Graduation season is a time of big dreams and high pressure for soon-to-be job seekers across the country. This year, graduates have a distinct advantage as many jobs are desperate to hire in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and applicants have a lot of leverage to secure a solid package of compensation and benefits. Employers plan to hire over 26% more graduates from the Class of 2022 than they did from the Class of 2021.
Ultimately, many job-market entrants seek a career, not just a job. They want the attractive combination of a high starting salary and high growth for compensation and responsibility. They also want stability while doing what they love. The question is how to go about obtaining such things in the current job market.
In search of answers and actionable information for the Class of 2022, WalletHub took stock of the first-timer job market by comparing 108 entry-level positions based on 12 key metrics. Our data set ranges from average starting salary to projected job growth by 2030 to median tenure with an employer.
Best First Jobs
|Overall Rank||Job Type||Total Score||Immediate Opportunity||Growth Potential||Job Hazards|
|1||Software Engineer I||81.07||7||15||12|
|2||Electronics Engineer I||80.30||1||20||39|
|4||Systems Engineer I||79.68||5||23||33|
|5||Industrial Engineer I||79.51||10||23||33|
|6||Electrical Engineer I||79.21||3||28||39|
|7||Operations Research Analyst I||78.86||34||6||15|
|8||Hardware Engineer I||78.57||2||36||33|
|9||Web Applications Developer I||78.52||18||33||12|
|10||Env., Health, and Safety Engineer I||78.22||24||17||33|
|11||Designer I - Web||77.31||22||40||17|
|12||Database Administrator I||76.55||39||11||17|
|13||Safety Representative I||76.07||6||48||1|
|14||Systems Engineering Technician I||74.67||26||46||45|
|16||Safety Technician I||74.18||31||35||1|
|17||Certified Nursing Assistant - Nursing Home Salaries||73.54||41||37||29|
|19||Materials Engineer I||70.36||9||12||81|
|20||Chemical Engineer I||69.49||27||5||81|
|22||Financial Analyst I||69.35||12||30||71|
|23||Mechanical Engineer I||69.27||8||25||88|
|24||Systems Administrator I||68.88||15||32||64|
|26||Benefits Analyst I||68.74||23||78||24|
|27||Chemical Technician I||68.66||32||64||42|
|28||Market Research Analyst I||67.40||48||58||24|
|29||Environmental Engineer I||67.39||13||19||100|
|30||Network Engineer I||67.04||4||52||64|
|31||Training Specialist I||67.04||20||43||67|
|32||Industrial Designer I||66.50||70||34||49|
|33||Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant||66.50||72||41||30|
|34||Employment Law Attorney I||66.26||50||1||92|
|35||Aerospace Engineer I||66.23||36||10||81|
|36||Mechanical Engineering Technician I||66.12||49||57||42|
|37||Interior Designer I||66.05||69||39||49|
|38||Tax Attorney I||65.36||52||1||92|
|39||Information Security Analyst I||65.34||17||44||97|
|40||Industrial Engineering Technician I||65.14||71||46||45|
|41||Writer I - Web||65.14||87||14||32|
|42||Civil Engineer I||64.70||35||29||91|
|43||Budget Analyst I||64.42||25||99||27|
|44||Landscape Architect I||64.23||67||31||53|
|45||Installation & Maintenance Technician I||64.04||14||60||59|
|46||Patent Attorney I||63.95||56||1||92|
|47||Network Service Representative I||63.70||47||79||17|
|48||General Maintenance Worker I||62.40||33||72||56|
|50||Environmental Engineering Technician I||61.08||76||55||42|
|52||Logistics Analyst I||60.80||68||7||67|
|55||Employee Relations Specialist I||60.35||85||54||24|
|56||Electrical Engineering Technician I||59.29||46||90||45|
|58||New Accounts Representative I||57.31||42||107||20|
|59||Drilling Engineer I||57.29||58||16||100|
|60||Geotechnical Engineer I||57.20||75||21||81|
|64||Public Relations Specialist I||56.10||65||45||87|
|66||Mine Engineer I||55.96||78||21||81|
|67||Telecommunications Technician I||55.84||60||53||60|
|68||Network Planning Analyst I||55.26||57||56||64|
|69||Accounting Clerk I||54.89||63||102||16|
