Why College Graduates Are Settling for Minimum Wage Jobs

Gerald Morales

By , Staff Writer
Posted on Tue Apr 22, 2014

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Why College Graduates Are Settling for Minimum Wage Jobs

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Going to college means you’re going to land a high-paying job and make lot of money, right? That is not the case in today’s world. A fair amount of college graduates are settling for minimum wage or low paying jobs.

Obtaining a high-paying job right out of college is becoming a thing of the past. With the influx of college graduates, and decrease in quality jobs, college graduates are settling for all sorts of low-paying jobs, including positions that pay minimum wage.

There are a total of 260,000 college graduates working as minimum wage workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from data compiled from 2013. While that number has decreased a total of 27,000 from 2012, it is still an alarmingly high number of workers.

People with college degrees still make more than those with lesser degrees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports a graduate with a bachelor’s degree in 2013 earned a median weekly pay of $1,108. A high school graduate earned a media wage of $651 on a weekly basis — a difference of $457 a week, or $1,828 a month with that of the college grad. The unemployment rate is also significantly higher for a person with a high school diploma, seven percent — three percent more than those who graduated college.

Student loan debt are hurting college graduates more than anything

The average student loan debt for college graduates is just under $30,000, and on the rise. Graduates have rent, food, other bills, and the general cost of living to worry about, on top of student loans.

Living off minimum wage is impossible. Most can barely afford to pay their minimum payment that is due for student loans every month.

Tips to avoid settling for a low paying job as a college graduate

To maximize your potential to land a job in the field of your choosing, there are a few steps you can take both during and after college.

  • Gain experience in your field through an internship — Working a summer internship is the perfect way to gain practical experience in the field you are studying. It is true many internships are unpaid, but some do offer stipends once completed. An internship can even lead to full-time work once you obtain your degree.
  • Get the best grades possible — Some employers prefer to hire employees with high grade point averages. Contrary to popular belief, your grades can matter with certain companies that you apply for.
  • Network with classmates in your field — Networking is a powerful skill to have at your side with any field you get into. Talk to your classmates and add them to your network. You should especially network with classmates who are going to graduate before you.
  • Consider relocating — Conduct your fair share of research to determine hot market locations for your target job. You may have to move away for a few years to start a new career.

Pick up a second skill

Many college graduates are going to back to school or completing various certifications to open their job prospects until they can work in their field of choice.

Secondary professions such as medical transcribers, truck drivers, office assistants, real estate agents, and tutors are additional career opportunities that require anywhere from a few months to less than two years of training. It’s a smart idea for anyone to pick up more than one skill to have another career to fall back on.

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