The best jobs of 2013 — ranked by pay, work environment, stress and job opportunities — start with actuary, biomedical engineer, software engineer and audiologist, according to CareerCast. Dental hygienist, ranked sixth, is the top job that requires only an associate degree. Pay averages $68,250 and demand is growing rapidly, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Worst jobs are enlisted military personnel, lumberjack and, bottom of the barrel, newspaper reporter.
Job seekers don’t need a bachelor’s degree and experience to work at McDonald’s, reports the Boston Globe.
An independent job search site inaccurately claimed the McDonald’s in Winchendon, Massachusetts was looking for college graduates with one to two years of experience to work as cashiers.
McDonald’s cashiers need a bachelor’s degree and one to two years of experience, according to a want ad for a McDonald’s in Winchedon, Massachusetts. ”Get a weekly paycheck with a side order of food, folks and fun,” says the ad.
Is it for real? If it’s a joke, nobody’s laughing.
Air traffic controllers average more than $100,000 a year — without a bachelor’s degree, reports the Wall Street Journal. Also lucrative: radiation therapist, dental hygienist, nuclear medicine technologist and fashion designer.
As student debt mounts, colleges and universities face pressure to disclose their graduates’ earnings, writes Jon Marcus for the Hechinger Report.
Joyce English was about to start studying toward an associate degree she hoped would lead to a job as a consultant to healthcare companies around Tacoma, Wash., where she lives.
Then she discovered a database created by the state’s workforce training agency estimating what she’d earn with that degree versus how much she could make in other jobs with other majors and degrees from colleges and universities across the state.
. . . “You obviously want something out of your education,” says English, who changed her mind and is now majoring in what she learned is the more lucrative field of business management at Pierce College. “You don’t want to go into something that’s going to pay you less than it cost to go to college.”
Washington, Florida Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia have released wage information by major, degree and institutution. Colorado, Nevada and Texas will do so soon. Congress is considering a bill that would require every college to disclose the average annual earnings of its graduates.
“I can imagine some hard questions being asked” by parents, students and legislators armed with knowledge like this, says Mark Schneider, a vice president at the American Institutes for Research and president of College Measures, which is helping states create such earnings databases.
. . . nearly 90 percent of incoming freshmen say the main reason they enrolled in college was “to be able to get a better job,” UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute reports. “And probably 100 percent of their parents say that,” says Schneider.
“It’s the no-name comprehensives, the regional campuses, the third-tier not-for-profits—their business model is going to be held up and people are going to ask about it,” Schneider says. “ ‘Why are you charging me $40,000 a year? What’s the outcome at the end of the day? What am I getting for all this time and money?’ ”
Higher-education leaders worry students will shun the liberal arts in favor more lucrative majors.
“Follow your passion” should be the message, not “show me the money,” says Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. “Your college decision should be about becoming an educated person—giving yourself a resource that will increase in value your entire life, finding something you care deeply about, and developing the skills to go on learning what you need to learn.”
The 10 top-paying jobs for associate degree graduates are lead by air traffic controller (median pay of $108,040), construction manager ($83,860) and radiation therapist ($74,980), according to NerdWallet.
Among fast-growing jobs, occupations requiring an associate’s degree had the highest average growth — 35 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Health care jobs are driving the rapid expansion of jobs requiring a two-year degree.
Three careers made the high-pay and high-growth list: registered nurse, medical sonographer and dental hygienist.
Top Jobs Requiring an Associate’s by Median Pay
Some Montana teens are choosing high-paying jobs in the booming energy industry over college, reports the New York Times from the town of Sidney. It’s a “risky” decision, opines the Times. What if the oil and gas drilling boom is shut down by environmental regulation?
. . . with unemployment at more than 12 percent nationwide for young adults and college tuition soaring, students here on the snow-glazed plains of eastern Montana said they were ready to take their chances.
“I just figured, the oil field is here and I’d make the money while I could,” said Tegan Sivertson, 19, who monitors pipelines for a gas company, sometimes working 15-hour days. “I didn’t want to waste the money and go to school when I could make just as much.”
