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5 high-paying jobs you can snag in Georgia with a high school diploma

Even in a state full of students racking up increased college debt, a four-year degree still gives Americans a 12 percent to 14 percent return on investment, according to Ohio State professor of educational studies Matthew Mayhew.

But are there ways to get a high-paying job without all that debt and a high school diploma?

RELATED: 7 fastest-growing, well-paying Georgia jobs that don't require a four-year degree 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' short answer is ‘sure.’ The slightly longer answer is sure if you're willing to work hard and get all the experience you need and maybe have a bit of luck.

Here are five high-paying jobs available to Georgians who have received their high school diploma or the equivalent:

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Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers

Related work experience: Five years or more

2016 median pay: $66,360

It may be a good move financially to stay down on the farm, with an agricultural manager's wages topping $65,000 at the median levels of pay. Note, though, that this is a long-term proposition before the high earnings become reality, with the farm management positions requiring five or more years of work experience in a related occupation. And the jobs will not necessarily be plentiful in the coming decade. The BLS projected 8,000 fewer positions in this career slot nationwide between 2016 and 2026, though the annual average of occupational openings in that period should be about 74,000.

And you'll probably need some family connections or a real will to work for yourself: The BLS estimated that 72 percent of farm managers were self-employed in 2016.

Transportation, storage and distribution managers

Related work experience: Five years or more

2016 median pay: $89,190

This is another position for high school graduates where eventually work experience will overcome a lack of higher education. But look carefully: The bountiful wages only happen after five years or more in a related job.

»RELATED: AJC Top workplaces in Atlanta 2018

Food service managers

Related work experience: Less than five years

2016 median pay: $50,820

You might want to stop mocking the career paths that start as a night clerk or involve asking, "Do you want fries with that?" Food service manager positions pay almost twice as much as some other positions that take a high school diploma. And becoming a food service manager in Georgia may provide you with skills and experience portable to many other areas of the country. The BLS projects a whopping 9 percent increase in food service manager positions between 2016 and 2026, which translates to roughly 28,000 more such jobs nationwide in the next decade.

Postmaster Joyce Macfoy readies to close her office promptly at 3:30p each weekday. (Ralph Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Postmasters and mail superintendents

Related work experience: Less than five years

2016 median pay: $71,670

When you see classified ads for postal worker jobs, they look like fantasies. No experience or college required? And, boom, you'll be grossing like $6,000 a month? But here's the thing: These jobs are quite rare, and they'll become even more rare by 2026, with the BLS projecting a bit over 20 percent decline in these positions between 2016 and 2026 nationwide.

Claims adjusters, examiners and investigators

Education required: High school diploma or equivalent

Work experience: None, but long-term on-the-job training is a must.

2016 median pay: $63,680

Here's a job option that requires just a high school diploma or equivalent and is in reach for those who might be willing to complete long-term, on-the-job training. And while the BLS projects a small decrease in overall positions between 2016 and 2026 (minus 1.6 percent), it still projects an annual average occupational openings rate of 24,500 nationwide. So, doable for the dedicated.

And, just for fun, one to dream about:

Gaming managers

Related work experience: Less than five years

2016 median pay: $69,180

A casino or two in Georgia can't get here quick enough. There's projected to be a mild increase in jobs nationwide between now and 2026 −maybe 100 more nationwide, which still leaves the national average occupational openings for gaming managers at one of the lowest for all career options: about 500 each year.

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