Media Highlights

The best jobs for young adults

by Jennifer Jordan   •  

Right now, nearly three million new students – most of them young adults – are entering colleges across the country. For the vast majority of them, their goal is clear: getting a good job when they graduate. Studies show that workers with an associate’s degree or higher earn substantially more over their lifetimes than workers with a high school diploma or less.

But the truth is, even with post-secondary credentials, it’s not always easy to find a job that pays family-sustaining wages or a job that can lead to a meaningful career. And young adults in the United States continue to face unemployment rates that are twice the national average.

That’s why a new report from Young Invincibles, The Best Jobs for Millennials, is so valuable, and why Opportunity Nation is excited to share its findings.

Young Invincibles analyzed 400 occupations by three criteria: salaries; projected future growth; and access for young adults, and made several important findings, including:

  • Best occupation for young adults (ages 18 to 34) is physician’s assistants, with actuaries coming in second and a tie for third place between statisticians and biomedical engineers
  • 13 of top 25 jobs are in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and 5 others are in the medical field
  • There is a troubling gender gap for the jobs with the best prospects for young adults. About 15 of the top 25 jobs employ more men than women.

The report offers lots of helpful information, such as an analysis of the best jobs for young adults at all rungs of the educational ladder – high school, associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree – as well as average salaries and projected growth in occupations by 2022.

High School Diploma: Did you know that elevator installers and repairers earn a median income of more than $75,000, and the profession is expected to grow by 25 percent in the next seven years?

Associate’s Degree: The average dental hygienist earns about $70,000, and demand for the occupation is projected to increase by 33 percent. Registered nurses earn more than $65,000, on average, and demand is expected to grow 19 percent.

Bachelor’s Degree: Actuaries earn more than $90,000 a year while biomedical engineers earn about $87,000 a year on average and petroleum engineers earn $130,000 a year. All three professions are projected to grow by more than 25 percent by 2022.

We hope you read and share this valuable report with your networks. Make sure new college students are empowered by this information as they make a big investment in their future by earning a postsecondary degree or credential.

Jennifer Jordan

Jennifer D. Jordan is Opportunity Nation’s Senior Writer. She shares the campaign’s mission and accomplishments and those of its coalition with diverse audiences, seeking to heighten awareness about expanding economic mobility to more Americans. Read Jennifer's bio.

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