Less than a year after proms and homecoming games, teenagers like Mr. Sivertson now wake at 4 a.m. to make the three-hour trek to remote oil rigs. They fish busted machinery out of two-mile-deep hydraulic fracturing wells and repair safety devices that keep the wells from rupturing . . .
One high school senior makes $24 an hour as a cashier in Williston, N.D., the epicenter of the boom. She plans to work for a few years, save her money and move to Denver.
In eastern Montana, counselors say “more and more students were interested in working for at least a year after graduation and getting technical training instead of a four-year degree.”
Last year, one-third of the graduating seniors at Sidney High School headed off to work instead of going to college or joining the military, a record percentage. Some found work making deliveries to oil rigs, doing construction and repairing machinery. Others decided to first seek training as welders or diesel mechanics, which pay more than entry-level jobs.
Meanwhile, enrollment at Dawson Community College in Glendive, about an hour from Sidney, has fallen to 225 students from 446 just a few years ago, as fewer local students pursue two-year degrees.
People are moving to the energy belt in search of jobs at good wages, but even more jobs are expected.
Shay Findlay found a job repairing drilling pumps the day after he was graduated from high school. At 19, he earns $40,000 a year and enjoys his work. His friends are home from college for Christmas break with “stories of dorm-room dramas and drunken scuffles with campus police officers,” reports the Times. “They’re going to have to come back and look for work,” he said. “And there’s nothing but oil fields over here.”
Who’s taking the risk? Findlay’s party-hearty friends are very likely to drop out of college owing money. Honor-roll students with the ability and motivation to earn a degree — petroleum engineering pays very, very well — will benefit from going straight to university. But that’s not who’s earning a welding certificate or working as repairmen, drivers and cashiers.
The New York Times is worried about the risk to the “college-industrial complex,” writes Heather Mac Donald. “Too many high-school graduates are reflexively going to college as it is, without a clue what they are doing there or how to take advantage of higher education.” They aren’t studying the great ideas of Western civilization, she writes. Most will “double major in communications and binge drinking.”
“What is your dream job and how is your college helping you get there?” DREAM Big for College is offering scholarships to community college students who submit informal videos that describe their obstacles and inspiration, and how they’re using Achieving the Dream programs to reach their goals. Videos can be submitted through Nov. 28.
Almost half the jobs lost in the recession have been recovered and virtually all the added jobs require a college credential of some kind, reports the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce.
“It is a tough job market for college graduates but far worse for those without a college education,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, the Georgetown Center’s director and co-author of the report.
Four-year college graduates continue to earn twice as much as high school graduates. Unemployment is relatively high for graduates, but they do much better than workers with only a high school diploma.
. . . in 2012, seven percent of graduates with a bachelor degree or better are still unemployed and another 14 percent are underemployed in jobs beneath their skill levels. By comparison, the unemployment rate for new high school graduates is 24 percent and 42 percent for those individuals are underemployed.
Jobs that require bachelor’s degrees have been the big winner, increasing by 2.2 million jobs since the recession began.
Those jobs that required some college or an associate’s degree declined by 1.8 million in the recession but have regained 1.6 million of those job losses since the recovery began in 2010. At the same time 5.8 million jobs for those with high school or less have been lost since the recession began.
“In the mid 1970s, less than 30 percent of jobs in America required any education beyond high school,” said Jamie P. Merisotis, president and chief executive officer of Lumina Foundation. “Today, the majority of U.S. jobs require a postsecondary degree or credential.”
In blue-collar sectors, which took the brunt of the recession, college-educated workers were much less likely to lose their jobs. For example, 25 percent of construction workers with high school diplomas were laid off compared to two percent of college graduates.
College enrollment jumped sharply in the recession, peaking in 2009 but has fallen off rapidly since then. Since 2006, the rate of increase in male enrollment has caught up and slightly surpassed the rate of increase in female enrollment.