Hey there college grad! Are you ready for a new chapter in your life? Are you excited about getting your dream job? Do you have any questions about what it's like to embark on your new life.
You're probably looking for advice, and we get you. Every college grad has questions about what steps to take in their new life.
Luckily for you, we have the answers to some common questions you might have as you leave the comforts of college for the unknown working world.
This is the best time to set yourself up for success, and we all want to do our best not to blow it.
Life as a College Grad
Life as a college grad involves a lot of changes, some good, some not so good. When you finish college, it seems like you have to have everything figured out.
It's okay not to have all of the answers.
As a recent college grad, you shouldn't have to have a plan for your entire life. Life will throw a lot of curveballs at you, and you have to take them in stride.
Graduating from college is an amazing achievement, and it's worth celebrating!
You finished your education. Now you're ready for the next chapter.
Our first piece of advice:
Before you plunge into the "real world," enjoy your last moments as a student.
You're Not a Kid Anymore
Chances are, you've been a legal adult for a while now. That's not what we're talking about here.
In the US, college students can still be considered dependents. Now that you're a new college grad, you're no longer considered a dependent.
You have to find a job, pay bills, and manage your home and personal life. Not to mention chart your career course, and change it as you go.
It's a lot to handle, but you can do it!
There's truly been no better time to be a recent college grad than now. We have the internet, and you can figure out anything with a few clicks. You can learn about anything from how to cook a meal to how to change a tire.
For younger graduates, there are certainly plenty of things you need to know to be an independent adult. Even if you are 28 and have been living on your own for 10 years, life after college is way different.
Basic, practical advice is what you need.
One of the biggest hurdles you will face is getting your first position. Another big decision to make is where to live. Then there's managing your money.
We all dream of that "adult" life: a full-time job, living on your own, and saving for the future.
College Grad Reality
Even if you don't have a full-time job and your own place, don't stress. Plenty of students graduate, move back home, and work a series of part-time jobs before starting a "real" career.
Avoiding Failure to Launch
You're ready! You've worked hard for that degree and now, the job market is a wide open sea of possibility.
A sea, which like the real one, makes no guarantees you'll catch anything -- let alone what you want.
Here's what I mean:
Landing a job as a college grad can be difficult. Many jobs require experience, but not many college grads have experience.
But don't let your lack of experience keep you from applying for jobs! Not every position requires years of experience, so you can probably find something.
And, any experience is better than none. You may not be able to find a job in your dream office, or even in your own field.
That's ok, it's all steps towards getting where you want to be.
Keep in mind:
It might take time to find a job as a college grad, and it can take even longer to find your dream job. So the earlier you get started, the better your chance of finding a job within a reasonable amount of time.
There are a few things you can do to speed up the job hunt. Let's look at some ideas for how to land a job as a college grad.
Look at Your Phone for a Couple Hours...
We live in a digital age, so the first place to look is probably the first place you thought of. There are quite a few jobs online. There are many different job boards including Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn.
Here's what you may not have realized:
One benefit of these websites is that you can create an account with your resume. When you apply for a job, the website can use your resume, and that will save you a lot of time.
Here are some other places to look online:
You can also find jobs through professional organizations and your university website.
If you can't find anything through those websites, you can also do a Google search. The best way to do that is to type in your desired position, followed by the word "jobs" to find a variety of open jobs.
The internet is an excellent place to find jobs, and you don't even have to leave the house.
job search statistic
Online job searching and applying have doubled since 2005.
Actually Talk to Human Beings
Seriously, ask around.
One of the most underused ways to get a job is to ask. Ask your current or past professors if they know of any openings. Reach out to family and friends, even if they're not in your industry.
This is also called "networking." And, yeah, there's a right way to do it.
It's pretty easy, really:
Just mentioning that you're looking for a job can be a great way to find a job you would never have found otherwise. People know people, and people will want to help you find the perfect job. Don't be afraid to take advantage of any connection you have.
If you're still on campus, you can stop in your school's career center.
Many schools have a place dedicated to finding jobs, preparing for interviews, and polishing your resume. Your college career center can be a great resource, and many of them are open to alumni.
Don't Wait, Start Early and Reap the Benefits
One mistake that too many college students make is waiting until they graduate to apply for jobs. Don't do this!
Even if you still have a few months left in school, start applying now.
Starting early will give you more time to apply to jobs. It will also give you enough time to go through the application and interview process before you have been out of school for long. That way, you can hit the ground running with a job soon after graduating.
If it's too late to start early, it's not the end of the world:
If you're out of school, it's not too late to apply for jobs, but the earlier you start applying, the better.
There is one positive to starting after you graduate:
When you're out of school, you have more time, so you can put more energy into your applications. Just don't put off job searching any longer.
Create a LinkedIn profile! It's an easy way to build your network and increase your exposure to potential jobs.
