13 High-Growth Jobs for Recent Graduates That Pay Well Too

Jobs for Recent College GraduatesFinding jobs, for recent graduates in particular, can be a stressful task. But what if it didn't have to be that way? You could reduce the worry and anxiety that sometimes comes with graduating by preparing for a career that is expecting high-growth in the coming years. "Why does that matter?" you might ask. Because in fast-growing vocational fields, employers are looking for skilled professionals just like you.

If you are here conducting your research before choosing your program, then you are ahead of the game. You can take a look at some of the highest-growth career paths to help guide your decision-making. And if you are a recent college graduate, jobs in fast-growing sectors likely exist for you too. You may hold a certificate, diploma, or degree that can help lead you right into an excellent job. Or with a small amount of bridging, you could be ready to pursue the position you desire.

The reality is that many of today's top positions require specialized skills, so it is ideal to choose a program that most closely matches your chosen vocational field. But if you are considering a career that differs from what you have already trained for, all may not be lost. Often, you will have learned transferable skills and may even have credits that could count toward a different program. So you might not be that far off from getting the job you want.

Some of the best jobs for college grads are those that offer growth potential and a good salary. With that in mind, we have devised a list of 13 occupations that are ordered by projected job growth and cover industries ranging from business and technology to health care and beauty to media arts and skilled trades. So take a moment to explore the possibilities; you may come across a perfect fit that you never even considered before now!

(Note that the job growth data is based on projections for the 2014-to-2024 period.* And the yearly salary figures are derived from May 2015 data.**)

1. Commercial Diver

Jobs for Recent College GraduatesImagine a job that not only enables you to travel around the globe, but also gives you glimpses into corners of the world that most people will never see. That's the adventure-filled job of a commercial diver. And surprisingly, it does not take a large time commitment to start preparing for a commercial diving career.

Many commercial diver programs can be completed in as little as six months. And if you have already trained in areas like scuba diving or welding, it is possible that some of your education could be transferable. Most commercial divers are expected to have experience in both topside and underwater welding, as well as underwater inspection, installation, and salvage and recovery.

It is important to note that not all commercial diving careers are the same. Actually, there are quite a few specialties within the sector. The more common specializations include:

  • Offshore diving—Join oil and gas companies that have offshore operations and spend a great deal of time under water exploring, building new structures, and maintaining existing sites.
  • Onshore diving—Work for engineering companies to assist with surveying and building structures such as bridges and dams. Onshore divers can also find employment at docks and boatyards, as well as with pipeline companies.
  • HAZMAT diving—Work for a variety of organizations and engage in activities like wreckage recovery, underwater pipeline maintenance and repair, and sewer line welding. HAZMAT divers are also the people who are responsible for dealing with major disasters like nuclear plant meltdowns.
  • Military & police diving—Gain employment with government organizations and, depending on the department, you could be involved in anything from defusing underwater bombs to searching for underwater evidence related to criminal investigations.
  • Naval diving—Sign on with the Navy and find yourself inspecting and cleaning vessels. You could also play a role with examining and recovering underwater wreckage.

Other career tracks that you could pursue within the diving sector include occupations like scuba diving instructor, diving equipment repair technician, and underwater photographer/videographer. And due to the wide variety of options in the industry, there are a large amount of certification opportunities available. To get an idea of the variability, below are some of the organizations that offer certifications:

  • American Petroleum Institute
  • American Welding Society
  • Association of Commercial Diving Educators
  • Association of Diving Contractors International
  • Diver Certification Board of Canada
  • National Academy of Scuba Educators
  • National Board of Diving & Hyperbaric Medical Technology
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research
  • National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians

With a high-rate of growth projected, the commercial diving industry may provide numerous potential jobs for recent college grads. Commercial diving is a career path that can offer great earning and growth potential, and many of the programs can be completed in less than a year.

