It's no secret that education is linked to job security and salary. Those with a high school degree were likely to earn less than half the salary, and experience over twice the unemployment, as those with a master's degree according to research from Salary.com. General facts about education and employment can help your individual career choices, but you have particular interests and unique circumstances. Don't overlook researching what your rewards and opportunities will be before you dive into an educational plan. Here are some terrific resources to help you.
This Department of Labor site is a vast and easy-to-use network of facts about job availability, compensation and skill needs. Among the most interesting ways to search are:
- By state: Learn the pay and availability of work in your state or one you plan to live in. Compare statistics for different states.
- For abilities: Learn the skills, abilities and knowledge needed to excel in a particular field.
- By degree: Compare salaries and job availability based on educational level.
- For necessary licenses: Search by occupation, agency and state to make sure you understand which licenses you need to practice your future career.
This site lets you search by industry or job title to find your prospective job's outlook, salary level and educational requirements. It's excellent for comparing occupations within an industry and for learning which jobs are good stepping-stones to other jobs.
This tool allows you to search by industry, particular job and area. Your search will retrieve the average salary per job in your area and compare it to the national average. You also have the option of learning about the occupation and the required education. This can be an extremely useful tool for:
- Learning about an industry: For example, if you know you're interested in the entertainment industry, but you are unsure which jobs interest you or will likely pay you what you need to earn, search by industry and compare descriptions and incomes for various positions.
- Learning about variation in pay based on region: Compare jobs in different regions to see where your future lies.
Plug in what you expect to owe and what you expect to make upon graduation. This tool will calculate the monthly payment on your education loan, and what percentage of your salary the loan will consume. It even factors in a modest salary growth and gives a recommendation.
In addition to checking sites that compare salaries across states, it's also a good idea to compare what a dollar is worth in different locations. Learn, for example, that if you earn $30,000 in Knoxville, Tenn., you would need to earn a salary of $82,647 in San Francisco to maintain the same standard of living. You may find this information especially useful if you don't plan to work while earning a degree in a new city.
Planning for your future is never easy, and only you can really understand your specific situation. But a little time spent researching can help you make major decisions that will affect your education, career and financial wellbeing.