Hop on these entry-level jobs while they’re hot!
Congratulations, graduates! You have sat through the classes, done the work, and walked across the stage to accept your degree. Now, you must brace yourself for going from the most-experienced student on campus to the least-experienced person in the interview waiting room. And now, a recent grad's job search is made even more stressful by the prospect of student loan payments. Talk about pressure!
There are plenty of jobs for college graduates out there, but how do you choose the best entry-level job? Is there a blueprint to help you maximize long-term career opportunities? To help recent grads make the right career choice, we have compiled a list of the top 10 fastest growing job fields that show potential for entry-level jobs for college graduates.
1. Account Manager
You can think of an account manager as a relationship quarterback. Depending on the company, this position can include a mix of working in a corporate office and visiting clients — perfect for young professionals who want to get exposure to different work environments and don't mind some travel. Job responsibilities include onboarding new clients and managing client satisfaction. Account managers must also learn to uncover or create new business opportunities by combining a solid understanding of the company's products and services with a knowledge of client needs. Entry-level salaries are in the upper $40K range, and the job can offer a great start to a career in sales, marketing, or business development.
2. Software Engineer
Software engineering isn't just about sitting in the basement staring at the glaring computer screen. Experienced software engineers will tell you that their jobs are about people — not about writing code. They work with the end users to determine and define needs, communicate those needs to coders and designers, and help coordinate the feedback cycle as software is developed. The knowledge of programming languages is just the baseline, and outstanding software engineers supplement it with great communication and project-management skills. Salaries start at $54K and many employers offer great perks, including an option to work remotely.
3. Business Analyst
Business analyst positions come in all shapes and colors. From systems and IT to business processes and consulting, recent college graduates with strong analytical skills and a passion for making sense of trends and data have no shortage of companies ready to hire them. With salaries starting in the $40K range, some of the job's requirements include proficiency with modeling techniques, business case development, and strong technical writing skills. If you are interested in developing technical expertise in a specific area, want to manage projects, or hope to move into business or practice management, a position of a business analyst is a great start.
4. Customer Service Rep
Customer service jobs may have a bad reputation, but in reality, they can offer fantastic opportunities if you choose the right company. These jobs come with a variety of titles, from call-center staff to a higher-end “customer concierge.” You get an opportunity to get things done, help people, and solve problems. Key skills include conflict management and resolution, problem solving, and relationship building. You can expect to earn a little over $30K a year without prior experience.
5. Administrative Assistant
An administrative assistant starts out making a salary in the mid-$30Ks, although salary levels vary depending on the range of responsibilities and experience level. An administrative position is not limited to getting someone's coffee to making photocopies! Specific responsibilities will depend on the company and the person you will be reporting to, so you must choose carefully if you pursue this kind of job. The right position can offer unique insights into the inner workings of a business and give you the opportunity to be someone's external brain. Exceptional organizational skills, communication skills, and grace under pressure are a must. Truly effective administrative assistants are worth their weight in gold and their salaries reflect that.
Whether you choose an internal recruiter position or opt to work for a headhunting company, be prepared for a fast-paced environment that requires a lot of relationship building! Your job is essentially one of a matchmaker: identifying needs and finding the right people to fill them. From sourcing candidates to guiding them through the selection process, you will need exceptional communication skills, empathy, and an ability to deal with stress. Labor law, healthcare, and deep dives into the qualifications that are specific to your industry are just some of the technical areas you will learn. Being a recruiter is a fantastic chance to grow your professional network, acquire new skills, and create a great foundation for whatever you choose to do next. Salaries start at $39K, and many positions offer bonuses or other performance-based compensation components on top of the base salary.
“Consultant” is a catch-all category! Management consultant positions with specialty firms are an obvious choice, but there are many other positions to consider (from environmental consulting to college admissions). If you have an interest and/or a solid foundation in a technical field, being a consultant will allow you to deepen your expertise while helping people solve complex puzzles. An associate consultant at a management consulting firm can make as much as $100K — an enviable salary that often comes with a steep learning curve, long hours, and travel requirements. Many young professionals choose to dedicate a certain number of years to a consulting firm in exchange for making connections, learning from the best, and boosting their earning potential. For those who enjoy the challenge and the lifestyle, a life-long career in consulting can be both satisfying and highly lucrative.
8. Investment Banking Analyst
Got strong research skills, a love of finance or economics, and a head for analysis? An investment banking analyst position may be the right fit! Mutual and pension funds, insurance companies, investment firms, and banks all need analysts to make sense of data and support strategic decision making. The average salary for an analyst is almost $70K, and many firms offer sign-on and performance-based bonuses on top of that. Keep in mind that at the entry level, the kind of work you get to do (as well as the quality of the people you get to work with) might matter as much or more than your starting salary.
9. Graphic Designer
The beauty of jobs in graphic design is that there is no limit to them! From financial firms to hospitals, consumer electronics to video game design — every industry needs visually-compelling designs. Add in the possibility of working at marketing agencies or freelancing and the playing field becomes even larger. If you want to do something creative every day, shape the way people interact with a product or a service, or get a brand's message out to thousands of potential customers, this is a great job for you. In addition to a bachelor's degree, you will need to demonstrate proficiency with design software. Be prepared to present a solid portfolio that highlights your skills. Salaries start at $30K.
10. Staff Accountant
Money is the at the heart of any business, and a start in accounting can create a solid foundation for virtually any career. A bachelor's degree in business, accounting, or finance is enough to get you started, although you may need a master's degree (or its equivalent) if you are hoping to get a CPA license. Standard job descriptions include analyzing reports, preparing journal entries, compiling financial statements, and making sure the company's bills get paid. As you progress in your career, you can expect more exposure to different departments and decisions, from process design to strategic decision making. Entry-level salaries are around $48K.
While these are the top 10 jobs for recent graduates according to Forbes, you don't have to pick one of these to be successful. The best way to use this list is to create an awareness about the fastest-growing career fields that offer great opportunities right now. Beyond that, don't stress about choosing one of the jobs from this list, or any “perfect job” for that matter! As a recent graduate, you have enormous freedom to shape your career. The new economy requires all professionals, young and experienced, to be flexible. Think of where you can add value with your unique set of technical skills and personal talents. Work hard and remain open to new opportunities and you'll be on your way!
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