Average Number of Jobs in a Lifetime [2021]: All Statistics

By Chris Kolmar - May. 19, 2021

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After extensive research, our data analysis team concluded:

  • The average person changes jobs 12 times in their lifetime, according to the latest available public survey data (2019).

  • The average employee stays with their employer for 4.1 years as of January 2020.

  • However, this number varies slightly between women (3.9 years) and men (4.3 years).

  • Men hold 12.5 jobs in their lifetime, on average, while women have 12.1 jobs.

Job Tenure Statistics Over Time

The above numbers have changed little since 2018, where men still hold a slightly longer average tenure than women.

  • The median employee tenure was 4.2 years in 2018.

  • Men’s median stay with a company (4.3 years) was unchanged from 2018.

  • Women’s median company tenure was 4.0 years in 2018.

Job Statistics by Age

The older a person is, the longer they will statistically remain with an employer. To outline this, workers aged 45 to 52 held less than half the number of jobs as those between 25 and 34.

Also, whereas younger Baby Boomers will hold an average of 12 jobs from 18 to 52, the vast majority of Millennials expect to change jobs every three years during this same period.

  • The median tenure increases with age, as workers ages 55 to 64 remained with an employer for about 9.9 years.

  • Comparatively, workers ages 25 to 34 years only remained with an employer a median of 2.8 years, more than three times less than older employees.

  • Younger baby boomers (those born between 1957 and 1964) held an average of 12.3 jobs from ages 18 to 52.

  • Estimates show baby boomers experience an average of 5.8 unemployment stints between the ages of 18 to 52.

  • Workers aged 25 to 34 years have an average of 4.5 jobs.

  • Workers aged 35 to 44 years old an average of 2.9 jobs.

  • Workers aged 45 to 52 years have an average of 1.9 jobs.

  • Workers aged 55 to 64 had an average tenure of 9.9 years.

  • Workers aged 25 to 34 years had an average tenure of 2.8 years.

  • 91% of Millennials expect to change jobs every three years.

  • 86% of professionals in their 20s are somewhat interested in changing their careers.

  • 10% of workers aged 55+ were with their employers for 12 months or less.

  • In January 2020, 75% of 16- to 19-year-olds were with their employers for 12 months or less.

Job Statistics by Gender

On average, men hold slightly more jobs in their lifetime than women and tend to remain at their jobs a few months longer. Compared to women, a higher percentage of men also have at least a decade’s tenure with their employer.

  • On average, men hold 12.5 jobs in their lifetime.

  • Women hold an average of 12.1 jobs during their lifetime.

  • The median employee tenure for men in 2020 was 4.3 years, which is the same as in 2018.

  • The median employee tenure for women in 2020 was 3.9 years, slightly down from 4.0 years in 2018.

  • 29 percent of male workers had 10+ years of tenure with their current employer, compared to 27% of women.

Job Statistics by Race

White individuals typically remain at their place of employment longer than Hispanics, Blacks, and Asians. There are also more White employees aged 55+ in the workforce than any of these other races.

  • The BLS reports that 29% of White individuals had been with their current employer for a decade.

  • These numbers drop to 22% for Hispanics, 23% for Blacks, and 26% for Asians.

  • 23% of white workers are aged 55+, compared to Blacks (19%), Asians (19%), and Hispanics (15%).

Job Statistics by Education

The higher an individual’s education, the lower their unemployment stints throughout their career, the longer they tend to remain with an employer, and the less likely they are to cite education as a barrier to changing careers. Furthermore, more than half of people report that they sometimes use what they learned during college in their work.

  • The median tenure for employees with less than a high school diploma was 4.8 years (men) and 4.1 years (women).

  • College graduates had a median tenure of 5.2 years (men) and 4.9 years (women).

  • High school dropouts experience an average of 8.1 unemployment stints from age 18 to age 52.

  • High school graduates experience 6.5 unemployment stints.

  • College graduates experience 4.2 stints.

  • 21% of respondents report they use all of their education (college major) in their job.

  • 53% report they only use their education half or less than half of the time.

  • 15% state they don’t use any of their education in their work.

  • Half of Americans consider educational requirements a barrier to changing careers.

  • 13% of those with at least a bachelor’s degree cite a lack of education as a barrier to pursuing a career change.

  • 27% of those without a bachelor’s degree cite a lack of education as a barrier to pursuing a career change.

Job Statistics by Industry

The leisure and hospitality industry has the lowest median employee tenure while federal employees had the longest, with the state and public sectors falling somewhere in the middle.

Industry Median Tenure (Years)
Leisure and hospitality 2.3
Private sector 3.7
Manufacturing 5.1
State 5.6
Public sector 6.5
Local government 6.6
Federal 8.2

Job Statistics by Occupation

There is a close connection between occupation and average tenure. For example, food service workers have a tenure of less than half that of employees in architecture, engineering, management, and legal occupations.

  • Employees in management and legal occupations stay at their jobs a median of 5.8 years.

  • This is closely followed by architecture and engineering occupations (5.1 years).

  • Educational, training, and library occupations have a median tenure of 5.0 years.

  • Service occupation workers had the lowest median tenure at 2.9 years.

  • Foodservice workers have a median tenure of 1.9 years.

Miscellaneous Lifetime Job Statistics

While many adults want to change careers, most think the risk of starting over is a barrier. Still, nearly a third of employees have completely changed fields since graduating from college, most of whom did so for a salary increase.

  • 54% of workers think their employer is loyal to them.

  • One reason that employees change jobs so often is that most pay raises are about 3%.

  • The average person will have 12 jobs during their lifetime.

  • 32% of people aged 25 to 44 have considered making a career change within the past year.

  • 29% of people have completely changed fields since starting their first job after college.

  • 39% of these respondents indicated they changed jobs for a salary increase.

  • 21% were interested in pursuing a different field or career.

  • 20% wanted to improve their chances of upward mobility.

  • 32% have considered making a career change within the past year.

  • In January 2020, 22% of workers had been with their current employer for one year or less.

  • 58% of U.S. adults want to change careers, but the risk of starting over is a barrier.

  • Of these, 29% say they cannot afford to start over.

  • 24% are unsure which avenue they’ll pursue.

Sources:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Number of Jobs, Labor Market Experience, and Earnings Growth: Results From a National Longitudinal Survey.” Accessed March 30, 2021.

U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Economic News Release – Employee Tenure Summary. Accessed March 30, 2021.

U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. National Longitudinal Surveys Frequently Asked Questions. Accessed March 30, 2021.

Indeed.com. Career Change Report: An Inside Look at Why Workers Shift Gears. Accessed March 30, 2021.

The Balance Careers. How Often Do People Change Jobs During a Lifetime? Accessed March 31, 2021.

EdX Blog. EdX Survey Finds that about 1/3 of Americans ages 25 – 44 have Completely Changed Fields Since Starting their First Job Post-College. Accessed March 31, 2021.

Forbes.com. The Barriers To Success And Upward Mobility For First-Generation Students And How To Fix The Problem. Accessed March 31, 2021.

EAB.com. 90% of Low-Income, First-Generation College Students Don’t Graduate on Time. Accessed March 31, 2021.

U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Employee Tenure Summary. Accessed March 31, 2021.

Forbes. The Future Of Work: Job Hopping Is the ‘New Normal’ for Millennials. Accessed March 21, 2021.

Huffington Post. Poll Finds 80 Percent of Workers In Their 20s Want To Change Careers. Accessed March 21, 2021.

The University of Phoenix. Study Shows Majority of American Workforce Is Interested in Changing Careers but Worry About Risks of Starting Over. Accessed March 31, 2021.

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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