Posted in Blue Collar, Career Planning, College Majors

Occupations: Using the Data

Follow your dream…use college to find yourself….you can decide after you graduate.  Those words of the 1950’s-80’s don’t work today when private college tips the scales at almost  $50,000 per year and roughly 1/2 of all college students EVER finish their degree.  Of those that do, we’re seeing it takes average students SIX years to complete a four-year degree.  The investment of time and money mean missteps can not only cost a lot up front but for some students who do make it out of college with a degree, the jobs on the other side may not be what they had in mind.

Last night I watched a documentary on Amazon Prime called Generation Jobless (2017).  It streams free, so if you have Prime, I highly suggest checking it out.  If you don’t, I think it can be rented for under two bucks.  The documentary reflects the over-educated and under-employed young people of Canada, but you’ll observe the same trends and statistics parallel nearly perfectly to the United States with one minor exception.  In Canada, they don’t track labor and market trends across occupations.  In other words, the college students and their parents are literally guessing what kinds of jobs and opportunities may exist when their teen graduates.  And as you’ll see in the story, many guess wrongly.

In the United States, we don’t have to guess. We have a robust Department of Labor that collects mountains of data on every career, every salary, every type of training and every type of credential.  Furthermore, they carefully track the growth or decline of occupations.  Is that important?  Let me put it this way, if your teen wanted to be a VCR repairman, you’d have no trouble advising them against it- that industry is over!  (A bad example since most of our kids have never even seen a VCR, but you get the idea).  Industries do die, and morph, and get disrupted and reinvent themselves.  This is one area where the government’s huge resources can work to our advantage.  They have the information for us, to inform us, we just have to take advantage of what they report.

You’ve seen me offer up the wisdom of Jeff Selingo who has made his career tracking college and higher education trends, helping teens navigate around the pitfalls that eat college graduates.  You’ve also seen me cheerlead for Mike Rowe who beats into our minds about America’s skills gap – and that it’s ok for smart people to pursue a trade!

So, what is the reason that guys like that beat their drums so loudly?  Because despite the statistics, despite the student loan debt crisis, despite skyrocketing college tuition, and despite the unemployment rates…. people are still telling their teens to follow their hearts.  Before you accuse me of being a dream killer, I don’t believe that it’s an “either-or” proposition.  I don’t believe that people have to be happy OR employed.  Fulfilled OR in a career with projected job growth.  Passionate OR in a job that earns a high salary. Educating their mind OR learning a trade.  Additionally, I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a “perfect” job.  Even if your teen finds their idea of a perfect job, they’ll have to keep learning and growing with their industry too – things always move forward.

I wrote last week about what I think it means to find the intersection, the balance, of using wisdom and following our passions.  If you missed it… I (don’t) Have a Dream (Job)

So, this post is where the rubber meets the road.  This post is about putting data to good use.  Trust me, there is no shortage of encouragement to follow your passion – but as a high school guidance counselor to the most important student on the planet (your children) you owe it to them to teach them how to look ahead.  Down the road beyond the here and now, and into the future.  If they aren’t up for it today, trust me, they will be up for it later.  The only question is if it’s before, or after, they’ve invested time and money into their credentials.
I’m slicing and dicing the data – you can do the same on The Department of Labor’s a-mazing website The United States Department of Education Occupational Outlook Handbook.  Their website is super-user-friendly, and these are just shots of ways that I found the data interesting.  I’m sure you’ll find many other ways to use their data!
I’ve copied and pasted so you can see the chart exactly as it appears on their website, however, doing so sacrafices my ability to re-size their columns or format their fonts.  If you’re viewing this on your phone, you won’t be able to view all of the columns. 

