What You Need to Know About the Fastest-Growing, Best-Paid Jobs for New Grads — and Where to Find Them

published Jul 16, 2021
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It’s that time of year again: Recent graduates and young workers are not only looking for work, but looking for opportunities that set them up for success in places they want to live.

The job market may look slightly different these days, especially for recent graduates who are looking to earn some of their first work experience. According to ThinkImpact, there are over 4 million college graduates expected to enter the job force this summer. Sure, landing your first job, or a job in a new field can feel stressful. But if you’re looking for a new career move with a fast-growing industry that pays well and is in a great location, we’ve got you covered. 

RentCafe recently released findings detailing the best grad-friendly jobs — defined loosely as entry-level positions that require a college degree but minimal experience, and in fields that are positioned to only grow — and where to find them. Take a look, and go forth and prosper!

Credit: Liz Calka

Look toward healthcare as a top choice.

The tech world has some competition: in fact, the healthcare industry has seen substantial growth over the last few years and is expected to grow even more given a retiring workforce, medical advancements, and the consistent need for qualified staff, RentCafe noted. So, if you’re already on a medical track, or are interested in going back to school to learn more, studying to be a nurse practitioner might be for you. 

Based on recent findings from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, nurse practitioners can earn fairly significant salaries, with a median annual wage of $109,800. Of course, becoming a nurse practitioner requires a fair amount of homework: after earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing in your undergraduate studies and receiving your nursing license, you’ll have to attain a Master’s of Nursing or Doctorate in Nursing Practice and then licensure and certification from a specialty board.

Other top-earning roles include physician assistants, with a $112,300 median wage, and medical and health services managers, with a $101,000 median wage. Across all three of these career paths, there’s a projected growth rate of between 31 to 52 percent in the next decade.

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Pack up the van: North Carolina is the place to be.

While most recent grads may look toward larger metropolitan cities like New York or Los Angeles first, the South shouldn’t be overlooked. From RentCafe’s findings, North Carolina is a great mix of popular jobs and terrific quality of life.

Durham — ranked seven out of 20 on the list — has become an enclave for many looking to settle, with its proximity to higher education institutions, historic sites, and a vibrant arts scene. For those hoping to kick off their health or medical career, Durham is a great spot to start, as part of the Research Triangle of North Carolina State University, Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill.

It doesn’t hurt that there are 87 grad-friendly jobs per every 1,000 listings, or that the average rent for an apartment is $1,231, for homes that are sized at 935 square feet on average.  

Other great metropolitan areas in the Tar Heel State include Raleigh — with 79 grad-friendly jobs per 1,000 listings — and Charlotte — with 73 grad-friendly jobs per 1,000 listings.

STEM-jobs are here to stay, so check them out.

If you’re more interested in the science and tech fields, there’s always a need for new employees in the STEM world — and these jobs are continuing to rise in popularity and salary expectations.

If you studied computer science in school, listen up: Software developer roles will increase in popularity and opportunity by over 21 percent before 2030. This position can take you anywhere from a small firm to a large tech hub, and offers a median annual wage of $107,500. From this role, there are related positions that could also lead you to a lucrative and enjoyable role, such as an information security analyst (average salary of $99,730) or computer and information research scientist (average salary of $122,840).

Those roles may call to mind Silicon Valley, Seattle, or Austin, but you may not want to spend all of your salary on rent. Instead, look toward slightly smaller but still considerable areas, such as Madison, Wisconsin, or Dayton, Ohio.

Major metropolitan areas are also searching for new hires.

You may still be itching to get to the big city, and that’s completely understandable. But it may be best to look at the data and see what spots offer you more chances of getting that great job.

Across industries and professions, the findings are clear: San Jose, California; Washington, D.C.; and Seattle, Washington offer the best chance of landing a desirable job.

In the Bay Area, there are 166 hot grad-friendly jobs out of every 1,000 listings. There are tons of opportunities for a fun social life and a great work life, with popular companies including Adobe, Chegg, and Zoom.

Washington, D.C., remains a focal point for those in the business and finance fields, which also align with more STEM-focused opportunities. The nation’s capital has approximately 113 in 1,000 jobs geared specifically for recent grads, and offers new residents free museum entry, a global community, and historic, gorgeous homes.

The Pacific Northwest echelon of Seattle, Washington, is also a great landing spot, with a wide swath of tech focused jobs amounting to 111 hot grad-friendly roles out of every 1,000. Whether you choose to enter medical and health services, construction or software development, there are companies throughout the Seattle area that would align with your growth potential.