Can I Get a Job Without a GED?

You still have options, even if you didn’t graduate.

Caps and gowns, diplomas—May is the season for graduations, but not everyone follows the traditional route to education. If you didn’t graduate high school, you might be wondering what your options are. Should you return to school? Study to take the GED (or high school equivalency test in your area)? Or, is it possible to start working without a GED? We’re here to answer some of your questions.


What is the GED?

The GED (General Educational Development) test was created in 1942, more than seventy years ago, as a tool for the U.S. military. Many students at the time had dropped out of school to join the military during World War II. After the war ended, the GED was created as a way to test the skills and knowledge of returning soldiers, so they could have the opportunity to apply for jobs or enroll in college. Today, the test serves a similar purpose—allowing individuals a second chance to better their future.


How has the test changed?

In more recent history, some states have chosen to adopt other high school equivalency tests. While the GED is still the most popular test, other states have recently adopted alternatives, such as the HiSet (High School Equivalency Testing) and the TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion). The GED, HiSet, and TASC have all developed more rigorous content to keep pace with the new Common Core standards that are creating more stringent benchmarks for K-12 grades. Each test varies in cost and content, but all provide individuals with credentials important to gaining employment or pursuing higher education. Check with your local adult education classes to learn what test(s) your state has approved.


How important is it?

You might be wondering, “Is a GED as good as a diploma?” It depends. While technically employers will accept the GED (or its equivalent) as proof of education when applying for a job, in reality, if a hiring manager is choosing between two candidates when all other credentials are equal, HR will typically offer a position to the person with the high school diploma. If you have the opportunity to return to school to graduate traditionally, it’s the best choice in the long run. However, if that’s not a possibility, don’t worry—passing a high school equivalency test will still improve your job outlook. On average, individuals with a high school diploma or GED, earn approximately $15,000 more annually than those who do not have any education credentials. So, can you get a job without a high school equivalency? Maybe, but it’s difficult, and only getting more challenging.


How do I get a GED?

Are you ready to start studying? Most towns offer Adult Education classes where instructors help students study and prepare for the high school equivalency test accepted in that state. There is no standard time length for these classes, as each student enters at a unique educational level and will learn at a different pace. While different tests and different states charge different fees, the testing cost varies anywhere between free and $95. Many programs offer scholarships or financial aid for test takers who are unable to pay. Penmac’s Springfield and Ava branches offer adult education classes to help candidates prepare for the High School Equivalency Test (HiSet). Classes are free, and when you are ready, Penmac will cover the $95 test cost. For more information about adult education classes offered in your area, ask a Penmac staffing specialist.


There are many benefits of getting your high school equivalency. One of the primary advantages is employment. Individuals who have completed schooling are typically viewed as more hirable by employers, receive higher pay, and have more benefits. In addition to helping with employment, you’ll feel pride in your accomplishment. Completing your education sets a positive example for kids and improves your future.