Using O*Net Online to consider wage and employment trends

For many, the Great Recession was a Great Awakening, as we realized that employers could not, and would not, provide long-term security. Companies shed hundreds of thousands of loyal workers every month and entire occupations disappeared, some to never again return. This forced millions of workers to consider new occupations. The critical consideration is, for what occupations do your skills suggest you are qualified? There are two other equally critical considerations:

1. Is the occupation viable in terms of wage or salary? Does it pay enough to meet your necessary expenses?

2. Is the occupation viable in terms of number of opportunities?

Career One Stop, linked to O*Net Online, gives valuable information to help answer these considerations.

On O*Net Online, find your state to open the Career One Stop

On O*Net Online, find your state to open the Career One Stop

Assume you want to be a Typewriter Repair Person. Entering “Typewriter Repair” in O*Net Online, you select “Home Appliance Repair.”

Scroll to the bottom and find “Wage and Employment Trends.”

Enter your state (or, the state where you want to live) and click “Go.” This opens the Career One Stop page for this occupation.

Scroll halfway down the page, and find “State and National Wages.

This gives the range of wages typical for this occupation. The Median income means that half of companies pay more than this wage, and half of companies pay less. It does NOT mean that any given company will pay a wage on this range. I recommend looking at the 25th percentile (You have completed a spending budget, correct?) and ask, “Does this wage cover my expenses?” If it does not, then you must either have a plan for additional sources of income to make up the difference, or choose another occupation.

On the Career One Stop, examine the Wage and Trends for your occupation

On the Career One Stop, examine the Wage and Trends for your occupation

Next, look at “State and National Trends” and find two numbers: the Percent Change, and the Projected Annual Job Openings for your state. The Percent Change should be a positive double-digit number, suggesting that the occupation is growing. If you are fortunate enough to find a job in a contracting occupation (negative, or single-digit growth), you are at risk of this occupation ending, and you will soon be searching for another new job.

Be aware that double-digit growth of a very small base still means few projected openings, as is the case for Home Appliance Repair.

O*Net Online identifies “HVAC Installers and Mechanics” as a Related Occupation for Home Appliance Repair. Following the links, the 25th percentile wage is $37K annual ($18/hr), with over 400 projected openings per year. I might encourage our Home Appliance Repair Person to instead consider how her skills qualify her to pursue an HVAC opportunity.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

I want to hear from you. Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below, and let me know what you think!

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