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Everything You Wanted to Know about Entry-Level Work

Each year, millions of Americans will go on the job hunt to find an entry-level position. Many will be first-time graduates. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that 3,968,000 students will be awarded a degree of some kind in the 2019-2020 academic year. Others will be seasoned professionals who want to make a transition into a different field. It's estimated that the average person will change careers 5-7 times over the course of their lifetime.

If you're searching the job boards and reaching out to people in your network, chances are you've already discovered that securing your first job in a new field is a process that involves many ups and downs. To help you uncomplicate the process a little, we wanted to take some time to dig deep into entry-level work and discuss the basics as well as things you can do to increase your chances of receiving an offer.

What Is an Entry-Level Job?

Let's start by defining what an entry-level job actually is. While some fields may define entry-level work differently than others, the general idea is that an entry-level job requires minimal professional work experience and enables someone who is just starting out to get their foot in the door.

Entry-level work is great for young professionals and individuals who are transitioning to a new career because it enables them to gain professional work experience and be trained in the skills necessary to move up the ladder.

Additionally, employers benefit from hiring entry-level workers because they can identify new talent and reduce the amount of basic work completed by seasoned employees. This allows those career veterans to focus on higher order priorities while new employees are able to learn the basics they'll need to know if they want to be successful in that field.

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What Do I Need to Be Considered for an Entry-Level Job?

As you search through job listings, you'll notice that every entry-level job will have different requirements, in regards to experience and education, in order to be considered for the position.

Entry-Level Jobs that Do Not Require a College Degree

Entry-level positions for some fields, like retail and hospitality, do not require a college education or related work experience. Employers in these fields will provide the training necessary to complete the basic tasks associated with the position.


Entry-Level Jobs that Require a College Degree

Traditional entry-level work will require a college degree and some non-professional work experience, like an internship or volunteer work. These types of entry-level positions are usually seen as the first step in a wide variety of fields, including finance, healthcare, and accounting.

In some cases, a company may post a position that it considers entry-level, but requires a year or two of professional work experience in addition to a college degree. Oftentimes, smaller companies with tighter budgets may look for candidates who can get started in the role with minimal training and mentoring.

How Much Do Entry-Level Jobs Pay?

Compensation for entry-level work will vary depending on a wide variety of factors, including the industry, the company, and the location. In 2019, the average salary for an entry-level position in the United States is $39,444. While negotiation typically isn't an option for entry-level offers, it's a good idea to review what the average salary is for an entry-level position in your field and city so you know what to expect.


Sample Entry-Level Pay by Position

  • Paralegal: $53,743
  • IT Consultant: $56,466
  • Accountant: $40,525
  • Customer Service Representative: $30,688
  • Sales Representative: $47,434
  • Software Developer: $57,485

The easiest way to figure out how much you should expect to be compensated is through resources like Payscale and Glassdoor. You can also review job listings, which sometimes do provide salary information.

Getting Hired in Specific Industries

If you haven't had the chance to read our article on the job recruitment process, we encourage you to check it out. It outlines the basic steps of the recruitment process as well as tips for getting an interview and standing out among other candidates.

When it comes to job requirements and recruitment processes, every industry will have different standards. For example, in the past two years, as many as one million tech jobs have gone unfilled. In response, tech companies have been expanding their talent search to candidates with liberal arts degrees or no degrees at all. It is very possible to get an entry-level IT job or entry-level programming job without a degree if you have the skills and certifications to show you can handle the responsibilities of the position.

However, in other fields, getting an offer for an entry-level position will require having a degree, some internship experience, and a strong application and interview. Review job postings to get an idea of who's hiring and what they're looking for in a candidate.

And don't be afraid to reach out to people in your network! See if they know of any open positions in the field you want to work in. Experts say that as much as 85 percent of open positions are filled through networking.

Tips for Breaking into a New Career


While many entry-level positions are filled by recent graduates and young professionals, a growing number of mid-level professionals are seeking out entry-level jobs as they attempt to make a transition into a new field. If you are one of the many career professionals out there who want to break into a new industry, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Your Motivation: If you don't like your job and think a change is in order, it's important to gain a clear understanding of what you want so you don't end up in the same situation a few years down the road. Think about what you want to do and whether a career change will actually make you happier in the long run.

Your Skills: When you have decided on a field and career trajectory, it's time to do a little research to see what it will take to break into the field. Will you have to go back to school or earn certifications? This may affect your timeline and ability to leave your current job. As you look for entry-level jobs to open the door to a new field, consider ways you can market yourself to show how your experience and skill set could be beneficial to an employer. It may help you stand out among other candidates who don't have your unique background.

Your Network: Don't be afraid to reach out for perspectives and advice from other people. When asked respectfully, most people are more than willing to share their thoughts and insights. Build and assess your network as it is an invaluable resource in your job search. You might be surprised by who is able to help you land that first job in a new role.


Can a Staffing Agency Help Me Find an Entry-Level Job?

If you are just out of college or want to switch careers, it can feel daunting to know where to start and to whom you should reach out to. Staffing agencies can help candidates find entry-level work that will lead to future opportunities down the road. A staffing agency builds partnerships with local companies to help them find qualified matches for their open positions.

A staffing agency can also provide you with the latest job openings and help you narrow down your search, so you can head in the right direction and, hopefully, land a job. Openings listed by staffing agencies will include temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct hire placements. While not the only route to finding an entry-level position, staffing agencies have helped many candidates get started on their career paths.

Staffing Services In Greater Philadelphia

J & J Staffing Resources is a professional staffing agency that connects local businesses to job seekers throughout the Greater Philadelphia area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

We bring over 45 years of expertise in office, industrial, technical, and professional staffing placements as well as payroll management, and offer a wide range of services for both employers and job seekers.

Need help? J & J Staffing has offices in Newark, Bridgeport, Woodbury, Cherry Hill, Ewing, Princeton, Langhorne, and Horsham. Visit your local J & J staffing center or get started below.