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The 10 Most Popular Jobs for Recent College Graduates Right Now — and How Much They Pay

From sales to health care, here's where recent grads work.


By Kaitlin Mulhere, Money

College graduation season is upon us. Yet for many soon-to-be alumni, there’s a still a big test on the horizon: The job hunt.

May is the start of the peak-hiring period for recent college grads, according to LinkedIn. Job offers continue throughout the summer and most graduates will be employed by the end of the year. In fact, the share of graduates that report finding jobs in their graduation year has been steadily climbing since 2012 as the economy has recovered and the labor market tightened. About 55% of the class of 2018 found a job before the end of the year.

Where did they find jobs? Often in health care, financial services, retail, and information technology, according to the 2019 LinkedIn Grads’ Guide to Getting Hired report. About 50% of recent grads will move from the city where they attended school for a new job, the report finds.

LinkedIn’s data team analyzed the profiles of nearly one million U.S. users who said they’d graduated between May 2017 and May 2018 to see what job titles they took on. The most popular jobs for new college grads have average starting salaries ranging from $31,000 to $83,000.

Keep two caveats in mind: The positions are based on LinkedIn’s universe of members and job postings, and it’s likely that the platform is more commonly use in some industries, like sales and marketing, than in others. The salaries also are based on national averages, meaning figures could swing in either direction depending on where you’re searching for a job.

These are the 10 jobs that the most 2018 graduates entered into, along with the current number of entry-level openings and the average annual salary for an entry-level worker.


1. Software engineer

  • Average salary for entry-level roles: $83,000
  • Open entry-level positions: 40,000

For the second year in a row, LinkedIn reports that software engineer was the job title that the highest number of recent graduates were seeking. It’s also the job with the most openings and highest entry-level salary among those in the report.


2. Registered nurse

  • Average salary for entry-level roles: $62,400
  • Open entry-level positions: 9,000

The health care industry as a whole is forecast to be one of the fastest growing parts of the labor market, particularly in areas that require expertise with new technologies and the ability to care for our aging population. MONEY reported last year that jobs for registered nurses are expected to grow about 8% in the next few years.


3. Salesperson

  • Average salary for entry-level roles: $31,100
  • Open entry-level positions: 7,000

Unlike the recent popularity of STEM-focused jobs, a sales job has long been a common first career step, and it’s a position some say can launch you into long-term career success. Somen Mondal, the CEO of Ideal.com, a tool that uses AI to help companies hire, calls it the best first job. And in research for his book The Wealth Elite, historian Rainer Zitelmann found that billionaires and millionaires commonly worked in sales positions before they accumulated their wealth.


4. Teacher

  • Average salary for entry-level roles: $40,000
  • Open entry-level positions: 8,000

Despite the spotlight on the challenging working conditions and below average pay that teachers face, it is still a position that’s attracting a significant share of recent college graduates.


5. Accountant

  • Average salary for entry-level roles: $48,000
  • Open entry-level positions: 2,000

Three of the largest accounting firms—EY, PwC, and Deloitte—rank in the top five U.S. companies that hire the most recent college graduates, according to LinkedIn.


6. Project Manager

  • Average salary for entry-level roles: $57,500
  • Open entry-level positions: 22,000

Project managers work in a variety of industries, and while it’s not a new position by any measure, it has gotten a boost in recent years from the need for project leaders with technical know-how. Indeed.com named commercial project manager as one of the best jobs in 2018.


7. Administrative Assistant

  • Average salary for entry-level roles: $35,400
  • Open entry-level positions: 17,000

This may be a good initial job for recent grads, but it’s likely not a long-term career plan based on workforce trends. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the market for secretaries and administrative assistants will decline by about 5% by 2026.


8. Account Executive

  • Average salary for entry-level roles: $55,000
  • Open entry-level positions: 10,000

Account executives tend to work closely with sales representatives and account managers, two other job titles on this list.


9. Financial Analyst

  • Average salary for entry-level roles: $59,300
  • Open entry-level positions: 4,000

Financial analysts typically major in economics, finance, or statistics, but graduates with backgrounds in accounting and math will also stand out to recruiters from banks and financial firms.


10. Account Manager

  • Average salary for entry-level roles: $52,900
  • Open entry-level positions: 8,000

Like other positions on this list, the job title of account manager likely gets a boost from its presence in a variety of industries. But you’ll find most positions in advertising, marketing, sales, and financial industries.

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Career Magazine: The 10 Most Popular Jobs for Recent College Graduates Right Now — and How Much They Pay
The 10 Most Popular Jobs for Recent College Graduates Right Now — and How Much They Pay
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