  • Entry-level education—Certificate
  • Estimated job growth—36 percent; 1,600 additional new jobs
  • Average annual salary—$54,640
  • Top-end annual salary—$88,470 and higher

2. Personal Financial Advisor

Jobs for Recent College GraduatesA career in personal financial advising could be an excellent option if you hold a degree in finance, accounting, business, economics, or another related field. By opting for an occupation in which you assist individuals with their financial planning, you could be opening yourself up to some great opportunities for future growth and earnings. It is projected that an aging population, combined with longer life expectancies, will create a strong demand for professionals who are well-versed in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, taxes, insurance, and other personal finance matters.

It is imperative that you possess the ability to establish trusting relationships and be able to communicate in terms that your clients will understand. You will likely work with them to help them make short- and long-term financial decisions based on several factors. You will consider your clients' current financial situations and desired investment-risk levels, as well as market and regulatory conditions. You may be helping your clients plan for just about anything from sending a child to college to buying a home to retiring.

So if you are working toward, or already hold a degree in, a finance- or other business-related area, you may want to consider becoming a personal financial advisor. It is a vocational field expected to offer a large number of jobs in the coming years.

  • Entry-level education—Bachelor's degree
  • Estimated job growth—30 percent; 73,900 additional new jobs
  • Average annual salary—$118,050
  • Top-end annual salary—$187,200 and higher

3. Web Designer

Jobs for Recent College GraduatesWould you like to put your artistic and technical skills to good use? Then consider pursuing a career as a web designer. It could be an excellent job option if you have an education in web design, graphic design, or a related media arts discipline. By already having an education in a similar field, you may be able to transfer credits in order to obtain essential web design training in a short timeframe.

Many people do not realize that designing web pages is a lot more complex than it sounds. Creating websites involves a delicate balance between functionality and visual aesthetics. You have to consider aspects like the goals of the business, target market, and needs of the end-users when you are deciding on the appropriate colors, fonts, and images, as well as the layout and structure of the site.

If you are considering this career field, keep in mind that your position may require you to possess expertise in some or all of the following areas:

  • Animated graphics
  • Database administration
  • Digital illustration and imaging
  • Graphic design
  • Marketing
  • Web applications and programming

The ongoing growth of digital media and online business is driving the demand for professional web designers, which contributes to it being one of the best jobs for college graduates.

  • Entry-level education—Associate's or bachelor's degree
  • Estimated job growth—27 percent; 39,500 additional new jobs
  • Average annual salary—$70,660
  • Top-end annual salary—$116,620 and higher

4. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Jobs for Recent College GraduatesAlthough diagnostic medical sonography is a specific field of study, most programs do not require a large time commitment. They can typically be completed in less than two years. And if you already have an education in related areas of health care or biology, you may be able to complete the training even sooner.

Diagnostic medical sonographers, or ultrasound technicians, take on a vital role within modern medicine. Ultrasounds have been in use since the 1950s and are considered to have little to no risk associated with them. For this reason, ultrasound has become a preferred option over radiologic procedures.

Ultrasound techs use sophisticated medical imaging technology that provides a window into a patient's body. Although the procedures are commonly associated with pregnancy, they actually have many other uses. Medical sonography is an essential tool used for diagnosing and treating conditions related to the abdomen, chest, pelvis, and cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems. Your job as a tech is to perform Doppler and other sonographic procedures in order to take pictures and record data for review by physicians.

Diagnostic medical sonographers are mainly employed in hospitals, but there could also be entry-level jobs for college graduates available within other medical establishments that offer imaging services. You may even be able to enhance your career prospects by obtaining additional certification through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS).

  • Entry-level education—Associate's degree
  • Estimated job growth—26 percent; 16,000 additional new jobs
  • Average annual salary—$70,880
  • Top-end annual salary—$97,390 and higher

5. Phlebotomist

Jobs for Recent College GraduatesIf you've ever had your blood drawn, then you've witnessed the work of a phlebotomist. You could easily prepare for this critical role within medical labs through phlebotomy training that can typically be completed in a year or less. And if you already possess an education in medical sciences, you may be able to complete your training in a matter of months.

