Millennials, also known as Generation Y or Gen Y for short, are individuals born between 1981 and 1996. This puts the majority of these individuals are in their late twenties or thirties. If you’re a millennial, there’s a good chance that you’re at the start of your professional career. Perhaps you’re wondering, “what are the best jobs for millennials?”
Top 12 Jobs for Millennials
- Software Development
- Mechanical Engineer
- Nursing Assistant
- Software Sales
- Food Services
- Web Designer
- Data Analyst
- Gig Worker
The answer to that question certainly depends most on what you’re hoping to get out of life, both in the short term and in the long term. Millennials are noteworthy for being the first generation to develop familiarity with the internet, mobile devices, and social media.
That being said, millennials tend to live lives that are very digitally integrated. Millennials tend to spend around two hours and 40 minutes every day on social media, and many of them have around nine different social media accounts. Millennials also tend to be better educated (at least in terms of accredited education) than the generations that preceded them, with around 40 percent of millennials having a bachelor degree or higher.
But millennials have struggled somewhat in other areas, like employment and financial growth. Or have they? Millennials are popularly believed to have poor financial habits, but a recent survey by Bank of America found that millennials are saving money for retirement earlier than their predecessors, and that 25 percent of millennials already have six figures in savings. To be fair, some of the bad press around millennials and their professional lives has been the economic environment, with recessions in 2008 and again because of the Covid pandemic. Some millennials have struggled because the cost of college tuition has dramatically increased, while wages and salaries have remained largely stagnant.
Millennial home ownership is low, with less than 50 percent of millennials owning a home, compared to 78 percent of Baby Boomers (two generations before). Some experts have attributed this to longer spans of immersion in accredited education, and therefore more debt—both of which delay home ownership.
Statistics like this don’t just reflect financial realities; they also point to different values. Millennials are getting married later in life, sometimes prioritizing personal goals and achievements before tying the knot. Millennials spend more money and time traveling than other generations. They have also embraced the sharing economy.
In short, millennials are more about delaying traditional life milestones in favor of living a more flexible life. It makes sense, given that lifespans have increased. This means millennials are free to test out different job opportunities before settling down.
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Top 12 Jobs for Millennials
Young adults often have a different set of expectations in regards to their job search than older job seekers. Previous generations, like the Baby Boomer, had a more standard approach to professional development—for example, starting off as an employee at the ground level, reaching a six-figure salary through decades of advancement. Most workers were content to stay at the same company for years or decades on end, never looking for a new job unless necessary.
Times have changed since then. Millennial employees do care about career advancement, but a job with purpose is more important than a six-figure salary. Employee engagement is crucial for younger workers who prefer real-time guidance over packaged periodic reviews from an aloof boss.
Company culture is also important, as millennial workers place high premiums on work life balance. This is why many of the most cutting-edge companies, especially in verticals that attract skilled young workers, spend company resources on retreats, speakers, and teambuilding events. Upward mobility for millennials is not just about their resume, but about truly increasing their skill set. They appreciate an employer who is less of a taskmaster and more of a coach.
All that said, we’ve compiled a list of job descriptions for the young professionals that make up the millennial workforce. Some of these ideas are more traditional staples on the job market in terms of nine-to-five work with a fixed salary, other ideas showcase a more flexible job type that is unique to the very mobile and tech heavy culture in which millennial workers live and breathe.
We’ve also included a variety of jobs that speak to different motivations among young professionals. Some might be seeking that six-figure salary that goes with a career path like engineering. A few might be seeking the sense of purpose and fulfillment that comes with coaching, while others might be seeking the freedom and flexibility that comes with entrepreneurship.
1. Software Development
A software engineer designs and builds software. Working with the client, they create a solution to address the needs of that particular client. There are many different types of software, each one addressing a particular need. CRM, or customer relationship management software, is used by organizations to keep track of customer data and engage them appropriately. Logistical software is used to keep track of moving parts in a supply chain. Fintech software is used to process payments and manage investment portfolios.
As you can see, software makes the world go round, and software development is an important part of that. The salary for software developers is commensurate with their usefulness, at a national average of $110k per year.
2. Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical engineers design machines and their parts—both machines that produce power, like generators, and machines that use power, like home appliances and personal electronics. A quick look at the world around you will show that electronic devices are everywhere, and someone has to design them.
