The 10 Best Entry-Level Jobs for Recent College Graduates

By Chris Kolmar
Nov. 7, 2016

Find a Job You Really Want In

If you’ve just graduated from college, now’s about the time you’re probably wondering — what next?

For most, the answer’s simple: find a job. And for many of you, the answer is even simpler: find any job. Because we’ve all heard the horror stories of graduating and the pickings being slim, we’ve decided to go ahead and save you some trouble.

After some research and number crunching, we’ve determined the 10 best jobs for recent college grads in the USA. Here they are:

  1. Cartographers and Photogrammetrists
  2. Computer Systems Analysts
  3. Management Analysts
  4. Web Developers
  5. Film and Video Editors
  6. Sales Engineers
  7. Technical Writers
  8. Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators
  9. Multimedia Artists and Animators
  10. Credit Counselors

We know what you’re thinking — cartographers? Really?

You’ll want to keep reading to find out just how we came up with this list and why each made the cut. Yes, even cartographers.

What does “entry-level” really mean?

If there’s one term that tends to catch the eye of first-time-job-seekers, it’s “entry-level.” However, there are a few misconceptions floating around the internet about what exactly this term represents.

While “entry-level” has traditionally been thought to mean that no experience whatsoever is required for the position, in practice, there are often numerous prerequisites. These can include anything from knowledge of certain programs, a particular college major and GPA, or even a small amount of past job experience.

This can come as a shock to many young job hunters who might otherwise assume that a position listed as entry-level would (or at the very least, should) have no prerequisites at all.

This is a common misconception. In fact, Merriam Webster defines entry-level as “of or being at the lowest level of a hierarchy.” At its core, there’s no reason to expect that an entry-level position won’t require a certain amount of knowledge or experience — only that an entry-level job will be at the very bottom rung of a corporate ladder.

All that this means is that an entry-level job may or may not be something that a young, inexperienced job seeker is qualified for, depending on how specialized their career is or how small the company is that they are applying to.

Unfortunately, not all of these bottom-rung jobs are created equally.

How we determined the best entry-level jobs in the USA

We’ve been talking to a lot of recent college graduates lately, so we have a pretty good sense of what they want in their first job. Their list normally goes a little something like this:

  1. ANY JOB!! (Availability of jobs)
  2. Location
  3. Pay
  4. Potential for growth
  5. Work life balance

Luckily, there’s data available from various sources for each of the items on this list. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides data on pay by location, each state’s Department of Labor compiles job growth statistics, and ONet Online, another government source, has data on job requirements.

We combined data from each of these sources to produce a master database that contains information for every profession. Specifically, we looked at the following criteria:

  • Location quotient: a measure of how common a job is in a given state
  • Only for jobs in the USA that require a college degree
  • Average annual entry level salary
  • Projected growth as an industry over the next 10 years

By limiting the dataset to only those jobs that require a Bachelor’s Degree, we were left with 58 jobs to rank.

We then ranked each job on each criteria from 1 to 58, with 1 being the best.

Next, we took the average of each job’s rankings to create a “Job Score”.

Finally, we ranked every job’s “Job Score” from 1 to 58 with 1, again, being the best.

Below is a more detailed look at the best jobs for recent college graduates in the country.

(Job descriptions quoted from Bureau of Labor Statistics official website).

1. Cartographers and Photogrammetrists

There’s a lot of world out there — somebody’s got to draw it. Accurately, if possible. $43,750 is not bad as far as starting salaries go, but the real benefit to cartography is in learning the names of all the oceans and the lands of Earth, placing their power exclusively under your command.

Avg. Entry Salary: $43,750
BLS Job Description: “Cartographers and photogrammetrists collect, measure, and interpret geographic information in order to create and update maps and charts for regional planning, education, emergency response, and other purposes.”

2. Computer Systems Analysts

Where the glitz and glamour of Information Technology meets the occupational whirlwind that is systems analysis. At over $57 thousand a year, this is the second highest paying job in our top ten list. Additionally, it’s ranked it’s ranked 19th in Making Me Wonder Why I Majored in English.

