Young jobseekers looking for good places to launch their careers should consider three areas in particular: arts, skilled trades, and sciences. We analyzed hundreds of job categories across the country and found these three to be especially popular among (and hospitable to) young people.
Besides boasting remarkably solid wages and employing a high concentration of workers age 19-24, each category contains plenty of jobs that don’t require a college education—allowing more flexibility for young workers that might not have a full college education or are still finishing their degree.
Although let’s be clear: No college education doesn’t mean no talent. Cream, as they say, rises. Especially in the arts, workers must be uniquely skilled if they want to stand out in the throng of other actors, dancers, choreographers, and athletes.
In the following sections, we provide two lists for each category: the occupations that require a high school diploma, and the occupations that require at least some form of postsecondary education. (Science jobs consistently demand an associate, if not bachelor’s, degree, so they appear in only one list.)
Careers in the Arts
Three eye-catching facts here. First, art/entertainment/media jobs pay better than either of the other categories. Second, even without a college education, workers can earn nearly as much as if they did. For occupations that require a degree, the average hourly wage is $29.55; for those that don’t, only slightly lower at $27.85. And third, a greater chunk of jobs in the arts (especially those that don’t require a degree) belong to workers sub-25, in contrast with science and skilled trade jobs. For example, 32% of choreographers, 31% of dancers, 23% of costume attendants, and 22% of coaches & scouts are age 19-24.
A few more observations. Film and video editors earn the most (average $38.89/hour), followed by actors ($38.81), athletes ($34.12), and media & communication equipment workers ($33.81). Also, check out the remarkably high number of fitness trainers, the largest occupation at over 260,000 jobs.
Where’s the best opportunity for getting hired? We could consider factors such as job count and recent growth, but for now let’s just look at the cities where arts jobs are the most concentrated.
Concentration is measured by location quotient (LQ). The national average concentration of any job in any given area is 1.0, so (for example) a concentration of 2.0 means an occupation is twice as concentrated as the national average, and a concentration of 1.5 means it is one and a half times as concentrated as the national average.
Whether or not they require a degree, arts jobs are most concentrated in hubs like Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and Denver. See the top five cities for degree/non-degree occupations below.
High concentration of arts jobs (degree required)
- Washington, DC (2.43)
- Grand Rapids, MI (1.94)
- Los Angeles (1.83)
- Bridgeport, CT (1.61)
- Austin (1.57)
High concentration of arts jobs (no degree required)
- Los Angeles (2.37)
- Bridgeport, CT (2.08)
- Baton Rouge (1.7)
- Des Moines (1.58)
- Denver (1.51)
Careers in Skilled Trades
Luckily for hard workers who enjoy hands-on tasks, none of the top jobs in skilled trades demand more than a certificate. Most simply require a high school diploma, which makes these jobs perfect for that year off before college, during summers, or while taking classes.
Skilled trade jobs pay surprisingly well: an average of $20.35/hour for jobs requiring a high school diploma, and a bit higher at $22.27/hour for those needing a certificate. Jobs as electrical/electronics installers & repairers for transportation equipment (yes, you need a certificate) pay the highest ($28.03/hour).
Automotive service technicians & mechanics have the most jobs (nearly 657,000) and added the most new jobs since 2011 (45,000), but insulation workers have grown the fastest (18%).
Skilled trade jobs are especially concentrated in Florida—thanks to intense demand for insulation/roofing/construction workers. And of course, we all know the Sunshine State’s love for motorboat and recreational vehicles, which translates to a need for those automotive technicians.
High concentration of skilled trades jobs (no degree required)
- North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL (3.13)
- Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL (2.86)
- Baton Rouge (2.5)
- Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL (2.24)
- Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL (1.88)
High concentration of skilled trades jobs (degree required)
- Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL (1.51)
- Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL (1.5)
- Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL (1.47)
- Jackson, MS (1.47)
- Lancaster, PA (1.44)
Careers in the Sciences
As we mentioned in the beginning, all the top jobs for young people in life/physical/social sciences require at least an associate’s degree. Wages are solid at $22.81/hour, though (interestingly) still lower than the wages of jobs in the arts that don’t require a degree ($27.85). This further proves our earlier point: Young workers can’t go wrong trying out the arts!
Jobs in life/physical/social sciences are most concentrated in Albany, New York (2.28), San Francisco (2.19), and DC (2.09)—all over twice the national average.
High concentration of science jobs:
- Albany (2.28)
- San Francisco (2.19)
- DC (2.09)
- Sacramento (1.98)
- Tucson (1.92)