SET 1

This is the ranked list of the BEST PAYING occupations
in industries that are growing MUCH FASTER than average job growth
in occupations that anticipate better than 50,000 job openings 
In my opinion, this is the creme de la creme.  Pay special attention to this set, because these are the college graduates who are walking across the stage and onto a job.  There are more jobs open and in demand than qualified candidates to fill them (as evidenced by the high median pay).  You can click on each occupation, when you land on the page, be sure to notice the additional tabs at the top of each occupation that allow you to explore deeply.
OCCUPATION ENTRY-LEVEL
EDUCATION Help
ON-THE-JOB
TRAINING Help
PROJECTED NUMBER
OF NEW JOBS Help
PROJECTED
GROWTH RATE Help
2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Physical therapists Doctoral or professional degree None 50,000 or more Much faster than average $75,000 or more
Medical and health services managers Bachelor’s degree None 50,000 or more Much faster than average $75,000 or more
Health specialties teachers, postsecondary Doctoral or professional degree None 50,000 or more Much faster than average $75,000 or more
Software developers, applications Bachelor’s degree None 50,000 or more Much faster than average $75,000 or more
Nurse practitioners Master’s degree None 50,000 or more Much faster than average $75,000 or more
Financial managers Bachelor’s degree None 50,000 or more Much faster than average $75,000 or more

 

SET 2

This is the ranked list of  industries that are growing FASTER than average 
in occupations that require an Associate Degree.
This is an exciting set because many of you reading this post already have students taking community college courses through dual enrollment.  Even if you don’t, these programs are abundant and offered at community colleges all over the country.  I want to draw your attention to the fact that some of these occupations will require state licensure, and that varies by state, so be sure you take the time to investigate the licensure process as you evaluate educational programs.  In addition, there are a number of for-profit career schools that offer degrees in some of these occupations.  You’ll want to use caution that they meet licensure and accreditation as well.  A good rule of thumb:  all community colleges in the United States are regionally accredited, so that’s a really great place to start.
OCCUPATION ENTRY-LEVEL
EDUCATION Help
ON-THE-JOB
TRAINING Help
PROJECTED NUMBER
OF NEW JOBS Help
PROJECTED
GROWTH RATE Help
2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Medical and clinical laboratory technicians Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Radiologic technologists Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Faster than average $55,000 to $74,999
Web developers Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Faster than average $55,000 to $74,999
Veterinary technologists and technicians Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Much faster than average $25,000 to $34,999
Paralegals and legal assistants Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Much faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Physical therapist assistants Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Much faster than average $55,000 to $74,999
Respiratory therapists Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Much faster than average $55,000 to $74,999
Occupational therapy assistants Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Much faster than average $55,000 to $74,999
Diagnostic medical sonographers Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Much faster than average $55,000 to $74,999
Dental hygienists Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Much faster than average $55,000 to $74,999

SET 3

These occupations require a degree but are in decline.  That is to say, your teen may not find employment at all, even with a degree from a good school, good grades, and a good internship.  They are sorted by degree type.  It’s noteworthy that any occupation for which a Master’s or Doctorate degree is required, there are no declining industries.  *required means you need it to practice, not that you’ve added it to boost your resume.

OCCUPATION ENTRY-LEVEL
EDUCATION Help
ON-THE-JOB
TRAINING Help
PROJECTED NUMBER
OF NEW JOBS Help
PROJECTED
GROWTH RATE Help
2016 MEDIAN PAY Help

Bachelor’s Degrees

Radio and television announcers Bachelor’s degree None Declining Decline $25,000 to $34,999
Reporters and correspondents Bachelor’s degree None Declining Decline $35,000 to $54,999
Adult basic and secondary education and literacy teachers and instructors Bachelor’s degree None Declining Decline $35,000 to $54,999
Wholesale and retail buyers, except farm products Bachelor’s degree Moderate-term on-the-job training Declining Decline $35,000 to $54,999
Buyers and purchasing agents, farm products Bachelor’s degree Moderate-term on-the-job training Declining Decline $55,000 to $74,999
Labor relations specialists Bachelor’s degree None Declining Decline $55,000 to $74,999
Purchasing agents, except wholesale, retail, and farm products Bachelor’s degree Moderate-term on-the-job training Declining Decline $55,000 to $74,999
Insurance underwriters Bachelor’s degree Moderate-term on-the-job training Declining Decline $55,000 to $74,999
Computer programmers Bachelor’s degree None Declining Decline $75,000 or more
Chief executives Bachelor’s degree None Declining Decline $75,000 or more

