Essential Jobs and Tips for 20 Year Olds: Getting Started

A twenty years old, you’re no longer a teenager. As such, you may feel older, wiser, and above any petty tips that some internet job guide might give you. It is true that you have gained experience as a worker already, and may have even decided the career path that you want to continue down for the rest of your life. However, even as a 20 year old there are still things you can do now that will help you get a high paying job down the road, whether you are pursuing a college degree or not.

As with our Getting Started edition for 19 year olds, we will divide this article into multiple sections, based on where you are in your career and professional journey. You may already have landed a full or part time job as a member of the young labor force, or you could be on your way to pursuing an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. Whichever path you are on, there are useful tips for all 20 year olds scattered throughout this article, so we suggest that you read the entire page to give you a better shot at some of the highest paying jobs for 20 year olds out there.

Job Tips For Those In The Workforce

As we discussed in the previous installment of Getting Started, joining the workforce at a young age is a difficult task, but a commendable one for those who follow that path. You likely have a high school diploma, and have spent a year or two at a low or minimum wage job since graduation, working to become an independent adult. If you have read any of our other Getting Started articles, which we highly recommend even if they don’t match your age, you know that it isn’t just about finding a high paying job immediately- it is about building up the skills and resume that will help you in the future, though the extra cash is never a bad thing. Good paying jobs for 20 year olds are out there, but it is more important that you learn how to be a good worker, and climb your way up the professional ladder.

Where To Look

A great place to start for someone your age, if you are not already employed, is higher-level positions at lower-level companies. Retail or restaurant management are great places to show off your talents, and usually require no more than a high school diploma for employment. A position like these will not be the most fun job, but in some cases the starting pay can be decent, and showing that you have held responsibility for money, inventory, and people will give you a huge leg up when applying for jobs with a higher average salary in the future.

For an extended list of good paying jobs for 20 year olds, check out the one on the 18 Year Old installment, and for more information about the specific kinds of positions discussed here, check out Getting Started for 19 Year Olds.

Moving Up

At 20 years old, you are likely looking to become financially independent, and therefore would probably like to be making a bit more money than you currently are. There are many ways to go about reaching this goal, depending on the relationship you have with your current employer, and what their business model is. If you have been with your current employer for a significant amount of time, and have a good relationship with your superiors, you may be able to approach them about getting a salary raise at your current position. If you are a valuable worker to your superiors, they would likely rather bump your wage by a few dollars than lose you and have to train someone else, so asking for a higher salary is generally worth a shot.

good paying job for 20 year old two people talking to get a raise in a high paying job for a 20 year old
If your relationship with your boss is green and sour, you probably won’t be getting any sweet raises…

If the pay or job outlook is not particularly good with your current employer, looking for a better job opening elsewhere is of course an option for you. At this point in time you should have one or two solid listings on your resume, and a whole host of skills and responsibilities that you have developed in these positions. You may be able to make extra money in a second part time job, or find a new full time engagement to boost your average earnings. Some companies may have a similar position to the one you currently hold, with higher pay, or there may be a higher related position that your past work experience qualifies you for.

If you do choose to chase after a new job opening, be sure not to sour your relationship with your current employer. The connections you have made with superiors and coworkers may benefit you later down your career path, so parting on good terms should always be your goal when migrating to a new company.

Working With a 2-Year Degree

Some of you 20 year olds are likely wrapping up your collegiate studies in a 2-year or associate degree program. While this may be a small minority, an associate’s degree is still an extremely valuable asset in your career journey, and finding the perfect job with one of these is most definitely a realistic goal. Finding a job with high starting pay can be a challenge, but positions attainable with an associate’s degree have lots of potential for upward mobility, and a much higher average salary down the road.

Dental Hygienist: One great job opportunity for someone out of an associate degree program is becoming a dental hygienist. You will almost certainly need a degree in a dental-related field, but this is a great opportunity to break into dental care, and learn many great professional skills along the way. As a dental hygienist, you will get experience working directly with both patients and licensed dentists, giving you invaluable experience in care and cooperation that you can use down the road. Some choose to take this kind of position while studying for a full dental degree, but it is possible to have a complete career in dental hygiene without pursuing a higher degree.

