Not every girl is destined for a 4-year degree, and not every girl destined for college enrolls in the fall semester right after high school graduation.

Using myself as an example, I elected to enlist in the military and attended college upon re-entry to civilian life, after the rubber band factory fiascoandminimum wage jobs in building supply sales were boring and I suffered a last minute disqualification from the PA State Police Academy - not because of my excellent exam scores but because the vision in my right eye was 2/10 of a fraction below the allowable standard. I guess they were afraid I would lose my glasses in a Jean-Claude Van Damme moment and be at a disadvantage.

I was upset, it hadn't been an issue for the Federal Government, why should it be for Pennsylvania? Whatever..

Let's see... sell roofing and paneling or come home permeated by the odor of fast food deep fryers. COLLEGE!

Since then the cost of living has increased significantly and consider this about the near future:

  • Thirty-seven percent of all jobs in 2018will be for workers who have either ahigh school diploma or incompletehigh school education with some on the-job training. This number is downfrom 72 percent in 1973, 44 percent in1992, and 41 percent in 2007.
  • Of the thirty-seven percent of jobsfor workers with high school or less by2018, only one-third of these will paythe lower limit of the MET definedas $35,000 per year or better, onaverage.
  • These better paying opportunities forworkers with a high school diplomaor less are in male-dominated fields.More than 80 percent of the workforcein Manufacturing; Architecture andConstruction; and Transportation,Distribution, and Logistics is male.

MET is Minimum Earning Threshold - an absolute poverty-based definition of the earnings level that equals 150percent of the Federal Poverty Limit (FPL) for a family of four. It can also be considered as the wage level necessary to enter into the middle class. You definitely wouldn't want to try to raise a family on minimum wage - $15,080.00, how could you possibly?

Workers with an Associates degree or better will generally earn above the MET threshold. 54 percent of workers with an Associates degree and 69 percent of workers with a Bachelors degree earn above the MET. A graduate education guarantees above MET earnings to over 80 percent of recipients. -Forecasting Demand for High School Through College Jobs 20082018

What does that leave for girls who elect to not complete high school or attend post-secondary education?

  • They can opt to enter one of these male dominated fields that hire GED/HS diploma candidates and live a hard, knuckle-bleeding, completely unglamorous life.
  • Stay home living with you and work flipping burgers for spending money.
  • Find two other people in the same situation, pool resources and live communally.
  • Try to find a good wage earning mate, get married and start having babies young.
  • Enlist in the military like I did - clearly not everyone's cup of tea.

Which one of those sounds ideal?None, they should all get a 4-year degree.Well, that's not realistic, it isn't for everyone and there are certain occupations that still offer a living wage without hefty student loan debt and timecommitmentleading up to earning it.

The highest paying jobs for workers with some college/no degree or an Associates degree are in Business, Management, Administration, Manufacturing and Healthcare. Examples of specific jobs and salaries include:

  • Generaland operations managers, $71,000 with an Associates degree
  • Accountants and auditors, $42,200 with some college but no degree
  • Office and administrative support staff, $36,100 with an Associates degree
  • Computer, automated teller and office machine repair technicians, $43,200 with an Associates degree
  • First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers and repairers, $61,000 with an AA degree
  • Licensed practical and vocational nurses, $36,500 with some college and no degree
  • Radiologic technicians, $50,500 with an Associates degree
  • Occupational therapists, $37,100 with an AA degree

Moving on to marriage as an option - I wouldn't count on it for providing a standard of living statistically speakingand from personal experience. The institution has been declining for years due more than 50% of marriages ending divorce, more unmarried couples living together and increased job prospects for women. Younger people are choosing to delay marriage as they struggle to find work and resist making long-term commitments in the recent recession. Remember, you can't control your partner but you can control your career!

As a parent or caregiver of a junior high girl I hope you are not counting on school to provide 100% of career exploration and discussion. Typically, most schools start way too late and none of them devote enough time to it.

If you know a teen that is considering dropping out of school or seems uninterested in career exploration or the pursuit of some form of higher education I hope this post has provided a fame work for some talking points to have a heart to heart discussion. Life is tough for so many reasons, failure to plan should never be one of them.

Here are some no-cost resources to help:

Exploring Career Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- 2010-11 Edition

O*NET Interest Profiler

CareerPerfect Work Preference Inventory

InSight Values / Work Characteristics Inventory

KTS-II Personality Type Testand then read about how it relates tofinding and excelling in a career that fits you.

How are you supporting the teen girls in your family, neighborhood, scout troop, etc. with their career exploration? I want to know!


P.S. Yes, this post is about girls but the general theme and resources can be used to help anyone.


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