The Education You Need for the Job You Want
When a major retailer announced last week that it would increase salaries for its hourly employees, many people took notice. Whether the move was a byproduct of pressure from lobbyists or unions, no one but the decision-maker truly knows. A spokesperson for the retailer stated that this long-awaited increase was driven by the desire to retain, and attract, good employees and reduce costly turnover.
This move is yet another indication that competition for jobs is fierce – and it’s also a signal that companies want to attract well qualified people – hiring for good-paying, career-building jobs. That’s good news.
So what does it take to find a one of these jobs? That’s a great question, and if we had a guaranteed solution, we could retire early.
Based on a look at some of the top employers’ most sought-after jobs, the most common denominator is a bachelor’s degree.
Among the top five employers from the Top 100 Military Friendly Employers list, a look at their websites reveals that they are actively hiring for a variety of roles: administrative, engineering, and human resources to name a few.
Let’s take a look at what kind of responsibilities are entailed, and what kind of education is required to qualify for an Office Manager position.
Administrative Roles: Office Manager
The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes these tasks as those performed by office managers or administrators regardless of the business:
- Oversee the purchasing, storage of distribution of office supplies
- Manage all administrative and clerical personnel
- Oversee the budget for contracts, equipment and supplies
- In factories, overseeing the maintenance and repair of machinery and electrical and mechanical systems.
- Office managers also often keep track of environmental and health regulations and make sure a company adheres to those standards.
Education: College degrees are not always required for entry-level roles in these positions, but in leadership roles, a bachelor’s degree is a requirement. A master’s in business administration can boost chances for promotion.
Engineering Roles: Industrial Engineer
The BLS Occupational Handbook states that Industrial engineers typically:
- Review production schedules, engineering specifications, process flows, and other information to understand methods and activities in manufacturing and services
- Figure out how to manufacture parts or products, or deliver services, with maximum efficiency
- Develop management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient
- Enact quality control procedures to resolve production problems or minimize costs
- Work with customers and management to develop standards for design and production
- Design control systems to coordinate activities and production planning to ensure that products meet quality standards
- Confer with clients about product specifications, vendors about purchases, management personnel about manufacturing capabilities, and staff about the status of projects
Education: A bachelor’s degree in industrial, mechanical or civil engineering is a must for these roles. In addition, applicants may want to become licensed so they may carry the designation PE (professional engineer). Licensure requires:
- A degree from an engineering program accredited by ABET
- A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
- Relevant work experience
- A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam
Human Resources: Labor Relations Specialist
The BLS Occupational Outlook states that Labor relations specialists typically:
- Advise management on contracts, worker grievances, and disciplinary procedures
- Lead meetings between management and labor
- Draft proposals and rules or regulations in order to help facilitate collective bargaining
- Interpret formal communications between management and labor
- Investigate validity of labor grievances
- Train management on labor relations
Education: Generally speaking, labor relations specialists usually have a bachelor’s degree in a human resources or business field with coursework in human resource management. However, the level of education and experience required can vary by position and employer.
Some organizations prefer specialists who have had coursework in mediation. There are universities and colleges who offer labor relations certifications, as well as a number of professional associations that offer coursework and supplementary certification programs.
The next step is to evaluate your own competencies and interests. It’s important to know where your expertise can be best applied, and where you may need to seek additional education, training or credentials. Do your qualifications make you well-suited to the type of jobs employers offer? If not, education is often the best first step toward reaching your career goal.
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