Jobs to Avoid


Since the husband is a professor at a local university – and I used to be as well before taking this position at Character First Education – we have the opportunity to regularly interact with students, not only as they progress through school, but oftentimes after graduation. When the alums drop by our house, sometimes with spouses and children in tow, they like to share about their lives. We hear many stories about job successes and failures, and what the experience is like to be dumped out onto the job market quite suddenly upon degree completion.

If there is one piece of advice that we hear most frequently it would be this – yes it is important to major in something you like, but you don’t have to LOVE it; and it is more important to get a degree in an area where you can actually find…wait for it…a job. After all, student loan debt continues to grow every year, and if you graduate with no good prospects, you could find yourself in a heap of trouble starting about six months after you walk across that stage and into the “real” world.

So, while you might be interested in the basket weaving capabilities of the ancient Mesopotamian people in the fertile crescent, you might want to, for the sake of expediency, develop a second interest in something that can help provide an income for such luxuries as…eating, for example.

Think of it this way…you can certainly spend as much auxiliary time as you would like delving into the subject of interest, but you need to tool yourself to find something to pay the bills, at least until you develop the reputation as an expert to be able to support yourself doing what you truly love. It is not a denial of your passion, but rather an acknowledgement that not all passions lend themselves to being able to materially undergird the type of life you want to lead. It is also not materialistic or greedy to want to be able to support yourself and your family in a way that allows you to enjoy life at the level you desire. You need to eat, clothe yourself, and have a place to live, and while you might really enjoy quilting, you probably aren’t going to be able to purely and truly pursue this as a career until you reach a certain level of “street cred” in that area. Believe me, I would have done this already if it was possible….

So, when deciding on what to degree to pursue in higher education, it is important to consider three things:  Can the jobs this degree qualifies me for, support me and my family? Is there a closely related degree that might provide for my life, but at the same time help me make progress toward pursuing my passion? What jobs “out there” are currently in decline or, like the dinosaur, plodding their way toward extinction?

The first of these questions, we have discussed above, but let’s take a quick look at number two. If, for example, you want to ride bicycles on the pro circuit, you might want to consider a degree in business or accounting so that you can take a position in a local company or perhaps even start your own bicycle shop. Or, you might look into sports medicine, or athletic training, both of which would not only give you access into the world of competitive cycling, but also allow time for you to work on your own fitness and preparation for competition. Flower arranging would be the same – a degree in business would help you start your own business, or one in horticulture, could help you get on with a nursery until you could branch out on your own.

The third question, however, is a bit trickier. It can require a bit of crystal ball gazing and speculation. One place to start is to consider which entry-level jobs in the area you are considering are the types that will eventually, if not soon, be replaced by technology or address areas of life that are changing? After a quick internet search, I found these to be a general consensus of jobs that you might not want to pursue, or at least have a good back-up plan if you do, because of the ease of replacement by technology.

According to Forbes magazine (the article can be found here:, the top 20 disappearing jobs include:  Farmer, Rancher, Agricultural Manager (the family farm is all but disappearing and technology and big corporations are hastening the decline); Postal worker (automation in addition to the decline of printed mail); Sewing machine operator (robots sew faster and don’t eat as much); Switchboard operators (yes, apparently this is still a thing – at least for the next week or so); Fast food cooks (automation hastened by the rise in the expenses of employing a real person); Agricultural workers (machinery is becoming better at taking care of even more persnickety types of crops); Data entry (scanners and technology); Word processors and typists; Door-to-door sales and street vendors; Food service managers; Electronic and electrical assembly; File clerks (who uses paper anymore?); Press technicians (the decline of the printed word); Computer operators; Postmasters and superintendents; Office machine operators; Textile and garments; Florists; Refinery workers; and Loan agents. Another article I read also mentioned IT experts. While many of these do not require education, some are entry-level type work for people who graduate with degrees that do not automatically qualify them for employment in their area of interest.

So, while majoring in something exotic might be more exciting or interesting, a good solid degree in an area where there is a high probability of finding gainful employment might get you further along the road to pursuing your passion.

blog comments powered by Disqus