Consider These Clues When Choosing A Career


In case you missed it, College Confidential has a new look. One of the forthcoming emphases of College Confidential will be career information and guidance. The link between college and careers is obvious but can be complicated, so the career aspect will be a welcome help.

The news about CC and careers started me to thinking about my own college-career path and eventual outcomes. Of course, I'm a crusty veteran of this undertaking, having begun “career wars" the moment I graduated from Penn State, back in 1972.

I won't bore you with with Tales of My Career Quests, but I think it's important to differentiate the way my path wound through various career stops and the way many college graduates today approach work in the “real world."

My experience was primarily a defensive one. That means that I reacted after the fact of this or that job circumstance rather than having the ability to be proactive and choose a course that met my preferences, instead of employers' or those of the general economy.

I graduated from college at age 25, my undergraduate years having been punctuated with three years of military service. I was married and we had just been blessed with our first child, so the pressure was on. Finding my first job out of college required me to defend my position as a father and husband. To be candid, I'll just say that the career placement services of Penn State back in those days were seriously lacking. I was on my own and scored my first hire from a small classified ad buried in the Washington Post classifieds.

The point I'm trying to make here is that those of you who are in college, maybe rising seniors who will be job hunting this coming year, or you high school students who are wondering about which college major will best serve your needs and passions, should look for current data about the nature of jobs to help guide your choices. But where can you find that kind of information?

I'm glad you asked! Just this past week, I received some very interesting information about two aspects of real-world work that you may care to note. The first set of data reports on industries with the highest turnover rates. The second addresses jobs with the longest and shortest work weeks.

Note These Turnover Rate Stats

While various resources speak to such topics as starting salaries, best cities to work and live in, etc., the two areas I'm talking about here are important for somewhat less-obvious reasons. First, turnover is important because it can tell you something about the possible undesirability of a particular field.

For example, have you ever noticed in your local newspaper the relatively high number of job ads for customer service workers, which typically refers to telemarketers? Frequent ads for the same general line of work equates to turnover. Who wants to be taking abuse from the people you interrupt at dinner time when you tell them about a great new way to save money on their phone bills? I don't. Therefore, fields of work with high turnover might possibly require work that tends toward undesirability.

As for the length of the work week, that's a key indicator for those of you who have a strong desire to have a life outside the office. Granted, many newly-minted college graduates are eager to prove themselves indispensable by knocking themselves out day-in and day-out by piling up the hours. That's cool, but how long can they maintain that pace before burning out or -- worse yet -- being taken for granted, by bosses who come to expect such diligence? Linkage between the type of work and the number of hours required to do that work can offer you important insights about certain careers.

With that background, then, let's get to the hard data, from First up is high turnover industries. Here's a brief sample from Zippia statistics, and the supporting text notes:

PSA to all the graduating seniors who are freaking out about taking the perfect job right out of school: This first job you have probably won't be the last job either. At least that's what the stats say. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.2 years as of January 2016. That's the lowest since the stat was 4.1 in January of 2008.

Summary of Findings

- Food services and drinking places (1.8 years) appear to rotate through new employees most consistently

- Food prep and serving related jobs once again are the least steady (1.9 years)

- Employees in the utilities industry (7.4 years) experience the longest tenure in the private sector

- Workers in the public sector tend to stay at their jobs much longer (7.7 years) than the average private sector employee (3.7 years)

- By occupation, management positions have the longest tenure (6.3 years)

- Those with a less than a high school diploma experience the least amount of median tenure with one employer at 4.7 years

- Just above them are bachelor's degree holders at 4.9 years

- Followed by some college, no degree at 5 years ...

Be sure to review the entire page of stats and comments. I'm sure that it's possible to build a successful career from the roots of restaurant or fast food work, but it may not be for everyone.

Check These Work Week Stats

Now, on to Zippia's statistics about the work week. The company's statistics note the following:

Attention workaholics. Boy, do we have the job for you?! Don't worry those of you who like your free time. We have that data, too. Ever wondered what jobs work the longest and shortest hours? Cool, because so did we. We crunched the numbers from the latest American Community Survey PUMS dataset to find out what full-time jobs have the longest and shortest work weeks.

Summary of Findings

- Females are sparse to find in the longest hours category, but compose the majority of each position within the shortest work week list

- The most popular job for females on the list is physical therapist aide

- Women only compose 0.8% of the entire earth driller occupation field

- Three of the top four positions in the longest hours field involve the use of a watercraft

- Derrick, rotary drill and service unit operators, and roustabouts clock the longest weeks at nearly 63 working hours

- Dental hygienists (39.56 hours per week) and dental assistants (39.70) have the shortest working weeks

- Three separate military positions make an appearance on the most hours list ...


Forming my own analysis of these interesting results, it looks like if you want long hours in a stable industry, become a derrick operator for a bank. If you want a short work week with frequent changes of scenery, become a physical therapist for Taco Bell.

(That last paragraph, by the way, was an attempt at humor, poor as it was.)

So, study up. These Zippia findings should be just one part of your research as you put together your college and career plans. For you aspiring college students in high school, thinking back to my disappointment with the career services of my alma mater, perhaps one of the more important stops to make during your college visits (maybe the most important) should be the career services office on campus.

If it appears to be a successful operation, it probably is. Regardless of how it appears, though, check with some current campus seniors, if you can, to get a feel for how well the college places its graduates in jobs. That's the point of college, right? Well, that and football, maybe.

Finally, as I mentioned at the top of my post, keep an eye on College Confidential for lots of great career-related resources in the near future. You'll be glad that you did.