Control What You Can, Multiply Your Options
There's no way to guarantee you will get a job.
That's just part of life. And, it's not something you can control every aspect of.
But you can control how many jobs you apply for.
The more jobs you apply for, the better your odds of getting at least one of those jobs.
Here's the best way to multiply your options:
Set a goal for a number of applications per day or week. Or set aside a certain amount of time per day or week to apply for jobs.
Just as you scheduled in study time as a student, it will be easier to apply for jobs if you make time to do so.
How often should you be applying for jobs?
Companies list new jobs each day, so the job market won't be the same from day to day. If you apply to jobs every day, you will find new jobs with every search.
This leads into the next tip...
Don't Be So Stubborn!
When you first start applying for jobs, you will probably stick to jobs in your dream field. That's okay, but not everyone gets their dream job right out of school.
Of course, you should apply to jobs in your field. But you should also be open to other jobs. Unfortunately, it can be tough to get a job if you don't already have a job.
So, stop being so stubborn and be flexible.
If you don't find success with jobs in your industry, open your search to other jobs. Yes, it really stinks to have to apply for jobs you don't care about. However, you can't live off of student aid and savings for long.
You're not "too good" for any job.
No one likes it, but starting out is tough, and that can mean taking a job that doesn't match your industry or experience.
Around a third of college graduates are considered unemployed which means they work a job that doesn't pay as well or has as many hours as a "regular" job.
Don't have a skill? Don't list it on your resume.
When you start applying for jobs, be honest. Don't fill your resume with experience and skills you don't have. Some employers can see right through that.
And for the employers that don't?
Think about it:
You don't want to take a job and then, six months in, get assigned a translation project because your resume said you were fluent in Mandarin.
Or be handed a spreadsheet that you have no idea how to use with instructions that read like Greek.
They see through you then.
And it gets worse:
Explaining why you were fired from a job after a short amount of time, or moved to the mail room, to your next employer is going to suck.
Since you're a new college grad, many employers will understand why you don't have a ton of experience.
Yes! List every single experience and skill you have relevant to the job for which you are applying.
Just make sure you're truthful.
Take Advantage of Your Free Time
Speaking of experience and skills, you can use your free time to build your resume.
Remember all those clubs in highschool, and volunteer hours to use for your college applications? It works in the real world, too.
If you want to work with animals, volunteer at an animal shelter, or local rescue.
Future teachers can take on babysitting gigs, or work at a daycare, volunteer at summer camps or any position that works with kids.
That's not all:
You can also spend some time learning a foreign language or improving your writing skills.
Once you get a full-time job, you won't have as much time to pursue other interests. So even if your interests don't add to your resume, enjoy the time you have now.
A transferable skill is a skill that you can use in different jobs or fields. Some skills, like computer programming, are specific. But other skills, like writing and teamwork, apply to almost any job.
Warning: Read the Job Description, Seriously!
This should be obvious, but there are many reasons why you should read the entire description of every job you apply for.
Here are a few of those reasons.
- Know what you're getting yourself into
Job descriptions list all of the responsibilities for the job. If there's something you really don't want to do, you can pass on a job now instead of after getting hired.
- Hidden instructions
Many employers know that not everyone reads the job description. To see if you read through everything, some companies will include application instructions in the middle of the job description.
- Reading between the lines
Get a feel for the company's vibes. Some employers will add a bit of personality to their job description. This is a great way to see if you would work well with the company.
Don't weed yourself out of a job by skipping over the instructions hidden in the job description.
Here's another benefit from reading every word you may not have considered:
One of the best things you can do as a job seeker and new employee is read and follow the directions. Even if a job description doesn't have specific instructions, reading the description can tell you a lot about the company and the job.
Your Resume Needs Your Attention
If your resume isn't up to date, you need to change that before you start applying to jobs.
But, that's not all:
Make sure it fits the job you're applying for. If you want a job in marketing, highlight your marketing experience. Your summer job at the local juice bar shouldn't take center stage.
Your resume shouldn't be one-size-fits-all:
And if you have a couple of ideal job titles, create a resume for each of them. Fit each resume to the job, and that way, you don't have to constantly change your resume for each application you send.
If you've never created a resume before, start simple.
Yes, Your Cover Letter Can Hurt You
Your cover letter can make or break your application. The last thing you want is to submit a generic cover letter with every application.
Or, be lost in the sea of applicants that all used a generic cover letter.
Writing a cover letter for each application sounds like a lot, but it's an excellent way to personalize your application.
If you write a cover letter for each application, you can mention the specific job or company. That also allows you to relate your experience to the particular job.
There are plenty of cover letter templates you can follow, but you want to make your cover letter unique. Writing a unique cover letter not only helps you stand out, but it's also a great way to show a bit of your personality.