Associate Degrees

Broadcast technicians Associate’s degree Short-term on-the-job training Declining Decline $35,000 to $54,999
Desktop publishers Associate’s degree Short-term on-the-job training Declining Decline $35,000 to $54,999
Human resources assistants, except payroll and timekeeping Associate’s degree None Declining Decline $35,000 to $54,999
Respiratory therapy technicians Associate’s degree None Declining Decline $35,000 to $54,999

SET 4

This is the apprenticeship set.  The apprenticeship programs in this set are those that are growing as fast or faster than average.   It’s worth pointing out that all of these apprenticeships report minimum wages over $35,000 – but elevator repairmen rise to the top (haha, see what I did there?) at over $75,000 median salary!

OCCUPATION ENTRY-LEVEL
EDUCATION Help
ON-THE-JOB
TRAINING Help
PROJECTED NUMBER
OF NEW JOBS Help
PROJECTED
GROWTH RATE Help
2016 MEDIAN PAY
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 50,000 or more Much faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Brickmasons and blockmasons High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 5,000 to 9,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Elevator installers and repairers High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 1,000 to 4,999 Faster than average $75,000 or more
Glaziers High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 5,000 to 9,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Insulation workers, mechanical High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 1,000 to 4,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Millwrights High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 1,000 to 4,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Reinforcing iron and rebar workers High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 1,000 to 4,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Stonemasons High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 1,000 to 4,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Structural iron and steel workers High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 5,000 to 9,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Terrazzo workers and finishers High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 0 to 999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999

SET 5

This set represents the highest educational requirement (doctorate or master’s degree) for entry-level, crossed against the poorest future predictions of employment rate.  These jobs all pay well, and some industries are beginning to grow, but in this niche, there are fewer than 1,000 open jobs predicted across the entire country.  This could mean moving across just to find an open position. Sorted by degree type.

OCCUPATION ENTRY-LEVEL
EDUCATION Help
ON-THE-JOB
TRAINING Help
PROJECTED NUMBER
OF NEW JOBS Help
PROJECTED
GROWTH RATE Help
2016 MEDIAN PAY Help

Doctorate Degree

Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers Doctoral or professional degree Short-term on-the-job training 0 to 999 Slower than average $75,000 or more
Agricultural sciences teachers, postsecondary Doctoral or professional degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $75,000 or more
Forestry and conservation science teachers, postsecondary Doctoral or professional degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $75,000 or more
Geography teachers, postsecondary Doctoral or professional degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $75,000 or more
Judicial law clerks Doctoral or professional degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $35,000 to $54,999
Library science teachers, postsecondary Doctoral or professional degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $55,000 to $74,999

Master’s Degree

Sociologists Master’s degree None 0 to 999 Little or no change $75,000 or more
Survey researchers Master’s degree None 0 to 999 Little or no change $35,000 to $54,999
Anthropologists and archeologists Master’s degree None 0 to 999 Slower than average $55,000 to $74,999
Political scientists Master’s degree None 0 to 999 Slower than average $75,000 or more
Epidemiologists Master’s degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $55,000 to $74,999
Farm and home management advisors Master’s degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $35,000 to $54,999
Historians Master’s degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $55,000 to $74,999
Home economics teachers, postsecondary Master’s degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $55,000 to $74,999
Industrial-organizational psychologists Master’s degree Internship/residency 0 to 999 As fast as average $75,000 or more

SET 6

You decide!  Do you have a set you’d like me to compile using the data in a different way?  Leave a comment below and I’ll add your request to the page.

Posted in Blue Collar, High School, working

Blue Collar Homeschool

Today’s post features a homeschooling site (and Facebook group) run by a friend of mine and a long time friend to Homeschooling for College Credit- Cindy LaJoy.  Her page is called Blue Collar Homeschool, and I’m so excited to share it with all of you.

