To all graduates and all other twentysomethings who don’t know what you want to be when you grow up (myself included): follow your dreams, but find a career that pays well and has long term growth prospects. The more money you make, and the more secure a job you hold, the more time and freedom you will have to pursue your life outside of work. In today’s rapidly changing and uncertain economy, what fields are best?
Best Paying Jobs
A recent report on CNN listed average salaries for some entry-level jobs. The results aren’t that surprising, with Engineering, Computer Science, and Economics leading the pack. On average, the best paying entry-level field is Chemical Engineering, with an average starting salary of $63,749.
Another field to watch seriously is nursing, with an average starting salary of $52,129. Not only is the pay good, but opportunities abound. In my job I frequently talk to nurses and other medical professionals nationwide, and I am amazed at what they tell me about the job market for nurses. I recently heard there is a nationwide shortage of about a million nurses. Somebody else said that nurses can change jobs every six months and no personnel department would bat an eye at the applicant’s resume.
Other fields that pay well include finance ($48,795), accounting ($47,413), marketing ($43,459), and human resources ($40,250). At the lower end of the scale are communications ($35,196), journalism ($32,250), and psychology ($30,877).
Best Growth Prospects
While starting salary is certainly one aspect of a career to consider, especially if you are graduating with debt, perhaps more important is that career field’s long term prospects:
- Will your salary grow with experience?
- Will you be able to take on progressively significant positions?
- Finally, will demand for your job increase over the next 30 years?
Of the above careers, for example, graduates entering a business or finance related field can probably expect larger salary increases as they are promoted into leadership positions, while it can take much longer (or additional education) for nurses and engineers to get significant raises.
If you want to know how demand for a particular career path will stack up in the future, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides forecasts for future job demand.
Current stats list the five fastest growing occupations for candidates with a bachelors degree as network analysts, software engineers, personal financial advisers, substance abuse counselors, and financial analysts.
For candidates with associates degrees, the best fields are veterinary technicians, physical therapy assistants, dental hygienists, environmental science technicians, and cardiovascular technicians.
Have you chosen a career field because of the pay or anticipated demand in your field? Let me know!