A cover letter is the perfect place to sell yourself. If you don't fulfill all of the requirements, you can include why you should get the job.
You Finally Landed an Interview! What Now!?!
Once you apply for a job, the next step is getting an interview. If you make it this far, you need to be prepared for the job interview.
First things first: Breathe!
Job interviews can be intimidating because you have to answer different questions. You don't always know what questions the interviewer will ask.
Not to mention, it feels like your whole future hinges on this single moment.
How can you prepare for the nerve-racking interview?
Here's what you need to do:
Do Your Homework! (Again...)
Once you schedule, it's time to do some homework.
You may be thinking, "but homework is for students!"
Yes, you probably had a lot of homework in college, but this homework is different. You want to prepare for your interview.
The first way to prepare is to research the company.
One of the most common interview questions asks why you want to work for that specific company.
You can't answer that question if you don't know anything about the company.
Even if you don't get that interview question, you should still know the basics of the company you are interviewing for.
You may be interviewing for an accounting position. Sure, accounting jobs don't vary too much, but the company could have an effect on the type of work you will do.
And, there's more:
Understanding the company's purpose or mission allows you to get a better understanding of the job. Understanding the culture of the company helps you in many ways, like, are they strictly dress-coded? Is your interview outfit way over-, or way under-dressed?
Know a Bit About the Job
Once you research the company, you can research the specific job. You should know what your day-to-day will look like.
If you know a bit about the job, you can go into the interview with more confidence because you aren't entirely clueless.
Yes, you want to get a job, but you don't want to waste your time interviewing for a job that might not be right for you.
It's better to realize a job isn't right for you now rather than after getting hired.
Job interviews can be scary, but you want to stay calm. The interviewer understands that you are probably nervous. If you can stay calm, the interview won't feel as stressful.
Nailing the Look
Where you have an interview might help you decide what to wear.
Here's the secret:
No matter what job you are applying for, you want to look nice.
As a college grad, you don't have to have a full professional wardrobe, yet. However, you should have a few nice pieces for an interview.
The Ground Rules
- Don't wear your tattered jeans or shorts
- Skip the graphic tees and the university spirit wear
- Put on a nice top and a nice pair of slacks
- Make sure you wear nice shoes
Make the Clock your Ally
No one likes an employee who arrives late. As we mentioned, the interview is your first chance to make an impression on the company.
And, you are going to make one, so enlist your clock as an ally to make a good one.
If you show up late to your interview, that can give the company a bad impression of you.
On the other hand, showing up early, indicates that you're interested in the position and you care about making a good impression.
Not to mention... traffic happens. Planning on being there early will allow you to avoid getting lost while trying to find the office.
And then, to park. And then, to find the right place in the building, and then...
It's just a really great idea -- planning to be on time may leave you late, sweaty, flustered and leaving a negative impression of yourself.
Put the Phone down
Your GPS is a great tool for finding a job interview. However, don't forget to focus on the road. If you get lost, pull over and then pull out your phone.
Be Prepared to Do More than Answer Questions
The interview is a two-way street. Not only is it the company's chance to learn about you, but it's your chance to learn about them.
We mentioned that you should know a bit about the company before the interview. That comes into play here, because you can narrow down your questions.
Here's the secret:
You won't have to ask basic questions about the company. That's because you did your homework and now know that basic stuff.
Instead, you can focus on more detailed questions like the hours, paid time off, and other benefits.
Having a few questions in mind can also show that you prepared for the interview since you want to know more about the job.
About that First Impression
We can't stress enough how important your first impression can be. For that reason, you want to be yourself.
Keep it real. Just don't be your "party" self.
You don't want to get a job for being fake. If you act fake, you might feel pressured to keep that up during your time working there, and that can get exhausting.
Not to mention, the employer is looking for a person that will fit in well with them. You want who you are to fit in well with your employment.
Of course, you shouldn't be rude or unprofessional. Be nice, and be yourself.
If a company doesn't want to hire you for you, then you don't want to work for that company.
The Interview isn't Over, Even When it is
Once you leave the interview, you don't want to leave it in the past. One of the best ways to make a great impression on a company is to follow up after your interview.
It's simple to do:
Within the next day, send an email or leave a voicemail for the person who interviewed you. Many interviewers will give you a business card, so don't throw it away.
Use your follow up to score some bonus points...
Address the person by name, and share something you enjoyed about the interview. Thank them for their time. One thing you don't want to forget to do...
Yes, while on the phone. A smile can be heard in the voice, it changes the shape of your mouth and thus how you sound. If you want to sound warm, smile while speaking.
Following up with a company will remind them that you're interested in the job, and it puts you back in their minds as an applicant.
Down the Road with Dollars and "Sense"
As a new college grad, you probably don't have a ton of money in the bank. And if you don't have a job, you will have to live off of what's left from your student loans, grants, and savings, until you get one.
