with an independent FAA-certified flight instructor.

Elevator installers and repairers make $79,480 a year, and the demand for these jobs are growing. But first comes a four-year apprenticeship program that requires a high school diploma, followed by on-going training and in some states, a license. Transportation, storage, and distribution managers can make $92,460 a year, and usually require a high school diploma and at least five years of related experience. [3]

A study from Harvard Business Review and Emsi Burning Glass, a labor market data company analyzed 51 million job postings between 2017 and 2020. They found that many employers are dropping the bachelor’s degree requirement for many middle-skill and a few higher-skill roles. The pandemic — and the following labor shortage — accelerated this trend, which is becoming a potential reset for how employers hire. Instead of asking for a bachelor’s, some job postings list the specific soft skills associated with a college education, like communication, writing, and attention to detail.

This reset could also create new ways for employers to find new hires, as well as create opportunities for workers without degrees. [4]

Read: The push to teach all students how to budget money, balance a checkbook in high school

The Future of Job Postings

This reset may reverse the degree inflation trend that came after the Great Recession when many employers added a bachelor’s requirement to job descriptions that didn’t previously include them, even though the actual job stayed the same. Now employers may refocus on hiring based on specific skills. 

For instance, Accenture launched an apprenticeship program in 2016 and has hired 1,200 people since then; 80% didn’t have a four-year degree. This year, they expanded their program to fill 20% of its entry-level roles in the U.S. from apprenticeships. “A person’s educational credentials are not the only indicators of success, so we advanced our approach to hiring to focus on skills, experiences and potential,” says Jimmy Etheredge, CEO of Accenture North America. This program began in Chicago and has expanded to over 35 cities in the country. [5] 

For a long time, companies used college degrees as a prerequisite to determine career readiness and job performance. However, the hiring landscape may be changing in the years ahead and companies may have to rethink their prerequisites to find good hires.

Keep Reading: College Dropout Invented a Surgery To Cure Himself After Being Bedridden For 11 Years


  1. “New York company hiring high school graduates for up to $47 an hour.Fox News. Brittany Kasko.
  2. “College Enrollment Statistics: 2022 Data by State, Race, Gender & Imed Bouchrika, Phd October 4, 2022.
  3. “15 jobs that pay more than $75,000 that you can get without a bachelor’s degree.CNBC. Kerri Anne Renzulli. January 26, 2019.
  4. “ThenEmerging Degree Reset.” The Burning Glass Institute. 2022.
  5. “No college degree? No problem. More companies are eliminating requirements to attract the workers they need.CNBC. Susan Caminiti. April 27, 2022.