Thursday, April 04, 2013

Why Some BA Holders Can't Find a Job

Megan McCardle, over at the Daily Beast talks about education, and why some holders of BA degrees are working in a coffee shop.
Too many college kids are living in Mom's basement, or working at Starbucks.  Like most personal finance columnists, I get the letters from them: what do I do?  How do I fix this? For many, the answer is grad school.  But I get the letters from grad students too.
Megan goes on to tell us about charts and graphs, and government policy, but in many ways she misses the point of education, and employment.  Unless you're in a specific field, employers want to know what you can do.  What skills do you have?  How can you help my business be profitable?  And the simple fact is that if you've got a BA in English Lit, you may not have any salable skills.  Earlier today, Instapundit linked to an article that said some McDonalds restaurants were asking for a Bachelor's Degree for a cashier's job.  The article has been updated to reflect that no, you don't need a BA to work in McDonald's, but you get the point.  There are a lot of BA holders out there and only so many jobs to go around.

So, what's a kid supposed to do to get a job?  Simple, learn a skill.  If you start looking at want ads, you'll find that pharmacy techs are in high demand, as are Licensed Practical Nurses.  Welders don't have trouble finding work, nor do auto mechanics.   Learn the dirty work, the stuff that some folks don't want to do and you'll always have a job.  Wastewater treatment is a booming field.  It may not be as glamorous as some other jobs, but every house has a sewer line, and ever sewer line connects to a wastewater plant.  All that stuff has to go somewhere, and the pay will feed a family.

Mike Rowe made a successful TV series of the jobs no one wants to do.  Those jobs pay good money, and they'll keep you out of hock until you get something better.  The simple fact of the matter is that you might decide that working for a living, in an career field you never considered, is a fulfilling way to spend your life.

I've got a Bachelor's degree and I'm a cop.  I use my education every day, but not in the field of my study.  I used it in the military, and I use it in the police business.  Education is important, but don't let it lock you into a career plan that you can't sustain.  Go out, get a job, learn the trade.  Oh, and for you guys working at McDonald's, keep working.  Restaurant managers are normally paid very, very well.


Old NFO said...

Good point Paw, there is NOTHING wrong with actually doing work for a living, contrary to what many think...

Gerry N. said...

I went to a Community College Boatbuilding School, then spent 35 years building and repairing Yachts and Workboats in a small shipyard in Seattle. Top wages the whole time, more fun that folks usually have with clothes on at the same time. Learn a manual skill, there is always a need for someone who can make, repair or build things.

Anonymous said...

PawPaw is right. If you go to college, choose a science or engineering major. Otherwise, you are better off spending your money on a trade school. The world has too many English, History and Psychology majors.

Termite said...

Turbine engine mechanics can make a very good living. The Solar mechanics I've talked to make $120K plus.