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El Paso (KDBC) — A college degree means earning $17,500 dollars more than those with just a high school degree, according to a Pew Research Survey. However, numbers show a decline in college enrollment since 2009.
Last year, 65.9 percent of high school graduates enrolled in college, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Despite the decline, 75 percent of those who didn't go to college were in the labor force.
Albert Medina, a recruiter with Direct Recruitment Services said, there are jobs out that high school graduates qualify for, that pay more than minimum wage.
In the oil industry, he said truck drivers, diesel mechanics and other manual labor employees can earn between $45,000 to $50,000 a year.
"The El Paso Independent School District is actually teaching diesel mechanics to some of their students so when they graduate, they already have some kind of skills, diesel mechanic skills so we can recruit them and hire them for some of our clients," Medina said.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are 115 occupations require a high school diploma and pay $20 or more an hour.
Despite the availability of careers that pay above minimum wage without higher education, some Borderland residents said a college degree is still vital.
"The chances of being placed in a better position with a higher salary with a longer term results and better results are infinitely better if you have a college degree," said Genie Martinez, a resident in west El Paso.
With the average student debt in Texas at $24,000, some say, however, this could be signs of change.
"It's not typically what you've seen in the past. So maybe that's an indication that things are shifting and that there are opportunities, more opportunities for kids that aren't able to go on an pursue a higher education," said Steve Wilson, a resident in west El Paso.
List of high paying jobs that require a high school degree (BLS).
1. Transportation, storage and distribution managers -- $39.27
2. First-line supervisors of nonretail sales workers -- $34.27
3. Gaming managers -- $31.99
4. Real estate brokers -- $29.48
5. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers -- $29.20
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