10 Ways To Improve Your Career By Age 30

Nearly 13,000 people were asked in a recent poll what they prioritize in a job. The poll found that people overwhelming ranked pay and personal well-being over such factors as job security. Moreover, according to the new report, there are steps young people can take to increase their chances of obtaining a good job by age 30.

The report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce names 10 ways to improve career outcomes for young adults with varying educational aspirations and at different stages of their career development. A team of CEW researchers developed and used what they call a “pathways-to-career policy simulation model.” Their recommendations, however, vary depending on a person’s plans for attaining higher education, plans for technical training or years of work experience.


What was the greatest takeaway from the report? In most cases, CEW clearly solidifies that obtaining a bachelor’s degree is still the number-one route to improving career opportunities later in life. For example, the report finds 3.6 million young adults are now college-aged and enroll in college expecting to get a bachelor’s degree, but for various reason they do not by the age 26. Data from the report shows if these individuals complete a bachelor’s degree, 573,000 more young adults from this cohort would have a good job by age 30.

However multiple scenarios for different career plans are established in the report, many of which do include obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Researchers in this circumstance indicate career outcomes were greater for young people when they work continuously from ages 20-22. A better job outcome was more likely for workers in STEM-related job of some kind as opposed to a low-paying job. The report found for workers in low-paying jobs, a better outcome is more likely for those working a blue-collar occupation.


Comments from the CEW director and lead author Anthony P. Carnevale indicate that while the data proves some interesting points about higher education, it’s not all that simple. A bachelor’s degree is still the most traveled pathway to a solid job, but the research indicates there are other options through career and technical education (CTE) during high school and through work experience, he writes in a new release. However, the report notes rather crucially that the efficacy of each pathway depends on a person's race, gender or age.

“Pathways to good jobs are especially strengthened through comprehensive policy efforts that layer effective interventions on top of one another,” Carnevale says.

It is not as easy as extending any of the pathway opportunities to every individual, according to the report, because it can widen the gaps that already exist in the workforce around diversity and inclusion. A change that professionally boasts one demographic group, on the other hand might not benefit another group.

For example, the report finds specializing in CTE in high school increases the likelihood of having a good job by 30 for white and Black young adults, but the pathway reduces that likelihood for Hispanic young adults.

Opportunities and resources for education or work eligibility are so often more available to white young adults than they are for Black or Hispanic young adults. At the same time, women are less likely to improve their career by increasing their education because as a whole, women already have higher average levels of education than men. And with the exception of STEM jobs or other high-paying jobs at age 22, nearly every career pathway mentioned in the report has potential to put more men over women in good jobs at age 30.

Co-author of the report, Zack Mabel, writes that addressing disparities that hinder access to good jobs requires eliminating bias and discrimination widely in the labor market. He says this includes directing investments toward individuals from historically marginalized backgrounds or disadvantaged groups. He says wages should also be raised in undervalued occupations that are mostly filled by workers from marginalized groups.


The report, called What Works: Ten Education, Training, and Work-Based Pathway Changes That Lead to Good Jobs, was funded by a philanthropic donation from JPMorgan Chase & Co.

In his role overseeing the department of Jobs and Skills for JPMorgan Chase & Co., Mathew Muench says they are focused on creating a more equitable labor market.

“As both a funder and employer, we see immense value in pathways that bring more people into good jobs and thriving careers. Georgetown’s research is critical in revealing how career pathways are most effective when they support individuals across multiple stations of that journey—whether it runs through college or another route,” Muench says in a news release.

A “good job” is defined by CEW researchers as one that pays about $38,000 in 2020 for workers younger than age 45 and one that pays $49,000 for workers aged 45 and older. According to the report, it focused on a workforce of 30-year-olds nationwide that make a median salary of $57,000, with one-fourth of group earning less than $46,000 a year and one-fourth of the group earning more than $76,000 a year.

Don't Miss More From the CEW: New Ranking: Business Graduate Degrees That Definitely Pay Off.

& For More on Salaries & Jobs: Survey Reveals 69.8% Of Workers Ready To Quit Without A Raise & New Data: College Students Won’t Take Less Than $72K For Their First Job

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.