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Top Jobs for Millennials in Minnesota

by John Stevens
September 2017

Stevens was a performance measures intern at DEED this summer. He is a senior at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph and Saint John’s University in Collegeville, studying economics and political science.

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Millennials account for 36 percent of the labor force in Minnesota, eclipsing both baby boomers and Generation X.

Minnesota’s labor force is undergoing a major shift. As baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) continue to leave the workforce, millennials (born between 1981 and 1999)1 seek to fill the void they are leaving behind.

For millennials in college or for those looking for a new career path, the question becomes what occupations offer the best opportunity for good pay, stability, growth and opportunity. What are the best jobs for millennials? In this article we compile a list of the best jobs for millennials in Minnesota based on wages, projected growth, millennial share of employment and total number of jobs statewide. Further, we break down the best jobs for millennials by educational requirement and area of study or interest.

It’s a Millennial’s World

The millennial generation is large. As of 2015, millennials accounted for about 25 percent of Minnesota’s population and nearly 36 percent of the state’s labor force. In fact, millennials now comprise the largest segment of Minnesota’s labor force, while Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) and baby boomer workers comprise approximately 33 and 30 percent of the labor force, respectively.2

Fortunately, working-age millennials (ages 25 to 36) are increasingly finding work opportunities statewide, with unemployment rates on par with the average unemployment rate across all working-age groups.3

Despite popularly held stereotypes, millennials are proving themselves to be dedicated employees. Across every industry, the working-age millennial turnover rate is never more than three percentage points higher than the turnover rates for all employees.4 Moreover, turnover rates for younger workers have actually decreased over the past two decades.

Millennials work throughout Minnesota’s industry sectors. Sectors employing the most millennials include accommodation and food services; retail trade; arts, entertainment and recreation; administrative and support services; and health care and social assistance.5

Many occupations within these sectors are projected to experience significant growth in the coming years, with some occupations, such as statisticians, home health aides, physician’s assistants and biomedical engineers, anticipated to grow by more than 20 percent through 2024. 6 These are promising trends for millennials, especially those who are just entering the workforce and are interested in pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) or health care occupations. With baby boomers retiring at an increasing pace, career pathways also open up for older millennials looking to advance their skill sets, take on more leadership and earn higher wages.

At one end of the spectrum, industries like retail trade and accommodation and food services attract millennials looking for immediate work with little to no education required. This is perfect for employers desperate for workers in a tight labor market and can be a springboard for millennials to gain job experience.

At the other end of the spectrum, industries like professional, scientific and technical services; finance and insurance; and management push millennials to seek bachelor’s and advanced degrees.

Manufacturing and construction are often overlooked by millennials, despite their significant presence in the state economy. For example, manufacturing accounts for 13.6 percent of total state jobs compared with 10.5 percent nationally.7

Wages within manufacturing and construction are more than 16 percent higher than wages for the total of all industries.8 These occupations do not typically require postsecondary education, with apprenticeships and on-the-job training commonplace. Whether it’s an electrician, carpenter, welder or CNC operator, construction and manufacturing occupations are in-demand and offer excellent opportunities for millennials.

Methodology

Along with tools provided by DEED, we used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau to compile the list of top jobs for millennials in Minnesota. To make the list, each occupation had to have at least 5,000 employees statewide and show projected growth between 2014 and 2024. The average annual wage of the occupation had to be higher than the average annual wage across all occupations in Minnesota ($50,243). Finally, the occupation had to have a millennial share that was higher than the average millennial share across all occupations in Minnesota (23 percent). The occupations were then scored based on their rank for each category.

While other factors like job satisfaction and flexibility are important, no standard measures of these job qualities exist.

Using the new Career and Education Explorer tool9 developed by DEED, each occupation was matched to the most common area of study. In some cases, two areas of study were assigned to an occupation. The most common educational requirement was also assigned to each occupation.

Top Jobs for Millennials

Table 1 lists the top 25 jobs for millennials based on the data sets outlined above. STEM-related occupations dominate the top 25 list, including the top four occupations on the list, with application software developers at the top. All of the STEM-related occupations that appear on the list most commonly require a bachelor’s degree and almost always have average annual wages over $70,000.

While health care was only represented twice on the list, it is important to mention. As outlined earlier, health care is a great opportunity for millennials with the time and money to attend college and professional schools. Registered nurses, which appears as the sixth-best job for millennials, accounts for about 13 percent of the total jobs on the top 25 list. Many health care-related jobs were left off this list because of their relatively small size. Expanding the list to include jobs with over 1,000 employees statewide pushes the number of health care occupations on this list up to 10 of the top 25.

 

Table 1. Top 25 Job for Millennials

Occupation

Employees

Average
Annual Wage

Millennial Share

Growth

Software Developers, Applications

12,950

$93,033

32%

10%

Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists

12,090

$68,496

32%

13%

Computer Systems Analysts

15,130

$89,908

26%

18%

Software Developers, Systems Software

9,780

$107,005

32%

4%

Accountants and Auditors

26,550

$70,965

26%

7%

Registered Nurses

59,640

$72,892

24%

12%

Marketing Managers

7,590

$136,727

26%

7%

Financial Analysts

6,020

$87,720

35%

5%

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

8,330

$83,628

29%

4%

General and Operations Managers

38,820

$105,329

23%

4%

Loan Officers

7,370

$76,695

27%

6%

Construction Trades Workers

77,760

$54,254

25%

8%

Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters

8,630

$66,646

25%

8%

Mechanical Engineers

6,330

$82,328

30%

3%

Electricians

11,240

$59,340

24%

11%

Pharmacists

5,450

$123,123

31%

1%

Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers

8,790

$59,895

28%

3%

Industrial Engineers

8,250

$87,902

27%

1%

Primary, Secondary and Special Education School Teachers

78,530

$59,297

25%

2%

Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators

9,810

$57,928

24%

7%

Claims Adjusters, Examiners and Investigators

5,480

$63,344

28%

1%

Child, Family and School Social Workers

6,550

$57,892

26%

2%

Training and Development Specialists

5,660

$62,236

25%

5%

Plant and System Operators

6,190

$57,307

25%

1%

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

5,070

$54,394

24%

6%

Source: DEED Career and Education Explorer tool, Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau.

