Welcome to the latest edition of Getting Started, the quintessential guide to the professional world for the ambitious young worker. Looking for good paying jobs for 22 year olds can be a challenge, as there are many young professionals with a whole range of different qualifications. Whether you’re working with a high school diploma, an associate’s degree, or about to graduate from a bachelor’s degree program, there are always ways to improve yourself as a candidate, and work towards building the skills and work experience that will propel you through the rest of your career.
At 22 years old, there are many different stages in life that you could be going through at the moment. Everyone advances at their own pace, and taking a different career path than someone else is perfectly normal. Because of the difference in qualifications, career stages, and skill levels, we will once again break this article into multiple sections. Each section contains invaluable advice for every young worker, so we suggest that you read the entire article, not just the section that pertains to your educational or work experience.
For the New or Approaching College Graduate
If you’re a 22 year old college student, graduation is likely fast approaching. You’ll soon need to begin the search for employment, and finding job opportunities even with this level of educational attainment seems like it is getting more and more difficult. You want to find the highest paying job you can after graduation, but without the proper connections and professional skills, it can be a challenge for a recent college graduate to find a high paying job, even with their shiny new bachelor’s degree.
The key, if you have not graduated quite yet, is to begin the job search now, before they put the diploma in your hand. There is in fact high demand for young adults with a college degree in many fields, you just have to know where to look, so that you are not left scrambling after graduation day.
Networking, networking, networking. That seems to be half of what we talk about in these articles, but for good reason. Most job opportunities are found not through random applications, but through the connections you have made throughout your career. Young adults in your age bracket are at a disadvantage in this area, as you have not had the chance to make as many connections as older workers have. If you want to level the playing field, and give yourself access to jobs with a higher median salary, you have to make some of those connections now, before you’re out on the street with nothing but a diploma and your wits.
One great way for a young person to begin making connections and look toward job growth opportunities is through internships. Beyond experience and job training in the field, internships connect you with companies and executives, and give you access to higher level employment opportunities in the future, compared to others in your age group. The connections that you make during college internships can be leveraged down the road, and some internships can lead directly to employer bids for hiring you full time once you officially receive your college degree.
Another great job growth and networking opportunity is leveraging your school’s alumni. Your college or university may have a specific program or office for contacting alumni, or you may have to do a little research on your own. Either way, reaching out to graduates of your school in the field you want to enter creates connections, and can be a learning opportunity for you. You can ask them questions about their job, labor statistics, the job training process, and other employment opportunities in the field that may be available to a recent college graduate in the near future. They likely have advice on how to get started in your career field, and what the job outlook and starting pay might be for you once you graduate.
Once you graduate, and can finally add that expensive bachelor’s degree to your resume, the responsibility for finding a high paying job falls much more squarely on your shoulders. You no longer have access to the security or resources of your college, so finding a job with a nice median salary becomes an even more urgent task. In the past, all you’ve had to worry about was finding a summer job- now, you’re looking for a source of permanent employment. You are still a young person, without the professional skill or connections of your older or higher level competition, but your age can be an asset, not a disadvantage. Companies want to hire young adults with a college degree, in the hopes that they will stick with the company for many years, meaning with the right self-advertising you can get a whole bunch of employer bids right out of the gate.
You may not get your dream job immediately, and have to take a position with lower starting pay just to get started in the field. Once you secure that first position, however, there are many things you can do to work yourself up to higher positions, and a bigger annual salary. The networking, connections, and self-improvement never stop, and if you want that higher average pay, you must continue to take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way.
What? MORE Networking?
The first and easiest way to do this is to be friendly with your coworkers and superiors. There likely aren’t many employees in your age group, but learning to communicate and connect with others in the workplace is a valuable skill to learn, and may yield job growth opportunities down the road. Those opportunities could come in the form of promotions and a higher average salary, or opportunities outside of your company through someone you used to work with.
Another key for working towards a higher annual salary is becoming visible outside of your company, getting your name and reputation out there in your industry. In almost every field, there will be opportunities to meet other executives, clients, or competitors, through a variety of different events. If you are given the chance to attend any sort of conference, meetup, or professional event, you should without a doubt take it. Many young workers in your age bracket may shy away from this kind of thing, but events that give you the chance to meet higher level people in your field are essential for getting your name out there, and can help you make connections that will lead to job growth and a higher average salary in the future.
Any time you interact with someone in a professional setting, do your best to leave a solid, positive impression on them. The highest paying job opportunities come through connections, and connections are made through positive, memorable workplace interactions.
If You Don’t Have A Bachelor’s Degree
In today’s workplace, there is still high demand for workers without a college degree in many fields. Gone are the days of you making minimum wage- high school graduates can close the pay gap, and there are plenty of good paying jobs for 22 year olds to be found out there. Job ads may often make your options seem limited without a bachelor’s or associate degree, but there are plenty of other ways to make yourself stand out as a candidate, and make a higher median wage than many other young adults your age.
An obvious key to increasing your median income is simply by amassing more skills and work experience. Take advantage of any job training opportunities you come across, any programs, courses, or certifications offered by your employer. Without a college degree, these extra qualifications will be your best friend, and give you that advantage over the average minimum wage employee.
Depending on your exact position and field, there may also be ways for you to network, and make connections outside of your company that could lead to more job opportunities. If you have not already, we recommend that you read the above sections for more information on how to go about doing this.
If you have the time and resources, working some online jobs on the side can be a great way to build skills, connections, and experience all at once, and make some money to go with it. Online jobs come in all shapes and sizes, and you can almost certainly find one relevant to your field. As a freelancer, you can build connections with clients, and potentially even secure a full time job with a nice median wage. You can also build up your sales and communication skills, which will come in handy down the road in your career.
Even at the age of 22, there are plenty of things you can continue to do to improve your job outlook down the road. For more valuable tips and tricks for the young worker, check out the rest of our Getting Started series– each article contains advice that can help at any age, not just the one listed in the title!