Massage Therapist: Another fun job you can get with an associate’s degree is that of a physical or massage therapist. In some areas, various physical therapist positions have a decent median annual salary, but you may also need to obtain a special license to open a practice or be hired by an existing physical therapist. There are likely some training requirements, however almost any medical or therapy-related degree will at least get your foot in the door.

Radiology Technician: A job as a radiation therapist or technician is a great way to break into the medical field with your 2-year college degree. As a radiation therapist, you will work with complex machinery to perform imaging scans, helping doctors discover patients’ conditions and the appropriate treatments to administer to them. Once again, these jobs likely come with specific training requirements, but starting out should come with a nice median salary for you to begin your medical career on.

Air Traffic Controller: A fun job with a surprisingly high median salary that you can get with an associate’s degree is the position of air traffic controller. With a median annual salary of around $125,000, you can be making triple digits straight out of your college program. It is the perfect job for anyone with good time and people management skills, and someone who thrives in a fast-paced atmosphere.

For All You Eligible Bachelors

(This includes women too, just had to include the mediocre joke). Those of you 20 year olds looking to obtain a bachelor’s degree have a slightly different path to take, one that requires continued networking and skill building, as you have access to many invaluable resources as a college student. No matter the career field you are looking to enter, it is vital that you leverage the resources offered by your college or university before you lose them.

You may be interested in making money in the short term, and good paying jobs for 20 year olds can be found, but as you approach the halfway point of your college career, you must begin to look at opportunities that will help your job outlook after graduation.

Finding Internships

As a smart and resourceful college student, there are many ways that you might go about finding an internship in a career field relevant to your interests. Most colleges have career centers or internship placement offices, where you can meet with an advisor and be at least pointed in the direction of a fitting opportunity for you. These offices can help you put together your resume, prepare for an interview, and teach you what to expect in a high-level internship. Most internships do not have a salary attached, and the ones that do usually do not pay very much. The type of position that you will be recommended by such a placement office will be dependent on your area of study, your previous work experience, and your schedule and ability to travel beyond campus.

Another method of securing internships in your field is through your own networking. Use the networks of your peers, professors, and your school’s alumni, reaching out to individuals in your area of interest. If you show that you are dedicated, efficient, and a fast learner, you may be able to find at least an unpaid position simply by asking around. The best learning opportunities in the field can’t always be found through a career office- sometimes, you have to create them yourself by being outgoing, persistent, and resourceful. Even if you can’t secure a great internship right away, building these connections and networking now will help you get a high paying job down the road, and potentially better options later in college and after graduation.

Creating Summer Jobs

While your time during the school year is good for taking advantage of the opportunities at your college or university, the summer is a great time to make that extra money that you need for pizza, dates, and student loans. It is fairly easy to find a summer job as a college student, but at this stage you may want to start thinking beyond working at the local hardware store. Creating your own summer job can be a great experience in time management, responsibility, and entrepreneurship, all while making you that extra cash that you need.

If you live in a popular travel destination, scamming tourists is a great way to make some money during your summer break

When we talk about creating your own job, we don’t mean mowing lawns for your neighbors- that’s a thing of the past, a task for 18 year olds and high school kids. You are a skilled student, with the brains and entrepreneurial spirit to think bigger than that. If mowing lawns is really your passion, try recruiting younger kids, building up a real landscaping company that allows you to have real management experience, and maybe make a bit more than minimum wage doing it.

There are lots of great ways to create your own online job, and chances are you can find one that fits your passions and skillset. You can become a freelance writer, building up your reputation and brand on freelance sites so that you can raise your rates. Being a freelance writer doesn’t necessarily get you entrepreneurial and management experience like some other jobs would, but it is a great gig that you can continue on the side for many years of your life, if you take the opportunity to build up your reputation now.

Another great online job field is that in graphic design. You can become a graphic designer through a number of online platforms, acquiring clients, practice, and a reputation for quality work. Depending on your particular design specialty, you may even be able to start your own graphic design company, creating your own brand and website, doing business and managing all of your own assets rather than working through an online middle man. This could be just a fun summer gig, or help you to launch a full scale career as a graphic designer down the road.

No matter what mile of your professional journey you are on, it is never too late to learn new skills, and acquire experiences and resources that will help you down the road. Each edition of Getting Started contains essential tips and advice for all young workers, not just those of the corresponding age. If you have time, we encourage you to check out the rest of our series, and wish you luck in your journey through the working world!