Preparing for College

Youthful Influences & Your Life's Work

What do you want to be when you grow up? Don't laugh. That can make a lot of difference in your life. In my humble opinion, there are far too many variables in a young person's life related to that question. Of course, we all had our dreams of youth: "I want to be a veterinarian!" "I want to be a baseball player!" "I want to be a fireman!" Obviously, these dreams are inspired by influential local circumstances. The aspiring veterinarian might live on a farm or have a love of horses, dogs, or other pets. The Mickey Mantle wannabe probably sees a lot of games on TV, visits regional stadiums, and follows his or her favorite team. The future fireman likes those big, loud, red trucks and dreams of hanging out with the crew at the fire station. These are all legitimate aspirations.

However, reality has a way of modifying both plans and a life's path. Economics, personal health, and family dynamics all play a part in how a developing young person sees both the world and him/herself. If I may reflect on my own developmental years (okay, I hear you groaning out there!), I see a few major forces at work that forged the path that I took. One was health. I had a rough start coming into this world (so I'm told) and up through second grade, I rather thought of myself as an underdog of sorts. I couldn't participate in a lot of activities that my friends did because of my alleged (as they turned out to be) physical issues. Another issue was financial, although I had no idea about the kinds of money problems my parents were facing. A third was locale. The neighborhood in which I grew up was a lower-middle-class, blue collar community, where Moms stayed home and Dads worked hard all week and then had to catch up on domestic needs on the weekends. Thus, many of my friends had somewhat absentee Dads and developed under the influential eye of their Moms.

Anyway, the point of all this rambling is to segue into yet another survey of the good and bad about jobs. CNN Money has come out with what they call, Jobs with the lowest (and highest) unemployment. What does this mean to you? Well, it could actually mean very little, if you are someone with a long employment history in one of the "highest" unemployment jobs listed. On the other hand, if you're a young person looking for trends in employment, these listings could prove somewhat enlightening. In any event, and for what it's worth, lets take a look at some highlights.

Jobs with the lowest (and highest) unemployment

Want a guaranteed job? Get used to being called doctor. And stay in school.

The top jobs with the lowest unemployment rates for 2012 include fields in areas from health care and finance, to social services and engineering -- and all require a lot of education and training . . .

. . . On the other end of the spectrum are jobs in construction, sales, and transportation. Not only do many of these jobs require less formal training and education, but some - like telemarketing -- tend to have high turnover . . .

Here is some insight from the two lists:

Lowest unemployment:

Astronomers and physicists0.3%
Directors, religious activities and education0.3%
Biomedical engineers0.4%
Judges, magistrates, and other judicial workers0.4%
First-line supervisors of fire fighting and prevention workers0.4%
Petroleum engineers0.6%
First-line supervisors of correctional officers0.6%
Physicians and surgeons0.8%
Information security analysts0.9%
Nurse practitioners0.9%
Septic tank servicers and sewer pipe cleaners*0.9%
Earth drillers, except oil and gas0.9%
Appraisers and assessors of real estate1%
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents*1%
Animal breeders*1%
Training and development managers1.1%
Physician assistants1.2%

Highest unemployment:

Structural iron and steel workers21.9%
Fence erectors23.4%
Gaming cage workers*24.7%
Communications equipment operators, all other*24.8%
Drilling and boring machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic*25.8%
Ambulance drivers and attendants, except emergency medical technicans26%
Reinforcing iron and rebar workers*27%
Furniture finishers*27.7%
Survey researchers*29.5%
Plasterers and stucco masons30.5%
Commercial divers*31.7%
Conveyor operators and tenders*33.6%
Manufactured building and mobile home installers*35.5%
Solar photovoltaic installers*35.7%
Roof bolters, mining*36.6%
Forest and conservation workers*38.4%
Media and communication equipment workers, all other*43.5%

* Sample size under 10,000


So, does this make any difference in your aspirations for a life's work? It really shouldn't, in my view. I wandered from job to job across the decades of my working life after college. Maybe that's the key, as it says under the title of this article: Stay in school. Get the best education you can and then try to determine where your true motivations lie (and maybe that "passion" we hear so much about). Then, as a result of the influences of your formative years, your education, and your self-assessment, maybe you can find happiness as a septic tank cleaner who moonlights as a furniture finisher. Keep those option open!


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.