Careers

The 10 best and worst entry-level jobs of 2018

Systems engineer configuring servers in data center.
baranozdemir | Getty Images
Systems engineer configuring servers in data center.

As summer nears, students across the country are searching for their first "real" jobs, and as many will soon find out, not all entry-level jobs are created equal. Salary, long-term career opportunities and stability can vary greatly according to position and can shift year-by-year according to industry trends.

WalletHub analyzed 109 of the most popular entry-level positions to see how these first jobs j stack up. The personal finance site assessed jobs based on 13 metrics (such as median annual salary, projected job growth and flexibility) in three categories — immediate opportunities, growth potential and job hazards.

Check out the best and worst entry-level jobs of 2018:

Best entry-level jobs

Architect Carol Wilson works in her office.
Joel Page/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Architect Carol Wilson works in her office.

10. Architect

Total score: 71.33
Immediate opportunity ranking: 16
Growth potential ranking: 8
Job hazards ranking: 60

9. Industrial engineer

Total score: 71.79
Immediate opportunity ranking: 26
Growth potential ranking: 23
Job hazards ranking: 37

8. Certified nursing assistant

Total score: 72.54
Immediate opportunity ranking: 18
Growth potential ranking: 48
Job hazards ranking: 29

7. Electronics engineer

Total score: 74.03
Immediate opportunity ranking: 25
Growth potential ranking: 18
Job hazards ranking: 14

6. Health, and safety engineer

Total score: 74.29
Immediate opportunity ranking: 20
Growth potential ranking: 15
Job hazards ranking: 37

5. Web applications developer

Total score: 74.52
Immediate opportunity ranking: 19
Growth potential ranking: 28
Job hazards ranking: 20

4. Hardware engineer

Total score: 75.44
Immediate opportunity ranking: 14
Growth potential ranking: 35
Job hazards ranking: 37

3. Electrical engineer

Total score: 78.40
Immediate opportunity ranking: 9
Growth potential ranking: 32
Job hazards ranking: 14

2. Engineer

Total score: 78.76
Immediate opportunity ranking: 5
Growth potential ranking: 16
Job hazards ranking: 37

1. Systems engineer

Total score: 78.90
Immediate opportunity ranking: 2
Growth potential ranking: 23
Job hazards ranking: 37

Worst entry-level jobs

Workers polish a wing leading edge at the CPI Aerostructures Inc. manufacturing facility in Edgewood, New York, U.S.
Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Workers polish a wing leading edge at the CPI Aerostructures Inc. manufacturing facility in Edgewood, New York, U.S.

100. Sheet metal mechanic

Total score: 42.90
Immediate opportunity ranking: 108
Growth potential ranking: 72
Job hazards ranking: 56

101. Refinery operator

Total score: 41.23
Immediate opportunity ranking: 103
Growth potential ranking: 83
Job hazards ranking: 64

102. Automotive mechanic

Total score: 40.14
Immediate opportunity ranking: 52
Growth potential ranking: 73
Job hazards ranking: 102

103. Aircraft painter

Total score: 39.40
Immediate opportunity ranking: 89
Growth potential ranking: 99
Job hazards ranking: 84

104. Building inspector

Total score: 38.95
Immediate opportunity ranking: 104
Growth potential ranking: 95
Job hazards ranking: 62

105. Tool and die maker

Total score: 38.85
Immediate opportunity ranking: 78
Growth potential ranking: 96
Job hazards ranking: 100

106. Carpenter

Total score: 38.55
Immediate opportunity ranking: 44
Growth potential ranking: 70
Job hazards ranking: 103

107. Boilermaker

Total score: 35.34
Immediate opportunity ranking: 93
Growth potential ranking: 69
Job hazards ranking: 103

108. Floor assembler

Total score: 34.89
Immediate opportunity ranking: 109
Growth potential ranking: 84
Job hazards ranking: 66

109. Welder

Total score: 33.54
Immediate opportunity ranking: 56
Growth potential ranking: 100
Job hazards ranking: 103

The job of welder ranked last on WalletHub's list due to a relatively high occurrence of occupational injuries and decreased demand for welders. Systems engineer, by contrast, was ranked the best entry-level job of 2018 thanks to a strong immediate growth ranking. Several other engineering roles cracked the top 10, including electrical engineer, hardware engineer and industrial engineer.

Elisabeth Giglio, Director of Career Development at Bard College, however, says that applicants need to go beyond analyzing starting salaries and job growth predictions and do some hands-on research of their own if they want to find the perfect first job.

"Some companies are explicit in their job descriptions regarding how they support their team members, such as offering trainings or management development programs," she tells WalletHub. "For many jobs, however, I think you may need to find out during the interview if it will be a good fit. In an interview ask about employee longevity at the organization, opportunities for growth and how the organization supports their employees."

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