If you are lucky enough to find a job right away, chances are it's not going to be at the top of your salary goals.
If you know how to manage your money, your life will be much less stressful.
Whether you have a job or not, there are a few things you can and should do to set yourself up for financial success from college grad to retiree.
First Consideration, What About Those Graduation Gifts?
As a college grad, you will probably receive some graduation gifts.
Some of those gifts will likely be cash or a check. If you're lucky enough to receive some money for graduating, save that money.
Don't spend it on the first thing you see. Especially if you don't have a job lined up, you never know when you will need that extra cash.
Even if you do have a job, that money can help you start saving money for the future.
It can also begin your first emergency fund.
Speaking of which:
Emergency Prep Starts in Your Wallet
This is another way you can use your graduation money. You never know when you will have an extra expense. That could be getting sick, losing a job, or getting into a car accident.
Here's the truth:
Emergencies will happen, eventually, to all of us. Hopefully, you will never have to use your emergency fund. But you want to make sure the money is there if you do.
Some important considerations:
Make sure you keep your emergency fund in a regular savings account where you can access the money at any time. Now, you shouldn't go into that account unless it's an actual emergency.
Pizza emergencies are not real emergencies.
Stuff happens, and you need to be prepared for whatever might come your way. An emergency fund is the perfect tool for saving for unexpected costs.
Ignore That 401(k) at Your Own Peril
Once you land your first full-time job, ask about investing in a 401(k). A 401(k) is a type of retirement savings account.
You may not want to think about retirement, but you should. It's never too early to start planning for retirement.
But, it does get too late to save enough really fast.
Any money you put into your 401(k) doesn't face taxes like your take home-pay. So a 401(k) is a great way to lower your taxes and save for your retirement.
Also, many employers will match your contributions to your 401(k).
That's basically free money...
So take advantage of that.
If you end up working for yourself, you can invest in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). This is another type of retirement savings account for individuals.
You won't get employer matching, but you can take it with you no matter where you work.
Be Strategic About Where You Live
Not all cities and homes are created equal.
Before you choose where to live, there are a few things you should consider.
Home is... Your Decision
As a new college grad, you probably aren't tied down to any one city or town. You have the freedom to stay in your college town, move home, or move somewhere new.
You may also move back in with your parents.
So what should you do?
Consider your situation, and then take a look at when and where you should live as a college grad.
"Home" May be Your Best Bet, Here's When
Moving home can seem like a step back, but it can be an excellent option for some college grads. If you don't have a job lined up, you shouldn't be spending a ton of money on rent.
Moving in with your parents can allow you to save money even if you do have a job. You won't be spending a ton of money on rent, and you can split your food expenses with your parents.
If your hometown has a good job market, then you'll be in a great place to find a job.
You can move to your hometown without moving back home. If you find a place on your own, living near your parents can make life as a college grad a little easier since you can call them with any questions or problems you have.
When to Stay in Your College Town
If you live off campus, your apartment lease might not expire until the end of the summer. That's a great excuse to stay in your college town and look for local jobs.
And if your college town has a great job market for your field, then you should have no problems finding a job.
When to Move Somewhere New
You might be tired of your college town and equally tired of your hometown. Or maybe neither of them have a great job market for your industry.
Both of these things make great reasons for moving somewhere new after graduation. You can explore a new city, and hopefully find a job in your field. Just make sure you follow our previous tip about being strategic with your move.
Start Your Career and New Life Off Right!
As a college grad, you will get tons of questions on everything from your career to your living situation. And it's okay if you don't have all of the answers.
You don't need them all right now.
However, there are a few things you can do to make your transition from student to graduate go more smoothly.
Applying to jobs and preparing for interviews is a lot easier said than done. But if you do your research, you can set yourself up for success.
Then there's where to live. Your living situation will probably depend on your job prospects. If you're strategic about where to live, that can help your job search.
Of course, we can't forget managing your money. If you start saving for an emergency and for retirement now, you will be more prepared to tackle what life throws at you.
Whether you are a non-trad or traditional student, "adulting" doesn't have to be scary. A bit of preparation and planning can do a lot of good.
Get out there and make a future for yourself!
Meta Description: Before you choose between completing high school and obtaining a diploma or leaving school early and getting your GED, there are differences between the two you should be aware of.
High school can be a difficult place for some people. The social pressures, academic rigor and large class sizes can overwhelm even the most gifted student. Bullying is a real issue. The pressure to conform and fit in can take away from the primary objective of attending four years of school: an education. There are many reasons students consider dropping out ahead of obtaining their diploma. Some of these students do wish to continue their education and go on to successful careers. These students plan on earning their GED in place of graduating with a diploma. Getting a GED is the equivalent, right? Before deciding to drop out, it's a good idea to know the differences between a GED vs. a high school diploma.
What Is a GED?