Avg. Entry Salary: $57,180
BLS Job Description: “Computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and procedures and design information systems solutions to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively. They bring business and information technology (IT) together by understanding the needs and limitations of both.”

3. Management Analysts

Management analysts are the kind of people who write “detail-oriented” on literally everything attached to their name, including Tinder profiles. $51,440 puts this just on the high side of our top ten list, but they’re also the 12th most widely available and the 13th fastest growing.

Avg. Entry Salary: $51,440
BLS Job Description: “Management analysts, often called management consultants, propose ways to improve an organization’s efficiency. They advise managers on how to make organizations more profitable through reduced costs and increased revenues.”

4. Web Developers

Web development is a fairly encompassing position — it can include working alongside writers and graphic designers while leaving you responsible for the more technical aspects of a website, or you might be responsible for all of the above. These are the rock-stars of the internet, or they would be, if rock-stars weren’t also on the internet.

Avg. Entry Salary: $37,060
BLS Job Description: “Web developers design and create websites. They are responsible for the look of the site. They are also responsible for the site’s technical aspects, such as its performance and capacity, which are measures of a website’s speed and how much traffic the site can handle. In addition, web developers may create content for the site.”

5. Film and Video Editors

Admittedly, the pay for this one isn’t going to blow your hair back — a little over $33,000 — but Film and Video Editors are seeing almost 20% growth. It’s the most popular job in the country for recent grads and the 7th fastest growing, ensuring that one friend of yours will keep sending you links to his YouTube vlog for many years to come.

Avg. Entry Salary: $33,040
BLS Job Description: “Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience.”

6. Sales Engineers

This job requires you to both be good at talking to people and possess highly specific technical knowledge, which, as we all know, are two traits that pretty much go hand-in-hand. One of the more lucrative gigs on this list, if you happen to have those qualities.

Avg. Entry Salary: $63,370
BLS Job Description: “Sales engineers sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses. They must have extensive knowledge of the products’ parts and functions and must understand the scientific processes that make these products work.”

7. Technical Writers

Also known as “technically” writers, Technical Writers are a highly in-demand and talented group that I should not have made fun of just now, and I’m very sorry. If it’s any consolation to any offended Technical Writers out there, you probably make more than I do, as the entry wage is a little over $50 thousand.

Avg. Entry Salary: $50,620
BLS Job Description: “Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information through an organization’s communications channels.”

8. Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators

Arbitration requires a lot of empathy, a lot of patience, and the ability to be nice to people who are yelling at each other (and possibly you) without also starting to yell. Throw in some solid legal expertise, and you might find yourself with a starting salary of over $42,000 in a position with a projected 10% growth over the next ten years.

Avg. Entry Salary: $42,930
BLS Job Description: “Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators facilitate negotiation and dialogue between disputing parties to help resolve conflicts outside of the court system.”

9. Multimedia Artists and Animators

One of the more common jobs after college graduation, Multimedia Artists and Animators ranks 3rd for location availability. Which I could have told you without all this data, given that back in college I couldn’t throw a cat without hitting a Graphic Design major. And yeah, their department eventually stopped letting me bring cats into the building, but the point is that Multimedia Artists are everywhere and being hit with cats has done little (if nothing) to deter them.

Unfortunately, this job has some of the slowest growth (ranking 32nd here), and has a starting pay of only $42,470.

Avg. Entry Salary: $42,270
BLS Job Description: “Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.”

10. Credit Counselors

They don’t make a lot — a little under $34 thousand a year — but thanks to the staggering amount of debt that honest folks like us are racking up day by day, Credit Counselors have job security like no other. They’ll always be here, just like credit cards, America, my own student loan debt, bad drivers, and (for whatever reason) the Tea Party.

Avg. Entry Salary: $33,870
BLS Job Description: “Advise and educate individuals or organizations on acquiring and managing debt. May provide guidance in determining the best type of loan and explaining loan requirements or restrictions. May help develop debt management plans, advise on credit issues, or provide budget, mortgage, and bankruptcy counseling.”

