7 Surprising Places You’ll Find College Graduates Working
February 8, 2013

I’ve written recently that there are far more college graduates than there are jobs that require a college degree. So what’s a newly minted baccalaureate holder to do? If you have student loans and are ready to get started living life on your own, you go out and find a job – preferably in  the field of your degree, but if not, you’ve got to work, right? The numbers don’t lie – there aren’t enough degree-requiring jobs to go around right now, so in the meantime, an increasing number of college grads are taking jobs that don’t call for a degree.

More than 5.2 million college graduates are working in jobs that require only a high school diploma and more than 3 million more are in jobs that don’t even ask for that basic educational requirement. Most of these jobs are lower paying and this is concerning with college debt levels higher than ever. The roster of jobs where college graduates are working that requires high school only is interesting, but it’s the lower skilled jobs that graduates are accepting that I found even more surprising. This data was compiled by the Center for College Affordability and detailed in a fascinating report that asks “Why Are College Graduates Underemployed?

The jobs college grads are accepting are certainly ones our economy needs filled, but I wonder if this allocation of labor what’s best? If graduates are taking these jobs, are non-degreed job seekers being blocked out of jobs better suited to them? Check out these seven surprising places you’ll find college graduates working – jobs that do not even require a high school diploma:

#7 Personal Care Aides This is meaningful work, but seems like the prerequisites are compassion and patience rather than schooling. 10.5% of all personal care aides hold a bachelor’s degree and care for the elderly, disabled and convalescents in a residence or care facility. Work includes household duties including laundry and meal preparation. Median annual wage: $19,730

#6 Waiters & Waitresses – Many of you worked at a restaurant while in college, but you certainly hope to move past this once you get your sheepskin. Yet 14.3% of waiters and waitresses have their baccalaureate. This has to be frustrating work for grads because customers just want their burgers cooked right and iced teas refilled – no special skills required. Median annual wage: $18,570

#5 Counter & Rental Clerks – Every repair shop, car rental outlet and service-related business has customers queuing for checkout, so it makes sense that there are a great number of jobs available exchanging money for goods or services. These positions often involve computing price estimates, so a little college math could be helpful. Median annual wage: $22,740

#4 Bartenders – Alcohol mixology seems more art than science and a psychology degree would certainly help counsel barflies eager to pour out their hearts. Perhaps a degree could be useful for bartenders and you may be surprised to know that 16.5% of all bartenders have bachelor’s degrees or higher. Median annual wage: $18,850

#3 TelemarketersDepending on what you’re selling, a degree could be a leg up. Certainly a marketing degree couldn’t hurt when it comes to talking people into timeshare, siding or carpet cleaning. What’s amazing is the number of college grads that are in this line of work. 18% of telemarketers are college graduates holding bachelor’s. Median annual wage: $22,520

#2 Amusement & Recreation Attendants – This is a broad category that can cover people working at batting cages, amusement parks, bowling alleys, paintball facilities or laser tag arenas. While physics is key to the thrills of a roller coaster, operating one seems more in the wheelhouse of a student than a graduate. Yet 23.5% of amusement workers have a college degree! Median annual wage: $18,650

#1 Retail Sales – The basis of our economy is sales and everyone needs something, so it’s understandable that this is a job that’s in high demand. What’s shocking though is that one-fourth of all retail salespeople have bachelor’s degrees. Next time you’re buying a pair of jeans or sneakers, know that there’s a 24.6% chance that the person helping you is a four year college graduate. Median annual wage: $21,010

If you want to read more about the underemployment trend college graduates are currently experiencing, you can check out the entire report here. Underemployed is preferable to unemployed if you owe student loans and having any job will likely lead to less post-grad regrets! Whether you are still a student or a graduate, if you’re borrowing to pay for school, consider consulting a professional to optimize your debt to ensure you’re borrowing wisely.