The end of the year is nearing, marking the time when soon-to-be college graduates will be thrown into the 'real world.' Graduation can be an intimidating life moment, with students leaving one chapter of life behind to begin a new one. That new chapter can be especially daunting for those rising graduates if they have not yet figured out a means of employment.
Luckily for them, there are reports every year that show trends on the current highest paying jobs in America, the highest paying jobs after graduation and the top jobs by satisfaction. These reports can help students who are worried about both salary and satisfaction in the work place.
Glassdoor, the fastest growing jobs and recruiting site, just released its results from a survey it has been conducting for a year. Glassdoor had its site members anonymously share their salaries and known job openings in their field for over the past year.
With 68 percent of people reporting that salary and compensation dominate their decision when choosing a place of employment according to Glassdoor, let's first look at the highest paying jobs right now in the United States.
Here are the Top 5:
1.Physician (Median Base Salary – $180,000)
2. Lawyer (Median Base Salary – $144,500)
3. Research and Development Manager (Median Base Salary – $142,120)
4. Software Development Manager (Median Base Salary – $132,000)
5. Pharmacy Manager (Median Base Salary – $130,000)
By looking at those numbers alone, we can see that the current marketplace is skewed towards those skilled in science, math and business. Science skills can lead to well-paying medical jobs as physicians or pharmacy managers. Math will help with jobs in programming and coding, as evidenced by research and development manager and software manager on the list. Finally, business skills can come in handy when combined with either science or math. Those skills can lead to success as a lawyer, researcher, programmer or doctor.
Let's see if those numbers match up with the highest paying jobs for college graduates, which have been reported by Michigan State University's Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI).
Here's that Top 5 list:
1. Associate Investment Banker (Entry-Level Median Pay – $73,829)
2. User Experience Designer (Entry-Level Median Pay – $67,532)
3. Front End Developer/Engineer (Entry-Level Median Pay – $61,653)
4. Biomedical Engineer (Entry-Level Median Pay – $60,752)
5. Forensic Accountant (Entry-Level Median Pay – $60,397)
The jobs are not identical, but the basic experience and knowledge necessary to earn a high-paying job remains consistent. It looks like math, science and business are once again the most important fields that students should have at least a basic knowledge of.
The interesting thing to look at is how salary doesn't completely translate to satisfaction in the work place. A web analyst, a job that ranks 8th on the CERI report, is on the top of the charts in job satisfaction. Behind that is biomedical engineer, which ranked 4th on the highest paying salary list, and in third is the role of a product marketing specialist, which was last on the list for salary on the CERI report.
Clearly, salary and satisfaction are not the same thing. Even though 68 percent of people initially choose a job based on salary, many of them end up leaving the job because of low satisfaction.
Seven soon-to-be USC graduates weighed in, and five of them agreed that satisfaction in the workplace is more important than job pay.
"I would rather work somewhere I can enjoy working, especially right after college. The worst thing to do would be to get in the wrong job from the beginning. Start out where you want to work and perform well and move up in the ranks there or move on to better companies. It's more about experience to me. That's the big payoff," said Chad David, a senior at USC.
Of the seven students, three of them did not even study in a field related to business, math or science, a fact that did not seem to matter to them at all.
"It goes back to working somewhere you want to be at rather than doing it for pay. Money doesn't buy happiness. It's such a cliché but it's so true. I am happy where I am as a journalist right now, and if I keep studying and working, I may eventually get the salary to match the satisfaction," said Rachel Kohn, another USC senior.
The choice between salary and satisfaction seems personal for everyone. To work somewhere you enjoy working versus somewhere that will pay you well to not do what you want to do. Both are decent choices with risks and rewards, so the best situation would be to find a happy medium.
Find a job you like that also pays well.
It is obviously easier said than done, and it is especially difficult to find a job you enjoy that pays well right after college.
So, find a job that can make you happy over everything. But make sure that position gives you opportunities to grow and get promoted. Don't just jump at a job just because it fits your desires, because if you have no room to grow and move up in the company hierarchy, it would be tough to love that job forever.
That's the same reason for why you shouldn't jump at a job for its salary. If you do not enjoy what you are doing, you could get stuck at that salary because, without passion behind your work, you might not be putting in the work necessary to earn a promotion.
So remember, happiness over everything. After all, money is just paper. Satisfaction is priceless. At least that's how I, and the majority of the people I spoke with, see it.
Reach staff reporter Max Goldwasser here.