 

How much education do you need?

Table 2 provides the top jobs for millennials based on five educational requirements, which represent those most frequently required for the job. While average wages generally increase with educational requirement, there are great opportunities for people at all different levels of educational attainment. Most of the top jobs requiring high school or vocational training were construction or trades-related. All of the top jobs for those with an associate degree or above were in health care or STEM-related occupations.

 

Table 2. Top 3 Jobs for Millennials by Minimum Educational Requirement

Occupation

Most Common Educational Requirement

Employees

Average
Annual Wage

Millennial
Share

Growth

Brickmasons and Blockmasons

High School or Less

1,340

$66,292

31%

16%

Roofers

High School or Less

2,180

$56,313

33%

9%

Electricians

Vocational Training

11,240

$59,340

24%

11%

Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters

Vocational Training

8,630

$66,646

25%

8%

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

Vocational Training

2,790

$54,246

28%

7%

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

Associate Degree

1,400

$76,219

28%

19%

Registered Nurses

Associate Degree

59,640

$72,892

24%

12%

Dental Hygienists

Associate Degree

4,620

$71,582

27%

12%

Software Developers, Applications

Bachelor’s Degree

12,950

$93,033

32%

10%

Computer Systems Analysts

Bachelor’s Degree

15,130

$89,908

26%

18%

Biomedical Engineers

Bachelor’s Degree

1,100

$99,485

38%

23%

Physician Assistants

Graduate or Professional Degree

2,010

$107,599

39%

25%

Nurse Practitioners

Graduate or Professional Degree

3,290

$105,231

25%

26%

Nurse Anesthetists

Graduate or Professional Degree

1,540

$177,074

26%

14%

Source: DEED Career and Education Explorer tool, Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau.

 

What do you want to study?

The College Board identifies eight major areas of study: arts and humanities, business, health and medicine, multi-interdisciplinary studies, public and social services, STEM, social sciences, and trades and personal services. There were no jobs that met the top jobs requirements in the arts and humanities area of study, and the multi-interdisciplinary area of study was not included in the list.

Of the other categories, the list includes the top three jobs for each area of study. In most instances the jobs on this list are not limited to the area of study outlined; however, the area of study outlined is the most logical or most common route of study for the occupation (see Table 3).

 

Table 3. Top 3 Jobs for Millennials by Area of Study

Occupation

Area of Study

Employees

Average
Annual Wage

Millennial Share

Growth

Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists

Business

12,090

$68,496

32%

13%

Marketing Managers

Business

7,590

$136,727

26%

7%

General and Operations Managers

Business

38,820

$105,329

23%

4%

Pharmacists

Health and Medicine

5,450

$123,123

31%

1%

Registered Nurses

Health and Medicine

59,640

$72,892

24%

12%

Dental Hygienists

Health and Medicine

4,620*

$71,582

27%

12%

Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers

Public and Social Services

8,790

$59,895

28%

3%

Child, Family and School Social Workers

Public and Social Services

6,550

$57,892

26%

2%

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Public and Social Services

5,070

$54,394

24%

6%

Financial Analysts

Social Sciences

6,020

$87,720

35%

5%

Loan Officers

Social Sciences

7,370

$76,695

27%

6%

Elementary and Middle School Teachers

Social Sciences

27,370

$60,322

24%

2%

Software Developers, Applications

STEM

12,950

$93,033

32%

10%

Software Developers, Systems Software

STEM

9,780

$107,005

32%

4%

Computer Systems Analysts

STEM

15,130

$89,908

26%

18%

Electricians

Trades and Personal Services

11,240

$59,340

24%

11%

Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters

Trades and Personal Services

8,630

$66,646

25%

8%

Construction Trades Workers

Trades and Personal Services

77,760

$54,254

25%

8%

Source: DEED Career and Education Explorer tool, Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau.

 

Conclusion

Good opportunities exist across Minnesota for millennials at all educational levels and in most areas of interest. This article presents a set of occupations based on large size, employment growth and above-average wages and share of millennials within the occupation. These lists are meant to provide a starting place for millennials who are thinking about their careers and educational opportunities.

The Career and Education Explorer tool can be used by millennials and anyone else to further explore these and other career opportunities in Minnesota. This article is meant to highlight occupations that provide great opportunities for millennials, especially as this generation becomes more prominent in the Minnesota labor market.


1 Definitions of generational groups may vary across the literature.
2 2015 American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates, U.S. Census Bureau, https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml .
3 Ibid.
4 Quarterly Workforce Indicators, U.S. Census Bureau, https://qwiexplorer.ces.census.gov/static/explore.html.
5 Ibid.
6 Employment Projections, DEED, mn.gov/deed/eo.
7 Quarterly Workforce Indicators, U.S. Census Bureau, https://qwiexplorer.ces.census.gov/static/explore.html.
8 Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, DEED, mn.gov/deed/qcew.
9 https://apps.deed.state.mn.us/lmi/cpt/.

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