The GED, or General Education Diploma (or General Education Development,) is an aptitude test that covers the essential elements learned in high school: math, social studies, science, reading aptitude, including literature and the arts, and writing ability. The test is multiple-choice except for the essay portion. Like other standardized tests, each of the five sections is scored separately, and the scores are combined to give an overall rating. There is a minimum cumulative score the test-taker must receive to pass it and obtain the GED. If passed, the GED certificate signifies that the student met high school graduation academic requirements. Only official testing center offer the test, and only on specific testing dates. Online testing is not an option, and any website purporting to do so is a scam. The only thing you can do online for a GED is study. Don't confuse those online prep courses with the actual GED.
How and Why Was the GED Created?
The history of the test goes all the way back to the 1940s. It was first created to provide an educational opportunity for returning World War II veterans. Many of them enlisted young and did not have the chance to go to school. Thus, the GED allowed them to get the necessary education requirements to continue forward to college. The basic premise was to give undereducated people a path to better themselves academically and eventually, vocationally. Through the first four decades of its existence, the GED served people who wanted to better their lives. While the test has evolved over the years, the fundamental principle behind taking the test has remained the same: self-improvement. That primary reason has continued for the last 80 plus years.
Who Can Get a GED?
There are some basic requirements to meet before obtaining a GED:
- Must take the GED test at a certified testing center and receive a minimum passing score
- Must not be enrolled in an educational program, such as high school
- Must not already possess a high school diploma
- Must be over the age of 16
If you meet these requirements, you will be able to get your GED. While there is an age requirement of 16 years old, there is no age limit. As long as you don't have a high school diploma, you are eligible to get a GED.
What Are the Limitations of a GED?
The leading thought may be that a GED and high school diploma mean the same thing While they both prove you have mastered necessary high school education requirements, they are not equal. Consider the following information before deciding to leave school early.
The purpose of the GED for many is to have a pathway to college. While this still holds true, certain things are limited if you have a GED. For starters, some of the more prestigious four-year colleges and universities place more weight on those who have obtained a high school diploma. It doesn't mean that you won't be able to get into one of these colleges, but you may need to take a different path. If you have a GED and want to attend a college that doesn't necessarily put much weight on your certificate, attending a community college and transferring to a university is probably your best option.
For those colleges that do accept the GED, know that you may have to get more private loans because financial aid options are limited for those who didn't graduate high school. While there is no exact reason for this, according to statistics compiled over the last two decades, people who enter college with a high school diploma account for 85 percent of all financial aid recipients. That leaves a measly 15 percent for those who have a GED or some other type of equivalent (more on that below.)
2. The Military
The military is a career route that many young men and women are starting to take. It offers opportunities for those who seek direction and purpose. It can also provide resources to further your academic career through the GI Bill. However, getting into the military is easier for those with a high school diploma vs. a GED. Why is this the case? The military requires you have one or the other. Upon application, candidates get sorted into entrance tiers based on specific fundamental requirements. Tier 1 recruits have a diploma. Tier 2 applicants have GEDs or certificates of completion. If there is ever a choice to be made between the two tiers, those who fall under the first will receive special entrance over the second. Some branches of the military are more stringent than others. Recruiting officers will place even more weight on those who have a diploma.
Career options may be significantly limited if you don't graduate high school. These days, even many basic entry-level jobs require some diploma or equivalent to be considered. In a recent study, employers almost overwhelmingly hired people with high school diplomas over those with GEDs. When it came to jobs that required a college degree, this number was much closer, but still, the diploma-holders won out. As stated above, if you want a career in the military, graduating high school gives you a definite advantage over others who did not.
Why the Inequity?
Now that you've seen there is a marked difference in the acceptance of a GED vs. a high school diploma, you probably want to know why. While it's true that a GED will open many more doors than not having anything at all, it opens just slightly less opportunity than a diploma. In today's world, which places so much emphasis on education and self-betterment, why then is someone who chose to get a GED not regarded as highly as a high school graduate?
There is a certain amount of reservation afforded to someone who did not finish high school. The general stigma attached lends itself to the notion that a person who could not stay in school for four years will not be able to perform at a higher level long-term. Colleges often believe that not following through with a high school curriculum puts students at a higher probability of doing the same at a college level, where class work and requirements are even more strict and critical.
In the military, those who finished high school get considered over those who didn't, because of the same idea. They believe, as a whole, if you drop out of school, you're more likely to withdraw from the armed services. In their eyes, as in the eyes of colleges, if you don't have the capability of completing a task as important as school, you may be less likely to finish the complex and critical functions of the military.
Another thing taken into consideration is the likelihood you are troubled in some way. Maybe the reason you dropped out was that you couldn't follow the basic rules set out in school. Did you skip classes? Were you a problem in the classroom for teachers? Beyond high school, colleges, employers and the military have no way of knowing if you will continue that poor behavior in their institution. Therefore, it is best to take someone who completed high school over someone who did not.
