The Best and Worst Entry-Level Jobs

May is a month of big dreams and immense pressures for graduating seniors across the country. It's time to find a job, after all, and that is certainly no small task, with youth unemployment currently at 15.5% and with 36% of millennials choosing to live with their parents in the face of sparse opportunities.

But with that said, what we all really want at the end of the day is a career -- not just a job. We want growth potential -- both in terms of salary and responsibility. We want stability, and we want to do what we love. The question is how to go about obtaining such things in this uber-competitive job market.

One's career options following graduation are largely dictated by their school and academic focus of choice -- a fact that speaks to the importance of educational comparison shopping in this era of trillion-dollar student loan debts. Students and parents alike must consider the return on their education investment when planning their careers, and the process needs to begin in high school. It must then continue, and in fact come to a head, when it comes to the rite of passage that is finding an entry-level job.

So, which types of jobs, industries and areas of the country give you the best odds of following in the footsteps of Jack Welch, Jim Skinner, and Brian Dunn -- prominent CEOs who started at the lowest rungs of their respective companies? Or, perhaps more realistically, where might new job market entrants find the most attractive combination of a high starting salary and growth potential for their educational and experiential background?

In search of answers to those questions and actionable information for recent college and high school graduates, WalletHub decided to take stock of the entry-level job market. We did so by comparing 109 different types of entry-level jobs based on 11 key metrics, ranging from starting salaries to industry growth rate. Keep reading for a complete breakdown of our findings, as well as more information about the methodology we used to conduct this report.

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Detailed findings by job type