That’s where mechanical engineers come in. Mathematics, drafting, critical thinking, design, and physics are just a few areas of knowledge that are integral to the profession. The average salary of a mechanical engineer is $91k, so within just a few years a mechanical engineer could be looking at a six-figure salary.
3. Nursing Assistant
As previous generations, such as the Baby Boomer Generation, enter retirement, there has been higher demand for healthcare services and healthcare workers. And while getting an MD (to be a practicing doctor) is a process that takes up to 11 years, it can take just a few months to become an LPN (Licensed Nurse Practitioner) and four years to become an RN (Registered Nurse).
These frontline healthcare workers make an average salary of $73k annually, with comparatively much less debt than those pursuing an MD. There is a high degree of flexibility to this job in terms of location, since nurses are needed everywhere. Nurses usually take care of patients in hospitals, but they can also provide in-home care and care for the elderly in nursing homes. Some nurses can obtain additional certifications to even open their own family practice. All that said, it’s easy to see why, by some estimates, nursing is actually the number one job among millennials aged 25-34.
4. Software Sales
As mentioned earlier, software makes the world go round. But just because you have a fantastic product, doesn’t mean everyone knows about it. Software sales reps are the ones who sell software products to new clients. Software sales can be a lucrative career, with some top earners getting an average of $80k annually. Even those in the 25th percentile earn $40k annually.
The software sales cycle has many parts, from inside reps who place cold calls and send emails to account managers who meet with clients to figure out an exact solution, to sales engineers who work with the client to make sure the finished product smoothly integrates into their operations.
5. Food Services
Some businesses never go out of style, and one of them is food. The food service industry has long been viewed as a typical stop on the professional journey of a young man or woman, and that hasn’t changed with millennials either.
Waiters and waitresses typically earn low salary pay, but the big bucks in that profession come from tips. Working in food services can also be a stopping point for millennials who are still searching for a career path, providing income, fun, and camaraderie along the way. If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant or as a bartender, you know you’re sure to collect some memorable moments.
Of course, some individuals will choose to remain in food services, which has plenty of opportunities for enterprising individuals, such as opening their own restaurant, bar, food truck, or catering company.
6. Web Designer
Web designers create websites for businesses and individuals. They may work on the back end with coding and building the site, or the front end with user experience (UX) and layout. They might also serve as a manager over a team where a number of different people take charge of the different parts.
Web design has many components, from coding the site to functionally serve its purpose (online store, payment portal, blog, business page), to its graphic layout (which requires some artistic skill), to the SEO (search engine optimization) that drives traffic to a site. The average salary for a web designer or web developer is $74k annually, though that salary may vary depending on whether a web developer works for themselves or works for a company.
7. Data Analyst
There are many forms of data analysis, in science, finance, business, and government. Usually, the analyst type will be named for its industry, such as financial analyst or business analyst.
Analysts work with data to help an organization or company make better moves in the future. For example, a business analyst may look at how the market has responded to a particular advertisement and help the marketing team plan their next move accordingly. A financial analyst may look at a bank’s investment portfolio and provide alternative paths that can maximize profits. What the many diverse fields of analysis have in common is the idea of looking at data, which requires a good head for math, critical thinking, and pattern recognition.
Analysts have a median salary around $74k annually. In some situations, an analyst may be able to jump from one industry to another, but like any profession, the more entrenched you get in one vertical, the more valuable your skills become and the higher your salary goes.
E-commerce involves selling something online. The e-commerce industry is open to anyone who wants to participate. Sites like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and others allow members to sell anything and everything to anywhere in the world. Even more amazing is the fact that some vendors do not even have to carry inventory. Their business model is built around dropshipping, which means that when a customer orders an item from their website, the store owner in turn orders the item from their supplier, who ships it right to the customer.
E-commerce has allowed some entrepreneurial spirits to earn millions of dollars. However, there are plenty of individuals who started trying to sell something online, and have yet to see any income out of it. In fact, despite the fact that ecommerce is set to outpace brick and mortar retailing, the market is also very saturated. If you don’t know how to market your product, you could get lost in the thousands of other vendors selling the same thing or something similar.
9. Gig Worker
A gig worker typically finds jobs through a platform like Uber, Lyft, or DoorDash. These energetic individuals might drive paying customers around as part of a rideshare service, or deliver food to hungry consumers.