It is this mark against the GED and those who have obtained it that is the hardest to overcome. There is a myriad of reasons why someone chooses to leave school. Sure, some of them center on maturity issues. Others may be due to health issues, either of the student or a family member that causes too much classroom time to be missed. Maybe a person doesn't perform well in crowded situations, and the overcrowding of the school made a student feel lost among the masses. The best thing you can do if you opt to take your GED is to be prepared to explain why you left high school willingly. If you do well on the test and can demonstrate self-awareness in letting colleges and employers know the reason behind your discontinuation of high school, they will be more apt to accept you as an equal to someone who has a high school diploma. Whatever decision you come to, it is crucial that you continue with improving yourself. Having a GED is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it may just help pave the way for the future you want.
Stock Photo: https://depositphotos.com/77136977/stock-photo-many-keychain-bunches-in-vintage.html
Meta Description: Are you considering the locksmith trade? Here’s what you should know about the job requirements, salary averages, and employment levels before making your decision.
Simply put, a locksmith is someone who makes and repairs locks, including the lock on a front door, a padlock for a locker, or even a safe for valuable belongings. Locksmiths train in how to build, disassemble, repair, and replace all sorts of locks, safes, and alarm systems. A traveling locksmith would be the one to help you when you lock your keys in your car, and you don’t have a spare. You could take your house key to a locksmith shop to get an extra copy made for a family member. There are many ways a locksmith can help people secure their homes, businesses, and personal items.
Locksmithing has evolved dramatically over the past few decades as technology has grown in capabilities and prevalence in everyday life. What once only dealt with mechanical objects with completely visible components now includes machines that require significant training to build and repair. This applies especially to digital locks, vehicle entry, and home security systems. The job description and possible requirements of practicing this trade have grown as the types of locks and security measures have increased in number and complexity. If you are thinking about becoming a locksmith, you need to know what the job description is and whether you have the qualifications necessary for this career path.
Locksmith Job Responsibilities
Being a locksmith is not a job that looks exactly the same in every setting. Different companies may have various tasks for their workers. What one employer requires a locksmith to take care of, another employer may separate into multiple departments or positions. However, there is a general understanding of what many locksmiths should know how to do.
- Key cutting - This is a very basic responsibility that every locksmith should be equipped to do. Duplicating keys and cutting new keys is one of the most common requests of a locksmith’s clients.
- Locking mechanism repair and maintenance - A locksmith must know how to disassemble a lock, and sometimes a safe, in order to check and repair any pieces that have sustained damage or have worn out from age.
- Locking mechanism installation - As a locksmith, you will likely be required to install a new lock system, safe, or alarm system in a residence or place of business. This may include panic or emergency systems for doors. Should an employer require you to sell locks or alarms, your knowledge prior to installation will make recommendations much easier.
- Opening locks - If someone loses a key, locks his or her keys in a vehicle or forgets the combination to a safe, a locksmith will be called to open the lock. He or she needs to have knowledge of the anatomy of locking mechanisms and safe systems, as well as the equipment necessary to solve the problem.
- Educating customers - Locksmiths should communicate what a client must do to use and care for his or her locks, alarms, or safes properly, which also makes the future responsibilities of the locksmith easier when performing maintenance or repairs on a product.
If you wish to work for a locksmith company, there will likely be more specialized responsibilities, mostly dealing with locks and safes, but if you were to serve as the locksmith to another business, your tasks would vary more broadly.
Locksmith Education Requirements and Specialty Training
Many locksmith jobs require no education past high school, but many do require a high school diploma or GED. Some positions do not need any formal education at all but instead focus on your experience in the field, setting a minimum number of years you must have under your belt with the trade. Many who pursue locksmithing learn their skills by working with someone experienced in the trade. While on-the-job training is very common, some states do require a locksmith to obtain a license to carry out certain tasks. In Nevada, a locksmith must get a license from the county authorities, and the requirements for a permit varies at the discretion of the county sheriff. 14 other states require some type of licensure, and in all of them, the licenses are issued at the state level. The states are Oklahoma, Texas, New York, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Louisiana, Alabama, California, Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, Nebraska, and North Carolina. The state of New York is unique in that a state license is required, but there are also counties within the state that require licenses from local authorities as well.
There are no shared standards across all states for the qualifications or competency required to become a licensed locksmith, so getting your license in one state does not necessarily mean you will have the freedom to practice the trade in another. However, for most states, a background check is unavoidable. Most states also require an exam to establish your skills, knowledge, or both. You may also be asked by certain employers to partake in a local course to receive certification for a specific locksmithing skill.