In your role as a phlebotomist, you will collect blood samples for medical tests, transfusions, donations, or research. You will need to carefully carry out blood-drawing techniques, have a good rapport with patients, and remain organized and detail-oriented in order to accurately record data and manage patient files. After all, it takes a special type of person to stay collected under pressure while ensuring that procedures are pain-free, especially for those patients who are scared of needles.

The increased demand for phlebotomists is a result of two factors: The introduction of the Affordable Care Act has resulted in more people having health insurance, and the American population is aging. This has led to more requests for medical tests. And that's not to mention the fact that medical advancements may also contribute to the development of new lab tests.

So with just a small amount of career training, you could soon be working as a phlebotomist in a hospital, blood bank, clinic, or other medical organization that is equipped with lab facilities. And you may even want to consider furthering your credentials by becoming a National Certified Phlebotomy Technician (NCPT) through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), which can help you pursue some of the best jobs for college graduates in the field of phlebotomy.

  • Entry-level education—Certificate or diploma
  • Estimated job growth—25 percent; 28,100 additional new jobs
  • Average annual salary—$32,770
  • Top-end annual salary—$45,190 and higher

6. Cardiovascular Technologist

Jobs for Recent College GraduatesCardiovascular technology is a high-growth career field because heart disease is prevalent in the United States. From 2000 to 2010, cardiovascular procedures and operations increased by 28 percent in the U.S. And as of 2014, it was estimated that 25 percent of the American population had some form of cardiovascular disease.*** Almost half of the country's population is considered at risk for heart disease, and approximately 735,000 Americans have a heart attack every year. In fact, heart disease is responsible for one in every four deaths in the U.S.****

So you can see why cardiovascular technologists have a critical role in the medical system. They capture images and conduct tests that assist physicians with diagnosing and treating heart conditions and diseases. Cardiovascular technicians use ultrasound imaging equipment to perform non-invasive procedures that allow doctors to see inside a patient's body. Performing electrocardiograms (EKGs), stress tests, and Holter monitoring can also be the responsibility of a cardiovascular technologist.

Entering this field may not be as difficult as you initially think. If you are starting out fresh, you could complete a program within one to two years. And if you already have an education in an area related to anatomy, physiology, and/or pathology, you may be able to dramatically reduce your training time.

Once you are ready to pursue cardiovascular technology jobs, you will want to start your search with hospitals and other medical settings where EKGs and sonography services are offered. And you may find even greater opportunities if you seek further certification through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) or Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI).

  • Entry-level education—Associate's degree
  • Estimated job growth—22 percent; 11,500 additional new jobs
  • Average annual salary—$56,100
  • Top-end annual salary—$87,170 and higher

7. Market Research Analyst

Jobs for Recent College GraduatesThe success of a business rides on its ability to sell its products and services. This is why the job of a market research analyst is so important. Professionals with this occupation conduct extensive research that helps guide their companies' development of products and services, as well as marketing decisions. And with a degree in marketing or other business-related area of study, you could opt to join this fascinating field.

A business looks to a market research analyst in order to gain insight into what consumers want and need, how much they are willing to spend, and what products or services are already being offered in the marketplace. Along with assessing competitors and staying current on emerging trends, market research analysts also review the successes and failures of their companies' current marketing and sales strategies.

In addition to solid marketing and business skills, it is likely that you'll need to be able to communicate effectively, use a variety of computer software programs, and turn your research into well-written reports and appealing visual presentations. As a person who possesses these abilities and is a recent college graduate, jobs could be found with organizations of all sizes, including large marketing firms that manage many accounts.

  • Entry-level education—Associate's or bachelor's degree
  • Estimated job growth—19 percent; 92,300 additional new jobs
  • Average annual salary—$70,030
  • Top-end annual salary—$120,460 and higher

8. Software Developer

Jobs for Recent College GraduatesConsidering that software is required to operate your computer, smartphone, tablet, and many other electronic devices, it is no wonder that software developers are considered essential in the modern high-tech world. They keep organizations current and in line with the latest technology.

