Starting Out

By Chandra Orr

May 2, 2008 6 min read


Grads find there are different degrees of success

By Chandra Orr

Copley News Service

There you are with your freshly minted liberal arts degree. You studied hard. You made the dean's list. You even rocked your internship. Now what?

Chances are you're looking for a job with decent pay, great benefits and some staying power. Let the government guide you with its "Occupational Outlook Handbook," published every two years by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The handbook, available online at, covers hundreds of jobs, and ranks each one according to earnings, working conditions and future prospects. It reveals which occupations are most in demand, what each job entails and what training and education you need to get your foot in the door.

Think of it as your handbook for life beyond the bachelor's degree.

"If you're looking for your first job - especially in light of the current economic worries - the Occupational Outlook Handbook is your best choice for complete, up-to-date career information," said professional career coach Joan Schramm, founder of Momentum Coaching and author of the e-book "Loving Your Job, Living Your Life" (, $15).

The handbook includes comprehensive descriptions of nearly 270 major occupations. Each description includes information on the nature of the job, working conditions, necessary training and education, earning potential and the future employment outlook for that position and industry.

"It would be hard to imagine an occupation or field of endeavor that this book doesn't cover," Schramm said. "And these aren't just summaries, either. Each entry takes up 3 to 5 pages."

The handbook also includes current, practical information for a successful job search, including help in career research, making career decisions, writing resumes and preparing for interviews.

"It's an invaluable resource, especially for people new to the work force. It gives you options you may not have thought about," Schramm said.

"Most people tend to be narrow in their focus when it comes to work. Using the Handbook, you can find many different and perhaps unusual areas where you can follow your passion while using that education you worked so hard to get."

Highlights from the handbook include:


If you are looking for a career with plenty of growth potential, look to the service industries. Employment in the service-providing sectors will account for nearly two-thirds of all new jobs in the U.S. over the next eight years:

- The health care industry will account for the most new jobs - almost 3 million by the year 2016. Population growth, advances in medical technologies and an aging baby boomer population will drive employment growth.

- The education industry will add 1.4 million new jobs over the next eight years. Look for job growth at all levels of education, particularly the post-secondary level, as children of the boomer generation continue to reach college age and as more adults pursue continuing education to update their skills.

- Employment in the management, scientific and technical consulting services industry - the nation's fastest growing industry - is expected to increase by nearly 78 percent. Economic growth, the increasing complexity of business and a growing number of new businesses will drive the demand for business advice and consulting services.

- The food service industry will add more than 1 million new jobs by 2016. Increases in population, dual-income families and dining sophistication will contribute to job growth, as will an increasingly diverse population seeking a wider variety of ethnic foods.


There are no guarantees, but choose a career in computers and information technology or the health industry, and your future looks awfully bright.

Some of the fastest growing occupations through 2016 and the requisite education:

- Network systems and data communications analysts (bachelor's degree)

- Personal and home care-aides (on-the-job training)

- Home health-aides (on-the-job training)

- Veterinary technologists and technicians (associate's degree)

- Personal financial advisers (bachelor's degree)

- Medical assistants (on-the-job training)

- Veterinarians (professional degree)

- Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors (bachelor's degree)

- Financial analysts (bachelor's degree)

- Social and human service assistants (on-the-job training)

- Physical therapist assistants (associate's degree)


Industries with highest average weekly earnings include:

- Software publishers

- Computer systems design and related services

- Scientific research and development services

- Utilities

- Aerospace products and parts manufacturing

- Securities, commodities and other investments

Industries with lowest average weekly earnings include:

- Employment services

- Grocery stores

- Arts, entertainment and recreation

- Hotels and other accommodations

- Child day-care services

- Food service and drinking places

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