Locksmith Salary Expectations and Employment Options
As more buildings, whether commercial or residential, are built, the demand for security measures increases. People feel less secure now than they have in decades past and feel a greater need to protect their homes, families, and belongings. Locksmithing is not a highly pursued field of work, but as the industry grows and more workers are needed, it may be a great opportunity for those new to the trade. While the field is growing throughout the United States, not all states have equal opportunities. In fact, states differ dramatically in employment opportunities and wage averages.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a lot of information about each state in three different categories: annual mean wage, overall employment, and location quotient. The states with the best annual mean salary are California, Utah, Alaska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Manhattan, and New Hampshire. The wages for these states vary from just under $46,000 to almost $69,000 a year. Alaska is the front-runner with an annual mean salary of $68,380. This salary breaks down to an hourly wage of roughly $33. With a location quotient of 1.12, however, Alaska is barely above average. It comes in close to last in employment at only 40, which keeps it in the lowest employment bracket.
Naturally, larger states or those with a large number of metropolitan cities have the highest employment rates for locksmiths. Keep in mind that employment rates do not include those who are self-employed. The same is true for location quotients. The top one dozen states in employment are Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, California, and Washington. Texas and California share first place in employment with 1,880. Texas beats out California for employment per thousand jobs with 0.16 to California’s 0.11 but has a mean annual salary of roughly $40,400 which is about $14,000 less than California’s average salary of almost $54,500. Neither of their location quotients is impressive, with Texas at 1.29 and California at 0.92, both close to average.
Only 10 states have a location quotient at or higher than 1.25. They are Washington, Montana, North Dakota, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, New Jersey, Maine, and Rhode Island. Of these, only New Jersey and Rhode Island exceed 2.0 with 2.13 and 2.99 respectively. The annual mean wage information is unavailable for Rhode Island, but New Jersey has an average yearly salary of $44,810, which is slightly above the national average of $42,730. Surely due to the size of the state, Rhode Island has fairly low total employment at 170, but a decent 0.37 employment per thousand jobs. New Jersey’s total employment is 1,050 with 0.26 employment per thousand jobs.
Industries also have drastically different numbers in each of these areas. Investigative and security service companies provide the majority of measured positions with more than 12,500. This industry also has the highest percent of industry employment at 1.38 percent. The mean annual salary, however, is lower than the national average at just under $40,000 a year. The highest paying industries are architecture and engineering services and local governments. Unfortunately, architecture and engineering services have low employment rates at 40, but local governments come in more towards the middle at almost 400. Higher education institutions, hospitals, and building contractors also pay locksmiths a higher average salary than the national mean, all of their averages exceeding $55,000.
While the highest paying jobs in this trade will be more difficult to obtain, you can still pursue this career path with confidence. Even the lowest recorded wages exceed minimum wage, and the average locksmith job offers roughly $20 per hour. For a job that doesn’t require a college degree, these wages are impressive and well worth the time and effort necessary to obtain licenses or certifications. With on-the-job training, anyone with a desire and ability to learn the trade can become a successful locksmith.
Whether you've interviewed for a job before or this is going to be your first time, there are some things you should know. Your presentation is very important. Don't expect to land a job looking like you just rolled out of bed (this isn't college anymore). On the flipside, there are other things you need to consider besides what suit makes you look the most qualified.
What you say and how you say it are the fundamental keys to nailing an interview. While every job is different, as well as every interview, some elements are usually consistent. You will be asked some difficult questions, and if you haven’t prepared for them, you will blow any shot you have at landing that job.
Tell Me About Yourself
Whether this question is asked at the onset of the interview or after a few minutes of general chatting about the weather, be prepared to answer it. This question is typically asked as part of a factual rundown of your resume, usually as the interviewer is reading through your resume. This question is not posed to elicit a biographical rendition of every job you have listed or an explanation about how you freed a bird from an air duct once in high school. The question is used to open up a dialog between you and the interviewer. It is a walkthrough of the basic facts you've included in your cover letter and resume. It is crucial that you know how to answer this question. The interviewer is looking for relatability between your past experiences and this position. Touch on relevant work or skill experience. If you had a job at a fried chicken place while you were in college, and you are currently interviewing for a position at an advertising agency, don't talk about that job. The exception to this is if something you did or learned at that first job put you on the path to getting this one. For example, if you were asked to design a logo for the owner and you did, that would certainly apply here. Be sure you are able to talk about yourself in this way before sitting down at the table.
Give Me A Time
There will be at least one question where you are asked to give a specific time or example of when you went above and beyond what you were expected to. You should look at your most recent job or related experience for this example. If you are interviewing for your first job ever, use an example from school. Whatever scenario you choose, it needs to be all about demonstrating that you can talk about an instance when you contributed something more than you were expected to make something happen. For example, if you were an administrative assistant and you took it upon yourself to spearhead a project to create a company policies and procedures handbook for new hires, that was something you were not expected to do. Talk about how successful it was, how difficult it was and name some obstacles you faced in completing the task. Was there a deadline that was difficult to meet? Did you have to delegate to others and monitor their progress as well?