Software developers are artistic, flexible, and innovative problem-solvers who help businesses achieve their goals, increase efficiencies, and boost bottom lines. Although the time needed to complete your training can range from two to four years, it can be a worthwhile commitment. And if you have already completed a tech-related program, you may be able prepare to become a software developer even sooner.

It is likely that you will need to possess expertise in a wide range of areas, including programming languages like Java and C#, operating systems, mobile application development, database management, and cloud and Internet computing. And you could choose to showcase your skills even further by obtaining certifications such as:

  • Adobe Certified Expert (ACE)
  • C or C++ Certified Senior Programmer (CLS or CPS)
  • (ISC)2 Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP)
  • Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialist
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)

Developing knowledge and abilities in the above areas could lead you to jobs with IT companies, health care organizations, and government departments. As a software developer, you could benefit from a bright future filled with excellent growth and earning potential.

  • Entry-level education—Bachelor's degree
  • Estimated job growth—17 percent; 186,600 additional new jobs
  • Average annual salary—$102,160 for application developers and $108,760 for systems software developers
  • Top-end annual salary—$153,710 and higher for application developers and $159,850 and higher for systems software developers

9. Electrician

Jobs for Recent College GraduatesThe modern world is built on electricity, which is a vital component of everyday life for almost everything that you do. In addition to needing to safely and securely install, maintain, and repair new and existing electrical systems, emerging technologies like solar and wind energy are expected to drive the demand for electricians in the coming years.

Although possessing electrical training can help you enter this field, you don't need to fret if you are starting from square one. Depending on the type of program you opt for, you could obtain the skills you need to get started in a matter of months. Or you could go the route of an apprenticeship program that combines your in-class instruction with paid on-the-job training over the course of four years.

Developing expertise in areas related to electrical technology, science, and math can help prepare you to work on commercial, industrial, and residential systems. And to gain even greater access to electrical jobs, you might want to consider obtaining certification through an agency such as the Electrical Training Alliance. Also note that most states have individual licensing rules, so it is important to check that you will meet your state's requirements.

  • Entry-level education—Certificate or diploma
  • Estimated job growth—14 percent; 85,900 additional new jobs
  • Average annual salary—$55,590
  • Top-end annual salary—$88,130 and higher

10. HVAC Technician

Jobs for Recent College GraduatesJust like electricians, HVAC technicians take on an essential role in the modern world. Their professional expertise aids them in installing, repairing, and maintaining systems related to air temperature and quality control, ventilation, and refrigeration. People and organizations rely on heating systems in the winter and cooling systems in the summer. And proper ventilation is critical for maintaining the air quality in larger buildings. Add in the need for refrigeration and you can see why HVAC technicians are so important.

You have several training options to prepare you for the HVAC profession. Programs can range from just a few months to four-year apprenticeships that combine in-class training with paid work. Your program will help you build knowledge in areas related to electrical, electronic, and mechanical HVAC components, and it may even set you up to go after other career-boosting certifications. It is possible to obtain HVAC certifications through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NATE (North American Technician Excellence), and HVAC Excellence.

Along with needing to install new units and repair and maintain existing systems, HVAC technicians are facing growing demand due to the advancement of green technologies like geothermal and solar energy. If you like the sound of a skilled trades career, then you might want to pursue one of the good-paying high-growth jobs that the HVAC industry has to offer.

  • Entry-level education—Certificate or diploma
  • Estimated job growth—14 percent; 39,600 additional new jobs
  • Average annual salary—$47,380
  • Top-end annual salary—$71,690 and higher

11. Computer Support Specialist

Jobs for Recent College GraduatesThe computer support sector offers a lot of variation in employment options, so the program choices can be quite diverse. If you have earned a diploma or degree in a technology discipline related to computer hardware and software, computer repair, networking, systems administration, or a similar subject, you could be set to pursue computer support jobs for recent college graduates.

