A Job Hunter’s Guide to the Best Entry-Level Jobs in 2020

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By Robert Half December 6, 2019 at 6:45am

Knowing where and how to take that first step into your career can be daunting — but you have to start somewhere, right?

Landing one of the best entry-level jobs in your chosen field can help you develop vital work experience and launch a long-lasting professional journey. And the higher-paying ones can start you off on a stellar salary trajectory.

The wrong ones, though, can lead you down blind alleys and slow your career path.

You’re bound to have questions as you plan your first steps, most notably about salary potential. That’s just one area where the 2020 Robert Half Salary Guides can help.

Our guides — and the professional recruiters who contribute to them — are among the most respected sources for starting salaries and hiring trends. They break down pay levels into percentiles, representing every stage of a professional’s career.

The 25th percentile, or entry-level starting salary, fits most introductory positions, as these job candidates are typically still developing their skills. Some candidates may reach closer to the 50th percentile, or midpoint salary, if they have extensive experience through internships and extracurricular activities related to the position or industry.

Keep in mind that these are national salaries and will vary depending on your location. Our Salary Calculator can show you ranges specific to your city.

Of course, compensation isn’t the only consideration as you look for the most promising entry-level jobs. What basic knowledge, education or skills are required? Which roles are most in demand? Where can a particular role take your career?

Each starting point presents different opportunities, so let’s explore the possibilities with 15 of the best entry-level jobs out there.

Read on to learn more about each of these hot entry-level jobs:

1. Web developer

From e-commerce giants to mom-and-pop storefronts, all types of companies need web developers to support their online presence. This ever-present demand — coupled with a scarcity of candidates — makes web development one of the most lucrative fields for entry-level professionals. Employment for web developers is projected to rise 13 percent by 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Web developers have in-depth knowledge of internet protocols and applications, as well as a solid understanding of digital business strategy. They also have experience with programming environments like AJAX, ColdFusion, JavaScript, Soap, HTML, DHTML and LAMP. Entry-level candidates can typically earn a salary around $86,000; the midpoint salary is $104,750.

2. Data analyst/report writer

Data analysts/report writers extract an organization’s technical data in ways that make smart business decisions possible. They analyze complex data systems and document data elements, flow, relationships and dependencies. Jobs in this field are plentiful, primarily due to the rising demand for smart, data-driven solutions. Organizations want analysts who efficiently read, translate and interpret customer insights to improve service and performance.

The most sought-after candidates have quantitative and analytical reasoning skills, as well as thorough knowledge of relational database theory and practice. The 25th salary percentile for these high-paying entry-level roles is $83,750, and the midpoint sits at $100,250.

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3. Front-end web developer

Front-end web developers use code to develop appealing web- and mobile-based applications, employing markup languages to translate designs to the web and create intuitive functionality. They’re also responsible for website enhancements and routine maintenance.

Demand for front-end web developers is increasing faster than that for many other professions in the country. Factors driving this growth include an emphasis on user experience (UX) and the ubiquity of mobile devices and e-commerce. National salaries for entry-level front-end web developers can fall somewhere around a range from $67,000 to the midpoint of $81,750.

4. Visual designer

These savvy creatives generate design concepts, artwork and layouts for websites, games, kiosks, wearables and other digital projects. While visual designers work with web designers, they typically do not code. They use design software such as InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator to create eye-catching interfaces that engage users and help them navigate a site or an application.

Visual designers are in high demand, and nationally, candidates in the 25th percentile can earn $64,500; the midpoint salary is $81,250.

Check out the salary trends and skills required for a career as a visual designer.

5. Copywriter

Working at agencies and within creative departments, copywriters rely on exemplary writing skills to craft copy for websites, ads and marketing materials that conveys a client’s message and appeals to target markets. Their portfolios include work that is innovative; polished; and adheres to brand, voice and style guidelines.

Demand is especially high for these professionals as more companies invest in content marketing and need writers to create copy for various channels. Entry-level copywriters can earn salaries from $58,750 at the 25th percentile to $72,000 at the midpoint.

6. Financial reporting analyst

If you’re interested in a career in technical accounting, this may be the job for you. Working in a fast-paced environment, you’ll develop essential skills by producing monthly financial reports, interacting with customers, closing reconciliations and more. Financial reporting analysts typically have a bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting, Excel knowledge, and familiarity with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and reporting software like Hyperion. Some hiring managers favor candidates who have completed a relevant internship or have public accounting experience.

Candidates with up to one year of experience typically earn a starting salary around $51,000 at the 25th percentile and could earn a salary upwards of $61,250 in the 50th percentile.

7. Data analyst

Data analysts decipher information to help feed a company’s bottom line. They analyze complex data systems before interpreting the results for management. Required skills include familiarity with the Microsoft .NET development system, Microsoft SQL servers, Oracle and IBM DB2.

