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The 20 Most Popular Jobs for College Graduates

The 20 Most Popular Jobs for College Graduates
Credit: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

While most college graduates have grand career aspirations, very few start their journey at the top of corporate ladder.

However, that doesn't mean that your first job out of school can't help jump-start your professional life. To give new grads a better feel for the positions they have the best chances of landing, the online career site Glassdoor assembled a list of the jobs college graduates are most likely to get after leaving school.

"We've analyzed tens of thousands of resumes to identify the most common jobs college students hold after graduating as well as which majors are most associated with them," Glassdoor wrote on its blog. "This list can help inform [you] what your next big step after college should be and what types of positions you should apply for." [Looking to get a big return on your college investment? Here the 50 majors with the best ROI.]

This year's 20 most popular jobs for college graduates, the majors employees in those jobs typically have and their median salary are:

1. Sales associate

  • Top majors: Business, English, political science
  • Median base pay: $38,000

2. Research assistant

  • Top majors: Electrical engineering, computer science and engineering, mechanical engineering
  • Median base pay: $28,855

3. Teaching assistant

  • Top majors: Computer science and engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering
  • Median base pay: $20,000

4. Intern

  • Top majors: Psychology, finance, economics
  • Median base pay: $30,000

5. Administrative assistant

  • Top majors: Business, psychology, communications
  • Median base pay: $40,000

6. Account manager

  • Top majors: Business, marketing, communications
  • Median base pay: $50,000

7. Social media manager

  • Top majors: Communications, English, public relations
  • Median base pay: $44,000

8. Software engineer

  • Top majors: Computer science and engineering, electrical engineering, information technology
  • Median base pay: $90,000

9. Case manager

  • Top majors: Psychology, nursing, criminal justice
  • Median base pay: $37,000

10. Data analyst

  • Top majors: Mathematics, information technology, economics
  • Median base pay: $60,000

11. Engineer

  • Top majors: Mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering
  • Median base pay: $70,500

12. Marketing coordinator

  • Top majors: Marketing, communications, public relations
  • Median base pay: $43,000

13. Web developer

  • Top majors: Computer science and engineering, information technology, philosophy
  • Median base pay: $60,960

14. Financial analyst

  • Top majors: Finance, economics, accounting
  • Median base pay: $64,453

15. Operations manager

  • Top majors: Business, sports management, hospitality management
  • Median base pay: $59,000

16. Lab technician

  • Top majors: Biology, chemistry, biochemistry
  • Median base pay: $39,000

17. Pharmacy technician

  • Top majors: Biology, anthropology, health sciences
  • Median base pay: $32,000

18. Substitute teacher

  • Top majors: Education, liberal arts, music
  • Median base pay: $25,000

19. Customer service representative

  • Top majors: Criminal justice, sociology, history
  • Median base pay: $35,000

20. Tutor

  • Top majors: English, Spanish, physics
  • Median base pay: $36,000

While knowing which jobs to apply for is one hurdle to clear for new graduates, an even tougher challenge is getting hired for one. To help those just starting their professional careers, the staffing firm Robert Half offers several tips:

  • Job requirements: Applicants shouldn't be afraid to apply for a position if they don't meet all the requirements listed in the job description. Robert Half said employers typically write the description for the perfect candidate. With that in mind, if you meet three-quarters of the requirements, you should still fill out an application. If you have solid skills and show you are eager, you very well may land an interview.
  • No experience: While many employers want candidates with experience, many college graduates don't have much of it. Robert Half said while new graduates might not have experience in the position they are applying for, they should highlight the experience they do have. Restaurant and retail jobs, volunteer work, internships and student activities provide great experience and show you are good at balancing schoolwork with other priorities.
  • Where you work: Don't be deterred if you don't get a job with the employer you have your heart set on. Be sure to thank the hiring manager for their consideration and ask them to keep the door open in the future. That being, said, however, Robert Half says graduates should be willing to expand their horizons. Where you get your career started isn't as critical as just getting it started. Remember, this will likely be your first of many jobs in your career.
  • Soft skills: Hiring managers today are focused more than ever on bringing on employees with strong soft skills. Be sure to stress your communication and collaboration skills to show you're a good fit with the team.
  • Perfection: Don't worry if your first job isn't a perfect fit with your major or what you thought it would be. Focus instead on getting solid experience working for a boss you respect and co-workers you can learn from.
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.