A mobile society and apps have facilitated this economic development, whereby enterprising people can work on their own schedule, whenever they want. For a millennial who has not yet found a salaried career path, gig work provides some flexibility to earn money on the go delivering pizza or assembling furniture.
The gig working average salary is on the lower end at $29k annually, but that is not so much of a problem for a single person with no dependents to support. Gig working is also something that can be pursued as side income for millennials who already have a full time job without being locked into more hours.
The freelance economy allows individuals to acquire individual jobs directly from a client. Once the job is completed, the freelancer can move on to working with a different client, or even take another job from the same client. Freelancing provides individuals with an incredible amount of flexibility to work anywhere they want, with whoever they want.
One image typically associated with freelance work is the image of someone working on a laptop on the beach in Bali. Though not every gig worker can make this happen, it’s certainly possible. A millennial with a penchant for wandering and exploring the world can travel, taking their laptop with them, and continuing to work while they explore—something that a job with nine-to-five hours cannot afford.
Freelancers can offer services in writing, graphic design, marketing, drafting, or anything else that can be done remotely with a computer. The salary range for freelancers is very broad, ranging from averages of $34k per year up to six figures and beyond.
This is one job that every millennial wants, but not everyone can get. A social media influencer is someone with a strong social media following. Businesses and organizations will reach out to partner with this influencer to have their products, goods, or services featured in a post or story or video. Social proof is quite strong, and the ROI can be excellent, earning anywhere from five to 11 times the value of every dollar put in.
When social media first started, it was much easier to acquire followers. Social media platforms have since changed the algorithm they use to determine who and how many people see a social media post, making it harder to get attention without paying for ads. But those influencers who were already entrenched or who have worked hard to build up a following will have the opportunity to get paid and enjoy free vacations, free cars, free food, free clothes, and tons of other stuff that a company wants to sell to their millennial following—whether its fashion, financial services, or a destination resort.
Similar to e-commerce, the coaching industry can be marketed all over the world. You don’t need certifications, accreditations, or a degree to coach on a topic you know about. Sites like Teachable or Udemy allow you to put a course up and start teaching what you know, whether it’s art history, computer programming, or how improve your relationship. As the creator of the course, you’ll collect royalties every time someone purchases it. You can also offer individualized coaching sessions to people over the phone, Zoom, or in person.
Typically, the sales funnel of selling information starts with giving away free content, such as Facebook Live videos or a free eBook. That then leads to an email list where you market your knowledge and offer readers the opportunity to purchase a course. After the course, many coaches offer the opportunity for individualized coaching. Some individuals even offer a coaching program where participants can learn how to be a coach in your particular methodology. Diet, fitness, mental health, and business development are a few areas where there are plenty of opportunities to coach people who can benefit from your expertise.
A Career Path for Every Millennial
As you can see, there are a wide range of jobs we’ve looked at, taking into account factors like flexibility, pay, professional opportunity, and work life balance. There isn’t one job that’s best for everyone, and there is more to financial wellbeing and goal setting than a job!
Even if you have the best-paying job in the world, it won’t meant anything if you spend all your money. Developing financial awareness, such as learning how to save and invest your money towards your future, is also important. There are a number of ways to do this beyond the traditional path of saving five percent of your paycheck to an IRA or 401(k), although that should also definitely be done as well. Ethical investing is becoming a trend among millennials who want the money they put into the stock market to fund responsible companies. There are also applications that make saving and investing much easier, like Acorns, which rounds off spare change and dumps it into a robo-advised account.
It’s okay to make mistakes along the way, and it’s also okay to change paths in life if something you are doing is not working out. Millennials typically have more flexibility in this area than previous generations because they are putting off milestones like home ownership, which means they are less likely to be locked into a career path.
Some millennials will be drawn to flashy ways of making money, such as investing in cryptocurrency. It’s often wise to glean wisdom from older individuals who have already have life experience to learn key lessons in personal finance, professional development, and personal life. This is especially true in the world of investing, where the excitement of Wall Street can lead inexperienced investors to make poor choices.
Consider resources like the Infinity Investing book. It will give you ideas on how to start your life journey with a good dose of financial responsibility, so you can meet personal goals along the way—not matter whether those goals are backpacking through Europe, starting your own family, or eventually buying a home.
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