As companies attempt to manage and assess a rising volume of available information, there’s an increasing need for data analysts with analytical reasoning skills, especially in industries such as healthcare and technology. Employers prioritize candidates with a bachelor’s degree in business, finance, accounting or economics. Depending on the market and size of the firm, entry-level salaries for candidates who have a year of experience or less range from $45,500 at the 25th percentile to $59,750 at the midpoint.

8. Case clerk

This entry-level role supports lawyers and legal staff. Case clerks take on research, document review, data entry and case file management. Basic qualifications include excellent organizational skills and attention to detail and computer expertise. Candidates with knowledge of legal software and database programs are especially desirable.

Case clerks can gain deep insight into the legal support function, providing the basis for a future move up to a paralegal or legal assistant position. Entry-level salaries for case clerks range from $40,250 to $44,000 at the midpoint, depending on the market and size of the firm.

9. Accountant

Assisting with audit fieldwork, both operational and financial; balancing ledger accounts; and correcting account discrepancies make up the bulk of an accountant’s job. As these professionals move into more senior roles, they may also prepare financial statements and support month-end and year-end closes. Employers want accountants with strong Microsoft Excel, time management, analytical reasoning and communication skills — and those with public accounting experience are highly marketable.

Accountants are consistently in demand at CPA firms. These roles sometimes start as temporary through tax season and turn into full-time positions later. The 25th percentile salary, on a national average, is $39,750 for those with up to one year of experience, and starting salaries at larger firms may reach $48,500 or more at the 50th percentile. Credentials such as the CPA or advanced degrees like an MBA can push your resume to the top of the pile and net you a higher starting salary.

Read more about how to choose the right accounting career path for you.

10. HR recruiting specialist/coordinator

This role is in demand as companies focus on hiring and need entry-level HR staff to help find good job candidates. The HR recruiting specialist/coordinator posts jobs, evaluates applications and candidates, and prepares offer letters. Strong communication skills are required and can be further developed in this role, leading to more advanced positions.

Top candidates are confidential and discreet. They have excellent computer skills and interpersonal abilities. The 25th percentile salary is $38,250, and the midpoint is $44,000.

11. Document coder

This legal support position typically reports to a senior paralegal or project manager. Document coders take the information obtained in discovery and organize it by priority in case management systems. Their roles can also make eDiscovery and trial preparation more efficient. Being heavily involved in litigation support means you can learn a lot about fast-growing practice areas to take with you to your next legal job.

Skills required for this role include a general understanding of legal concepts and meticulous attention to detail. National starting salaries range from $35,500 to $40,000 at the midpoint, depending on the size of the firm and a candidate’s qualifications.

12. Administrative assistant

An administrative assistant supports multiple supervisors and other employees with a variety of tasks: creating documents, spreadsheets or presentations; fielding calls; planning team events; entering and filing data; and more. Employers look for professionals with excellent communication and organizational skills, expertise in Microsoft Office and the ability to adapt to shifting priorities.

The administrative assistant role is a great entry point into business for new graduates, as it gives candidates a broad range of office experience that can be transferable to other positions. Professionals can also build relationships with people on their team or in other departments to help them make a move when the time is right. The entry-level salaries for administrative assistants range from $34,750 to $37,250 at the midpoint.

13. Help desk support

If you want to enter the tech space, help desk jobs are a good place to start. The role helps increase your knowledge of various technologies and hone communication skills by assisting customers or other employees with technical issues. As such, the role requires excellent problem-solving abilities, as well as patience, a friendly attitude and the ability to work as part of a team. A solid understanding of relevant hardware, software and network programs is key.

Computer support positions will likely increase 10 percent by 2028, according to the BLS. The 25th percentile salary for an entry-level help desk job is $34,250, and larger companies may pay closer to the 50th percentile salary of $40,500.

14. Title closer

These professionals help seal the real estate deal. They are responsible for preparing documentation required for property sales — think mortgage documents, deeds, tax records and insurance policies. They also review these documents for issues such as outstanding liens or taxes due. Duties may also include preparing title commitments, settlement statements, financial distributions and closing packages, all of which makes this a potential launching pad to a real estate or lease administration career.

Basic qualifications for this role include a notary license and some training in real estate transactions, contract preparation, title regulations, record keeping and research. The national entry-level salary for title closers is $33,750, but candidates may start nearer the midpoint at larger firms: $42,750.

15. Project assistant/coordinator

Companies rely on project assistants to help bring projects to completion in a timely fashion and ensure the budget is respected. These professionals work with internal and external teams to run major programs, coordinate schedules and track deadlines and progress — experience that employers look for in many roles you might seek as your career moves forward.

Required skills include excellent communication and an extensive knowledge of database and project management software. Entry-level salaries range from $31,750 to $38,500 at the midpoint.

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