Overall Rank Job Type Immediate Opportunity Rank Growth Potential Rank Hardship Rank
1 Web Applications Developer I 9 16 5
2 Information Security Analyst I 22 15 1
T-3 Designer I - Web 26 16 8
T-3 Attorney I 19 4 46
5 Software Engineer I 3 23 39
6 Financial Analyst I 13 13 59
7 Market Research Analyst I 36 11 21
8 Network Engineer I 7 20 46
9 Training Specialist I 15 34 21
10 Programmer I 18 47 5
11 Operations Research Analyst I 38 11 45
12 Employment Law Attorney I 49 4 46
13 Database Administrator I 16 28 46
14 Tax Attorney I 55 4 46
15 Civil Engineer I 19 18 66
16 Patent Attorney I 61 4 46
17 Architect I 31 10 91
18 Geophysicist I 56 1 86
19 Systems Administrator I 11 43 46
20 Drilling Engineer I 32 3 105
21 Engineer I 1 53 68
22 Electrical Engineer I 6 57 43
23 Credit Analyst I 47 37 10
24 Financial Reporting Accountant I 19 30 59
T-25 Network Planning Analyst I 37 20 46
T-25 Environmental Engineer I 22 19 83
27 Chemical Engineer I 17 36 68
28 Accountant I 28 30 59
T-29 Electronics Engineer I 10 66 43
T-29 Mine Engineer I 66 8 68
31 Geotechnical Engineer I 67 8 68
32 Benefits Administrator I 39 24 65
33 Logistics Analyst I 48 40 21
34 Mechanical Engineer I 5 70 67
35 Systems Engineer I 2 74 68
36 Biomedical Engineer I 71 14 68
37 Materials Engineer I 8 65 68
38 Consumer Loan Officer I 92 22 10
39 Tax Accountant I 44 30 59
40 Secretary I 35 82 4
41 Aerospace Engineer I 25 50 68
T-42 Buyer I 26 48 80
T-42 Geologist I 102 1 86
44 Env., Health, and Safety Engineer I 52 27 68
45 Hardware Engineer I 11 45 109
46 Industrial Engineer I 14 74 68
47 Safety Representative I 4 78 84
48 Cost Accountant I 59 30 59
49 Consumer Credit Analyst I 98 37 10
50 Chemist I 60 44 42
T-51 Budget Analyst I 30 92 10
T-51 Computer Numeric Control Machine Programmer I 86 60 5
53 Certified Nursing Assistant - Nursing Home Salaries 50 69 18
54 Network Service Representative I 69 74 8
55 Benefits Analyst I 29 88 21
56 Safety Technician I 22 61 95
57 Employee Relations Specialist I 52 71 21
58 Public Relations Specialist I 72 55 30
59 Installation & Maintenance Technician I 40 46 101
T-60 Writer I - Web 63 62 29
T-60 Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant 32 84 31
62 Technical Writer I 46 51 85
63 Environmental Engineering Technician I 81 53 33
64 Logistics Clerk 103 40 21
65 Underwriter (Life) I 91 67 10
66 Automotive Mechanic I 45 49 97
T-67 Chemical Technician I 74 64 33
T-67 Teaching Assistant (College) 90 79 1
69 Landscape Architect I 83 26 91
70 Telecommunications Technician I 42 56 103
71 Carpenter I 77 29 104
72 Computer Operator I 43 102 3
73 Electrician I 75 42 107
74 Interior Designer I 93 58 39
75 Accounting Clerk I 77 83 20
76 Plumber I 97 25 102
77 General Maintenance Worker I 58 62 98
78 Microbiologist I 101 39 80
79 Claims Adjuster I 61 80 64
80 Industrial Designer I 52 90 39
81 Systems Engineering Technician I 34 99 54
82 Machinist I 57 73 89
83 Biologist I 95 51 80
84 Electrical Engineering Technician I 64 86 54
85 Mechanical Engineering Technician I 64 93 33
86 Aircraft Painter I 99 81 27
87 Building Inspector 82 68 96
88 Environmental Planner I 85 72 88
89 Emergency Dispatcher 89 93 19
90 Electric/Electronics Technician I 68 85 93
91 Refinery Operator I 51 87 99
92 New Accounts Representative I 41 108 16
93 Technical Librarian I 107 77 32
T-94 Industrial Engineering Technician I 76 99 54
T-94 Mechanical Drafter I 86 93 54
96 Sheetmetal Mechanic I 109 35 94
97 Payroll Clerk 86 91 78
98 Records Clerk 80 106 16
99 Civil Engineering Technician I 84 98 54
100 Policy Processing Clerk 96 102 33
101 Tool and Die Maker I 79 97 90
102 Teller I 69 109 15
103 Welder I 73 96 106
104 Floor Assembler I 108 59 100
105 Architectural Drafter I 104 101 33
106 Electronics Assembler I 94 107 27
107 Claims Processing Clerk 105 102 33
108 Boilermaker I 100 89 108
109 Consumer Loan Servicing Clerk I 106 105 79

Methodology
WalletHub began this report by assembling a list of 109 types of entry-level jobs. We then identified 11 key metrics that speak to various aspects of the immediate opportunities, prospects for growth, and potential hazards associated with each type of job. This allowed us to ultimately construct a hierarchy for the entry-level job market that illustrates the types of jobs that should be most attractive to new labor market entrants -- particularly recent graduates -- in both the near and short term.

Following are the specific metrics and corresponding weights that we used to construct these rankings. The three overall categories in which the metrics were grouped -- Immediate Opportunities, Growth Prospects, and Hardship -- were used for organizational purposes only and had no bearing on the overall rankings.

Immediate Opportunities

  • Median starting salary: 1
  • Number of job openings: 1
  • Unemployment rate: 0.5
  • Education requirement: 0.5

Growth Prospects

  • Projected job growth by 2022: 1
  • Income growth potential: 1
  • Typical on-the-job training: 1
  • Median annual salary: 1
  • Median tenure with employer: 0.5

Hardship

  • Number of fatal occupational injuries per 100.000 employees: 1
  • People working over 40 hours per week: 0.5

Sources: The information used to construct this report is courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Indeed.com, and Salary.com.


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