Feeling stuck? Maybe one of these jobs will click with you, grad.
The class of 2021 stepped out into a changed world with different hiring opportunities and challenges than one would have expected four years ago. Still, looking for that first “real” job right after obtaining a college degree presents many of the same challenges and questions as always. How do you position yourself as a solid candidate when you are competing against professionals with several years of work experience? Are you open to relocating for your job? How much travel is optimal? And, last but not least, how much money do you need to make to support your lifestyle needs, start a savings plan, and pay back those student loans?
When pondering those questions, many recent college graduates find it helpful to look at what others in their position are doing. You can accomplish that by connecting with your college peers, using the resources of your school's career services office, and even dipping your toe into job review sites like Glassdoor or community sites like Blind — although each of those has its own limitations.
Or, you could look at country-wide trends that analyze bigger sample sizes to draw broader conclusions about your next career move. This recent study from LinkedIn is a great start.LinkedIn has analyzed its data on user profiles and job openings to present, among other things, the list of the most popular jobs for new college grads. Read on for the top 10 best entry-level jobs for college graduates!
1. Software Engineer
Technology roles are among the top growing roles as the industry pushes to improve diversity. In 2021, software engineering roles attract college students from a wide range of backgrounds. Microsoft, IBM, Google, and Oracle are on the list of the top 15 companies hiring the most U.S. graduates, but don't feel like you are limited to household names. There are many great companies both inside and outside the technology industry that need your skills. From learning about end-user needs to translating those needs into code and coordinating the build-out and testing of large software projects, this is an exciting and dynamic field with lots of growth opportunities. Salaries start at $83,000 (well above the average starting salary for new recent college graduates).
2. Registered Nurse
The healthcare industry has many opportunities for various skill levels — and hires lots of recent college graduates. As the U.S. is projected to enter a shortage of nurses driven by the needs of the aging Baby Boomer population, Registered Nursing is among the top industries that are likely to experience growth through 2026. Hospital jobs are there for the new grads who are open to working 12-hour shifts, nights, and weekends. There are also traditional nine-to-five nursing jobs at family medical offices and schools, as well as opportunities to travel which could be amazing for young professionals. Salaries start at $62,400.
Sales-centric positions get a bad rep, but they can be a fantastic way to build critical skills that will pay dividends no matter what career you choose to do next. There's no better place to get over the fear of talking to new people, learn how to deal with rejection, find the balance between persuasive and pushy, and practice deep listening. Sales jobs are incredibly varied, and virtually every company has a need for professionals in sales roles. Salaries start at $31,100, but could be higher or lower depending on the type of compensation that comes with the specific position.
Teaching positions come with many challenges (a room of unruly kids, demanding parents, strict reporting requirements imposed by school districts), but they can also be incredibly rewarding. As more public and private schools reassess their approach to education, implement new technologies, and adapt classrooms to prepare students for the ever-changing world, young graduates are positioned to make a real difference. Salaries start at $40,000.
It's not just about pocket protectors! Accounting is a dynamic field, and specialists can truly choose their own path across all industries. Yes, three out of the four top auditing firms (namely EY, PWC, and Deloitte) are among the top five companies hiring the most new graduates, but you don't have to limit yourself to just audit and tax. Money is the heart of any business. Understanding the financial backbone of an enterprise will set you up for a lifetime of professional success. A bachelor's degree in business, accounting, or finance is enough to get you started in most staff accounting positions. If you are hoping to get a CPA license (and make the higher pay that comes with that well-recognized certification), then you may need a master's degree or its equivalent. Entry-level salaries are around $48,000.
6. Project Manager
A great project manager is worth their weight in gold. From identifying and clearing bottlenecks to ensuring the flow of communication in cross-functional teams, a position in project management is a crash course in risk management, stress resistance, and diplomacy. These are dynamic positions that can often be done remotely, so new graduates who are looking for the flexibility of working from anywhere should take note. You may need to start as an assistant and then take a couple of years to earn your Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. However, once you get past the initial hurdles, the flexibility and the career potential of these in-demand jobs can be remarkable. As a bonus, you will get to meet and work with lots of different people, gaining exposure and building a world-class professional network in the process. Entry-level salaries start at $57,500, although after a few years of experience and a PMP certificate under your belt, you could earn $90,000 or more.
7. Administrative Assistant
An administrative assistant starts out making a salary of around $35,400, although base salaries vary depending on the range of responsibilities and experience level. This can be a phenomenal first step on your way to building your resume, exploring an industry you are curious about, or getting insight into how companies actually work. The best administrative assistants are natural organizers and strong communicators, cool under pressure, and quick to solve (or prevent) unexpected problems. If you are interested in working as an assistant for your long-term career, becoming an executive assistant to a high-ranking CEO, movie producer, or attorney could earn you a seat at the boss' table and a high salary.
8. Account Executive
An account executive is a type of sales role, although it often places a greater emphasis on managing existing client relationships as opposed to bringing in new clients. An account executive's job is to balance the needs and wants of each client against real-world constraints imposed by contract terms, resource availability, and practical requirements of the company. If you like working with people and solving interesting puzzles, and if you are naturally oriented on client service, an account executive position may be a great fit for you. Entry-level salaries begin at $55,000.
9. Financial Analyst
Banks, insurance, financial services, consulting agencies, healthcare: The list of companies that are looking to hire financial analysts is long and varied. Your day-to-day responsibilities will depend on the needs of your employer, but most financial analysts start out building mathematical models, analyzing data, preparing reports, and learning about the needs of those who use the results of their work. Yes, a head for the numbers will give you an advantage — but so will your ability to drill down into the reasons why a certain analysis is important, creativity to present the data in a compelling way, and strong attention to detail. The average salary for entry-level positions is $59,300.
10. Account Manager
Depending on the company, an account manager might work in a corporate office, visit clients, or travel around to conferences. Your ultimate goal is to deliver great client service and solve whatever puzzles arise in the company-client collaboration. Great account managers are also skilled at uncovering unmet needs and creating new business opportunities by deepening relationships with existing clients. Entry-level salaries are around $52,900, and the job can offer a great start to a career in sales, marketing, or business development.