|70||Biomedical Engineer I||54.79||83||26||81|
|71||Credit Analyst I||54.78||21||96||71|
|72||Claims Adjuster I||54.63||73||86||41|
|74||Underwriter (Life) I||54.07||81||85||27|
|76||Environmental Planner I||52.41||66||50||100|
|77||Technical Writer I||52.29||61||95||1|
|78||Civil Engineering Technician I||52.22||79||87||45|
|80||Benefits Administrator I||51.77||30||105||79|
|81||Financial Reporting Accountant I||50.84||44||91||71|
|82||Teaching Assistant (College)||50.47||106||75||23|
|83||Technical Librarian I||49.91||94||77||1|
|85||Tax Accountant I||49.09||53||91||71|
|87||Electric/Electronics Technician I||47.86||77||73||60|
|88||Electronics Assembler I||47.07||103||98||31|
|89||Refinery Operator I||46.97||99||69||58|
|90||Automotive Mechanic I||46.85||40||71||100|
|91||Cost Accountant I||46.68||62||91||71|
|93||Computer Numeric Control Machine Programmer I||46.50||93||49||99|
|94||Consumer Loan Servicing Clerk I||46.33||105||104||20|
|95||Consumer Loan Officer I||44.11||82||83||71|
|96||Policy Processing Clerk||44.07||95||100||1|
|97||Sheetmetal Mechanic I||43.69||107||70||55|
|98||Tool and Die Maker I||43.18||88||80||96|
|99||Architectural Drafter I||42.79||97||76||89|
|100||Consumer Credit Analyst I||42.39||80||96||71|
|101||Mechanical Drafter I||41.87||90||81||90|
|102||Claims Processing Clerk||41.38||104||100||1|
|104||Aircraft Painter I||41.08||98||84||80|
|107||Floor Assembler I||38.32||108||74||60|
Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that job, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.
Ask the Experts
The job market can be a very confusing place for new entrants. For tips that will help young people make the best possible career decisions, we asked the following questions to a panel of career counselors and human-resource experts. You can check out their bios and responses below.
- How can one tell from a job description whether or not that entry-level job will result in a career versus a dead end?
- How long should a new graduate stay in an entry-level job before looking for new opportunities?
- What advice do you have for young people choosing between an unpaid or low-paid opportunity in their preferred industry versus a job with a higher starting salary?
- What jobs or sectors are likely to disappear in the next 20 years?
- In light of the pandemic and work from home recommendations, what are the best entry-level jobs for long-term job security?
Ask the Experts
In order to identify the best and worst first-timer jobs, WalletHub compared 108 entry-level occupations across three key dimensions: 1) Immediate Opportunity, 2) Growth Potential and 3) Job Hazards.
We evaluated those dimensions using 12 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for entry-level workers.
We then determined each entry-level position’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its total score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Immediate Opportunity - Total Points: 40
- Average Starting Salary: Full Weight (~13.33 Points)
- Number of Job Openings: Full Weight (~13.33 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~13.33 Points)
Growth Potential - Total Points: 40
- Occupation Viability Score: Triple Weight (~14.12 Points)
Note: This metric measures the probability of a certain occupation being replaced with a computer.
- Projected Job Growth by 2030: Full Weight (~4.71 Points)
- Income Growth Potential: Full Weight (~4.71 Points)
- Typicality of On-the-Job Training: Full Weight (~4.71 Points)
- Median Annual Salary: Full Weight (~4.71 Points)
- Work Experience in Related Occupation Needed: Full Weight (~4.71 Points)
- Median Tenure with Employer: Half Weight (~2.35 Points)
Job Hazards - Total Points: 20
- Fatal Occupational Injuries per 100,000 Employees in Past Three Years: Full Weight (~10.00 Points)
- Typicality of Working More than 40 Hours per Week: Full Weight (~10.00 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, Indeed.com and Salary.com.