One Job Please

Just graduating from college can be a scary time–but don’t forget, it’s also exciting. You have so many options, so many jobs to pick (or not pick! Go travel!), and so many choices! The world is your oyster, and with this list, so is the job market.

Detailed List Of The Best Entry Level Jobs In America For Recent College Grads

Rank Job Growth % Entry Wage Jobs in 2024
1 Cartographers and Photogrammetrists 29.27% $43,750 15,900
2 Computer Systems Analysts 20.87% $57,180 686,300
3 Management Analysts 13.64% $51,440 861,400
4 Web Developers 26.60% $37,060 188,000
5.5 Film and Video Editors 17.61% $33,040 39,400
5.5 Sales Engineers 7.15% $63,370 74,900
7 Technical Writers 10.19% $50,620 57,300
8 Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators 9.52% $42,930 9,200
9 Multimedia Artists and Animators 6.06% $42,270 68,300
10 Credit Counselors 15.34% $33,870 37,600
11 Electronics Engineers, Except Computer -1.38% $70,500 135,500
12 Audio-Visual and Multimedia Collections Specialists 8.00% $32,130 10,800
13 Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians 3.51% $48,670 11,800
14 Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products 6.87% $40,810 371,700
15 Network and Computer Systems Administrators 7.89% $50,860 412,800
16.5 Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists 14.02% $52,640 187,900
16.5 Hearing Aid Specialists 27.12% $32,160 7,500
18 Database Administrators 11.17% $49,950 133,400
19 Environmental Engineering Technicians 9.68% $36,100 20,400
20 Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians 17.75% $29,040 192,400
21 Psychiatric Technicians 5.15% $35,560 71,400
22 Cost Estimators 8.81% $34,850 232,300
23 Computer Network Support Specialists 7.51% $43,800 194,600
24 Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special Education 5.96% $40,140 168,900
25 Recreation Workers 10.28% $19,290 418,300
26 Social and Human Service Assistants 11.43% $22,110 430,800
27 Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners 9.90% $28,170 109,900
28 Computer Programmers -8.03% $46,510 302,200
29.5 Environmental Science and Protection Technicians, Including Health 9.39% $26,670 39,600
29.5 Community Health Workers 14.92% $25,420 62,400
31.5 Commercial and Industrial Designers 2.08% $39,360 39,200
31.5 Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes 2.54% $24,740 20,200
33 Credit Analysts 6.05% $41,700 73,600
34 Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors 22.44% $23,700 116,200
35 Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents -6.19% $36,650 63,700
36 Industrial Engineers .87% $62,960 243,200
37 Self-Enrichment Education Teachers 15.34% $20,520 402,200
38 Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers 1.06% $64,440 76,500
39 Forest and Conservation Workers 4.29% $18,870 14,600
40 Interior Designers 3.74% $31,810 61,100
41.5 Buyers and Purchasing Agents, Farm Products 4.65% $30,420 13,500
41.5 Human Resources Specialists 4.54% $39,050 503,900
43 Paralegals and Legal Assistants 7.62% $31,770 300,800
44 Coaches and Scouts 5.91% $20,380 265,400
45.5 Directors, Religious Activities and Education 4.25% $19,730 137,500
45.5 Fish and Game Wardens 1.61% $56,330 6,300
48 Occupational Health and Safety Technicians 9.27% $32,320 16,500
48 Surveyors -2.03% $52,480 43,400
48 Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates .67% $161,730 29,900
50 Rehabilitation Counselors 8.99% $20,160 130,900
51 Insurance Sales Agents 9.31% $27,970 509,500
52 Traffic Technicians 5.88% $39,620 7,200
53.5 Residential Advisors 13.69% $19,990 117,900
53.5 Advertising Sales Agents -2.68% $28,350 163,400
55.5 Clergy 5.65% $22,170 258,000
55.5 Airfield Operations Specialists 4.17% $30,950 7,500
57 Statistical Assistants -10.84% $35,080 14,800
58 Broadcast News Analysts -11.76% $21,120 4,500

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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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Topics: Rankings