But wait, doesn’t the notion of “blue collar” conflict with earning college credit?  Heck no! In fact, injecting college credit into a homeschool program doesn’t mean you only focus on a certain type of education.  One thing I’ve learned by meeting thousands of parents my Facebook page is that trying to “define” what successful homeschooling looks like is a fool’s errand.

First, let me introduce you to Cindy and her homeschool family:

“We are “Team LaJoy”!  We believe that the family that works together AND plays together, stays together!  All of our kids have experienced public education, either in the United States or in orphanage schools overseas.  All love learning at home, and the cindyability to work at their own pace.  In our homeschool we have done a wide variety of experiential and traditional learning, with our kids doing such things as studying interior design, purchasing and refurbishing a home that was bank owned, learning about Profit and Loss statements as they help with our businesses, traveling the Lewis and Clark trail, building sheds, pottery, flying planes, and volunteering at the animal shelter, the library, the food bank, the homeless shelter and our local nursing home.  We have been out in the world, as well as dedicated to class around our kitchen table! “

Cindy is one of those fantastically enthusiastic people with a lot of passion.  When we first spoke, she told me her children had challenges.  The topic of our conversation wasn’t homeschooling,  but I underestimated HER challenges.  Her children include a mix of Dysgraphia, English as a Second Language, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, Gifted and Talented, suspected Dyscalculia, Sensory Processing Disorder, Developmental Delay, Executive Function Disorders, and Speech Impairments.

Moving into high school with our kids and thinking about their futures, it was easy to see that there was an underserved group, and that was families like us…families who had kids not destined for college, who had access to few resources that truly “fit” their child’s needs.  Few homeschool online groups speak to those parents of kids whose career aspirations do not include a degree, leaving us feeling inadequately equipped, and as if we are somehow underachievers.   I began to develop a passion for helping our kids see the wide variety of career possibilities, not at the sake of eliminating college, but for seeing there were even more choices.”

If I can take a moment to distract you from Cindy’s specific story, I want to caution you against making the mistake that professional guidance counselors make all the time. They “track” students into paths based on early test scores and grades.  In my own past, I was “guided” into food service from the moment I set foot in high school. My test scores were average, clearly not “college material.”  After learning about Advanced Placement (AP) I had to get special permission to take an AP course in 10th grade (which required my parent’s signature to go against professional advice).   My point is that it’s easy to default into the old idea that underachievers go to vocational school and “smart” kids go to college.  We have an entire population of kids with part of a college degree who are unemployable because they can read Latin but can’t put together an Ikea bookshelf.

We need “smart” kids in trades too!

If you’ve never heard of Mike Rowe, he’s the champion of blue collar.  His own liberal arts education (BA in Communications from Towson University) and career as an opera singer make him an unlikely advocate for the trades, but you might know him better as the host of Dirty Jobs.

My ALL TIME FAVORITE youtube interview is Dirty Job’s Mike Rowe on the High Cost of College (full interview below).  Mike Rowe explains how he thinks we’ve gotten off course by encouraging every child to attend a 4-year college.

 “if we’re lending money that we don’t have, to kids who really have no hope of paying it back, in order to train them for jobs that clearly don’t exist, I might suggest that we’ve gone around the bend a little bit.”  -Mike Rowe


If you want to incorporate some blue-collar classes into your curriculum, or maybe even help your teen select a career in one of the trades, I’m going to list a combination of resources that Cindy pulled together as well as a few of my own.  (and some of them are even for college credit!)

Apprenticeship in the USA

Considering a Gap Year? List of resources

High School Curriculum – electives

Research any career using REAL DATA

Vocational Schools and Training Resources

Pages on Homeschooling for College Credit you might also like:

HELP! My high school graduate doesn’t want to go to college.

Say YES to Home Economics

Working During College: Yes or No?

Trending: Non-College Learning

Math Success 4 Math Averse