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 RankJob TypeImmediate Opportunity RankGrowth Potential RankHardship Rank
1Web Applications Developer I9165
2Information Security Analyst I22151
T-3Designer I - Web26168
T-3Attorney I19446
5Software Engineer I32339
6Financial Analyst I131359
7Market Research Analyst I361121
8Network Engineer I72046
9Training Specialist I153421
10Programmer I18475
11Operations Research Analyst I381145
12Employment Law Attorney I49446
13Database Administrator I162846
14Tax Attorney I55446
15Civil Engineer I191866
16Patent Attorney I61446
17Architect I311091
18Geophysicist I56186
19Systems Administrator I114346
20Drilling Engineer I323105
21Engineer I15368
22Electrical Engineer I65743
23Credit Analyst I473710
24Financial Reporting Accountant I193059
T-25Network Planning Analyst I372046
T-25Environmental Engineer I221983
27Chemical Engineer I173668
28Accountant I283059
T-29Electronics Engineer I106643
T-29Mine Engineer I66868
31Geotechnical Engineer I67868
32Benefits Administrator I392465
33Logistics Analyst I484021
34Mechanical Engineer I57067
35Systems Engineer I27468
36Biomedical Engineer I711468
37Materials Engineer I86568
38Consumer Loan Officer I922210
39Tax Accountant I443059
40Secretary I35824
41Aerospace Engineer I255068
T-42Buyer I264880
T-42Geologist I102186
44Env., Health, and Safety Engineer I522768
45Hardware Engineer I1145109
46Industrial Engineer I147468
47Safety Representative I47884
48Cost Accountant I593059
49Consumer Credit Analyst I983710
50Chemist I604442
T-51Budget Analyst I309210
T-51Computer Numeric Control Machine Programmer I86605
53Certified Nursing Assistant - Nursing Home Salaries506918
54Network Service Representative I69748
55Benefits Analyst I298821
56Safety Technician I226195
57Employee Relations Specialist I527121
58Public Relations Specialist I725530
59Installation & Maintenance Technician I4046101
T-60Writer I - Web636229
T-60Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant328431
62Technical Writer I465185
63Environmental Engineering Technician I815333
64Logistics Clerk1034021
65Underwriter (Life) I916710
66Automotive Mechanic I454997
T-67Chemical Technician I746433
T-67Teaching Assistant (College)90791
69Landscape Architect I832691
70Telecommunications Technician I4256103
71Carpenter I7729104
72Computer Operator I431023
73Electrician I7542107
74Interior Designer I935839
75Accounting Clerk I778320
76Plumber I9725102
77General Maintenance Worker I586298
78Microbiologist I1013980
79Claims Adjuster I618064
80Industrial Designer I529039
81Systems Engineering Technician I349954
82Machinist I577389
83Biologist I955180
84Electrical Engineering Technician I648654
85Mechanical Engineering Technician I649333
86Aircraft Painter I998127
87Building Inspector826896
88Environmental Planner I857288
89Emergency Dispatcher899319
90Electric/Electronics Technician I688593
91Refinery Operator I518799
92New Accounts Representative I4110816
93Technical Librarian I1077732
T-94Industrial Engineering Technician I769954
T-94Mechanical Drafter I869354
96Sheetmetal Mechanic I1093594
97Payroll Clerk869178
98Records Clerk8010616
99Civil Engineering Technician I849854
100Policy Processing Clerk9610233
101Tool and Die Maker I799790
102Teller I6910915
103Welder I7396106
104Floor Assembler I10859100
105Architectural Drafter I10410133
106Electronics Assembler I9410727
107Claims Processing Clerk10510233
108Boilermaker I10089108
109Consumer Loan Servicing Clerk I10610579

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


  • 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,, and

The article The Best and Worst Entry-Level Jobs originally appeared on

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