It’s no secret that new college graduates have often had trouble finding stable, well-paying jobs in recent years. But a new report from Young Invincibles suggests getting a college degree could still be worth it.
In a new report, “The Best Jobs for Millennials,” the youth advocacy group analyzed salary, growth, and access data from more than 400 occupations, and ranks the top 25 jobs for millennials – those between the ages of 18 and 34. Overall, the report found the vast majority of the top-ranked jobs require a postsecondary degree or credential, with the exception of elevator installers and repairers, which was the one occupation that did not require a postsecondary education.
Young Invincibles determined which jobs will be the best for millennials in the next several years by first filtering out the top 10 percent of jobs “projected to be the most selective in the future,” such as the CEOs of corporations. After removing those jobs from consideration, the rest were ranked based on projected occupation growth as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), median wage, and millennial share. The jobs also had to meet a minimum threshold for the total number of jobs created by 2022 to control for the possibility that an occupation that currently has a lower number of jobs can have a higher projected growth rate while adding the same number of jobs as an occupation that started out with a larger baseline.
Overall, Young Invincibles found that the best job for millennials is a physician’s assistant, an occupation that is expected to grow by 38 percent by 2022, has a median income of nearly $91,000, and has a “millennial share” of 45 percent, meaning nearly half of the positions are filled by millennials. Actuaries, statisticians (tie), biomedical engineers (tie), and computer and information research scientists completed the rest of the top five occupations.
“Our list highlights a diverse set of occupations that cross industries, value different skill sets, and require a broad range of postsecondary education and training” said Konrad Mugglestone, a policy analyst at Young Invincibles, in a statement. “For this generation, the pathway to prosperity is diverse, and that is something to be hopeful about, even in a tough economy.”
The report also points out that many of the top-ranked occupations are in similar fields. Of the 25 top-ranked occupations, 13 are in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, and another five are in health care fields. And while most of the jobs ranked in the top 25 require some sort of education beyond high school, the BLS data used in the report also takes into account on-the-job training and experience needed.
Some of the jobs that do not require a postsecondary degree or credential, for example, require an apprenticeship. Elevator installers and repairers, as well as reinforcing iron and rebar workers – two of the top three jobs for millennials with a high school diploma or GED – are apprentice-based occupations. Elevator installers and repairers, though, was an occupation ranked eighth overall, regardless of education, and has a higher median income ($76,650) than 15 other occupations in the top 25. And while “reinforcing iron and rebar workers” is not an occupation listed in the top 25 overall, it has a median wage of $45,910 and a 78 percent “millennial share” – higher than all of the top 25 ranked occupations.
While the authors of the report say it’s a good starting point for decision-making, it doesn’t take into account other factors that are considered valuable in a job, such as work-life balance, collaboration and creativity, technology, and contributing to social change.
The authors also point out that having more data about the connection between postsecondary programs and workforce outcomes would help give young adults the information they need as they enter college or the workforce.
“This report is a good start at helping young adults weigh their future career options, but as a nation we still have significant work to do to map the education and training pathways that lead to these jobs ” said Tom Allison, deputy policy and research director at Young Invincibles, in a statement. “As students are preparing to make crucial decisions – where to go to school and what to study – we should provide them with the information to make the choice that’s right for them.”
For other studies that show individuals with some form of higher education reap significant fiscal benefits, visit NASFAA’s The Value of Higher Education: Research and Resources page.
Publication Date: 8/28/2015