While national unemployment has dropped, the job market remains especially tough for millennials. Youth advocacy group Young Invincibles crunched the numbers recently and found that unemployment for people between the ages of 18 and 34 was 40 percent higher than average. Wages have fallen or stagnated as the cost of college – the supposed path to prosperity – has climbed.
But there are still good jobs and solid career paths if you know where to look. On that front, Young Invincibles analyzed over 400 occupations and considered salary along with expected growth and access. (A millennial can’t generally walk straight into the C-Suite, so the group looked at whether each job is open to young workers.)
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Here are their top 25:
No surprise, STEM jobs – science, technology, engineering and math – are heavily represented. But Tom Allison, one of the report’s authors and research and policy manager at Young Invincibles, tells Next America that “the pathway to prosperity is pretty diverse.”
Public relations specialists make the cut, as do music agents and fundraisers. Not all of the jobs in the top 25 require a degree, either. Elevator installers rank high at No. 8 and typically require only a high school diploma.
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Spotted a job that sounds appealing? Maybe you’re asking yourself, “What should I major in to get there?” That’s where things get tricky. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists a typical education level for each job, it’s a guess at best.
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There is no central database that says graduates from X college who majored in Y earn Z on average. Powerful college lobbies have fought such student record systems for years, arguing that they infringe on student privacy. (The fact that tracking such statistics would put greater pressure on the schools to graduate employable students doesn’t hurt, either.)
The Obama administration had proposed a college ratings system that aimed to track things like graduation rate and job placement, but that plan was recently scrapped after intense pushback from colleges. So Young Invincibles couldn’t spell out which majors can lead to which careers, or which schools are ideal for certain jobs. Allison also noted that different people prioritize different things. Where one person might be willing to work 80-hour weeks for six figures, another might prefer to take a lower salary for a generous time-off policy. No data set can account for all those factors.
“This list can provide a rough sketch of what careers to pursue that might lead to a good economic outcome,” he said. So this roundup isn’t gospel, but it is a pretty good starting point for millennials who have often been left to connect the dots from high school to college to career on their own.