Friday, September 30, 2016

What Type of Job Will I Find, and What Education do I Need to Get it?

Don Siegel

In my last post I reported on the finding that a college degree is associated with significantly enhancing one’s lifetime earnings. But, I also conveyed that going to college was not necessarily the right move for everyone. However, what is true is that whether or not someone decides to go to college, they will ultimately need to find a job. Clearly, it is difficult to know what job may be appropriate, if one does not know what they may like doing, or the sorts of things for which they may actually be paid. Where even should a young person start their research?  While there are different ways to get help with resolving this problem, a tool that I believe can be very useful is The Occupational Outlook Handbook, produced by The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This wonderful resource surveys a wide array of occupations and provides projections about whether they will be expanding or contracting over the next decade, identifies the necessary entry level of education, and conveys whether on the job training is provided. Descriptions of jobs entail what workers do, what the work environment is like, how to go about qualifying for a position, and where jobs are most likely to be available. Median salaries are also given. For a high school or college student who is perplexed about future employment possibilities, the Occupational Outlook Handbook can stimulate thinking and provide direction regarding concrete steps to take in order to qualify for a real job that aligns with their interests.

Below are a couple of examples of how the Occupational Outlook Handbook works:

A.   Entering high school diploma or equivalent and a projected job growth of 20 – 29 percent, I found the following:

Solar photovoltaic installers piqued my interest, and by clicking on its link I found the following information:
·      Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, often called PV installers, assemble, install, or maintain solar panel systems on roofs or other structure
·      Although some installers need only a high school diploma and they typically receive on-the-job training lasting up to 1 year, many candidates take a course at a technical school or community college, or receive training as part of an apprenticeship program.
·      The median annual wage for solar photovoltaic installers was $37,830 in May 2015.
·      Employment of solar photovoltaic (PV) installers is projected to grow 24 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The continued expansion and adoption of solar panel installations will result in excellent job opportunities for qualified individuals, particularly those who complete a photovoltaic training course at a community college or technical school.
B.    As a contrast I did the same as above, but entered college diploma for entry level education, and found the following:

Drilling down to the highest paying occupation, Biomedical Engineers, the following information appeared:
·      Biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with medical and biological sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software used in healthcare.
·      Biomedical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or bioengineering from an accredited program in order to enter the occupation. Alternatively, they can get a bachelor’s degree in a different field of engineering and then either choose biological science electives or get a graduate degree in biomedical engineering.
·      The median annual wage for biomedical engineers was $86,220 in May 2015.
·      Employment of biomedical engineers is projected to grow 23 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growing technology and its application to medical equipment and devices, along with an aging population, will increase demand for the work of biomedical engineers.
As one can see by playing around with different parameters this tool can be very informative in finding projections about various occupations, information about prerequisites for entering a field, and what the working environment may be like. For youth who wish to find out more about what their future may hold, I highly recommend that they take some time, and explore occupations that may be of interest.  If they find occupations that they wish to pursue, they can then make more informed decisions about the best way to structure their education.  

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