As a computer support specialist, you assist people and organizations with their computer hardware components and software programs. Your position could be quite technical and involve supporting network and database users. Or you could be working in more of a help desk capacity, which involves assisting non-technical users who are experiencing problems. Some of the responsibilities you may have could include:

  • Installing and maintaining computer systems
  • Installing hardware and software
  • Assessing and solving problems
  • Monitoring and troubleshooting networks
  • Assisting remote users
  • Conducting computer repairs
  • Performing necessary system updates

There are also a number of industry certifications that computer support professionals can achieve, which include the following:

  • Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP)
  • CompTIA A+
  • HDI Support Center Analyst (HDI-SCA)
  • iET Service Desk Analyst
  • Microsoft Specialist

You may be able to find employment opportunities with retail businesses, corporate offices, or health care, financial, or government organizations, just to name a few of the possibilities. Depending on the type of training you have received, you could qualify for positions such as computer support specialist, desktop support technician, help desk specialist, and technical support specialist.

  • Entry-level education—Diploma, associate's, or bachelor's degree
  • Estimated job growth—12 percent; 88,800 additional new jobs
  • Average annual salary—$52,430
  • Top-end annual salary—$81,260 and higher

12. Skin Care Specialist

Jobs for Recent College GraduatesWith a small amount of training, you could be prepared to begin a career in which you play a part in helping people look and feel their best. Even if you have no prior beauty training, you could complete a skin care or esthetician program in as little as six months. And if you have already completed a cosmetology program, it is likely that you possess the knowledge and skills needed to start down this career path.

Skin care specialists—also referred to as estheticians—offer facials, hair removal, makeup application, body wraps, and additional skin care services in salon, spa, resort, and other non-medical settings. Your clients could simply want to relax and enhance their appearance, or they could be seeking health benefits to deal with concerns like acne, eczema, and wrinkles.

Many skin care programs will also help you develop essential business skills so that you could choose to run your own shop rather than work for someone else. Whatever direction you choose, you can expect to face some great professional opportunities.

  • Entry-level education—Certificate or diploma
  • Estimated job growth—12 percent; 6,600 additional new jobs
  • Average annual salary—$35,300
  • Top-end annual salary—$61,330 and higher

13. Film & Video Editor

Jobs for Recent College GraduatesImagine having a hand in creating a groundbreaking documentary or the latest blockbuster film. That could be your reality if you begin a career in film and video editing. And by completing a media arts program that focuses on subjects like cinematography, digital film, filmmaking, media production, or video production, you could be on your way to an exceptional career.

Film and video editors understand the creative and technical aspects that are needed to tell a story. Their professional expertise is relied on to create movies, TV shows, music videos, commercials, corporate videos, screenplays, and teleplays. And many film and video editors have skills that crossover into other areas such as production. Depending on the type of position you pursue, you could be using the latest equipment and software to:

  • Shoot, edit, and direct analog and digital footage
  • Write or evaluate scripts
  • Design sets
  • Set up lighting
  • Write contracts
  • Assist with budgeting, marketing, finance, and distribution activities

As consumers continue to view mobile and online content, it is expected that film and video editing professionals could find good job prospects well into the future. And the jobs usually pay quite well too.

  • Entry-level education—Associate's or bachelor's degree
  • Estimated job growth—11 percent; 6,400 additional new jobs
  • Average annual salary—$80,300
  • Top-end annual salary—$155,840 and higher

Prepare to Elevate Your Professional Talents

Now that you have checked out some of the high-growth jobs for recent graduates, you may be thinking that you need to complete additional training in order to go after the career you desire. The great news is that you can take that first step right now. Simply put your zip code into the search tool below and discover the programs that are available in your area. It's only your future that is waiting!



* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, website last visited on January 19, 2016.

** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on April 14, 2016.

*** American Heart Association, Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — At-a-Glance, website last visited on January 19, 2016.

**** Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Heart Disease Facts," website last visited on January 19, 2016.