There is a follow up to this question that you need to be cautious about: "Name a time where you went above and beyond but did not get the desired results." If an interviewer asks you this question, he or she is trying to gauge how self-aware you are. How will you answer this question and not come across as being arrogant? Don't make the answer part of a blame game. For example, if you did decide to create that policies and procedures manual only to have it rejected outright by the company, don't just point fingers at others you feel were responsible for the failure. Even if that is true and it was someone else's shortcoming that caused the project to fail, take responsibility and ownership of the failure. Talk about how you didn't have a chance to supervise someone else as carefully as you should have, or you didn't proofread the finished project as closely as you should have. Hiring managers want to know you accept that you have opportunities to grow as an employee and a person. Being flawed and making mistakes is quite common. It is the recognition that you can make adjustments that prospective employers want to hear. It is a big red flag if you cannot find any fault within yourself. Hiring managers are less likely to hire someone who feels perfect and unable to take course correction or opportunities to improve.
Who Was A Favorite Supervisor?
This question is also in the category of self-awareness and requires you to answer three distinct questions. The first of the series is, "Who is your favorite supervisor or boss, and what characteristics do they have that you wish to emulate?" This should elicit fond recollections about someone who really took the time to help you grow and who taught you how to be successful in your past position. The follow-up questions: "If I called that person, what would they tell me about you?" Now the interviewer is asking you to think about that supervisor's opinion of you. Surely you haven't chosen to speak about someone who didn't like you and would not say good things about you. The answer to this should be a resounding yes, go ahead and call and here's why. Now list all of your positive qualities and skills you developed or utilized under the tutelage of that boss. The final question is the one that will throw you for a curve: "What is something you hope he/she doesn't tell me about you?"
An interviewer is, again, looking to see if you recognize your shortcomings. There is a good chance that you were not a perfect employee and while you were a great one, there were one or two things that your boss would have preferred you did differently. Maybe you weren't as organized as he or she wanted you to be, and your organizational system consisted of piles of documents with sticky notes to separate them. Perhaps you weren't great at taking notes at a meeting and had to rely on your recollection or go back and ask for information to be repeated. Be sure to let the interviewer know the truth about what your little areas of opportunity to improve are. Again, this makes you seem human, trainable and above all else, honest.
Where Do You See Yourself?
There is typically some variation to this question asked towards the conclusion of the interview, but it has to do with your understanding of the job and the growth you are looking for. If you are interested in continuing to grow within the company, this is your time to discuss it. There are a few items to be aware of as you prepare for this answer:
Research the Company
You need to have a basic understanding of the company's structure. Take time before to look into a growth path from the job you're applying to all the way up.
If the level you want to grow to has a realistic timeframe of two years, don't tell the interviewer you plan on reaching that level in one. This kind of response shows your lack of preparation and knowledge of the company structure.
The last thing someone interviewing you wants to believe is you don't want to take a real interest in this current job. Using one position as a stepping stone to another is fine in terms of growth, but giving the impression that this job is "good enough" for now until you get the next is a definite turn-off for a prospective employer.
Ultimately, the answer to this question should be a resounding, "I see myself with your company and here's why." Get your personal experience and skills in line with the company's, and convey your want, desire and enthusiasm for using your strengths to benefit the company.
There are many uncertainties when you walk into a room to interview. Will the hiring manager be someone who is relatable? Will there be more than one person? Will they like me and think I'm good enough? The key to having confidence is preparation. Know what you can about the company well in advance. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses in general, so you are ready, willing and able to talk about them. Be confident that you possess the skills and enthusiasm to fill this position. Emphasize your strengths while always being mindful of your weaknesses, or opportunities to grow and learn. If you are prepared and able to answer these tough interview questions, your chances of being hired will go up. Remember to always above all else be yourself. Your best self fits that company. Make sure to let that get the job for you.
Meta Description: Considered experts in the events of the past, historians dedicate their careers to researching all there is to know about a historical area. These go-to resources often find employment within colleges and universities, with most job positions in the field requiring a master’s degree or Ph.D.
Whether just entering into adulthood and deciding on an education and career path, or seeking a complete job overhaul in mid-life, adequately researching fields that spark your interest is the key to making a wise choice. If you would enjoy turning a love of history into a paying gig, you should explore the job of a historian. Read on to learn more about this fascinating career option and gauge if it might be a good fit for you.
What Is a Historian?
Regarded as experts and persons of authority when it comes to the events of the past, historians study, interpret and write about history. Historians, both professional and amateurs alike, enjoy digging deep to immerse themselves and learn as much as they can about historical events. They are then generally enthusiastic about sharing their extensive knowledge with others. These people are considered go-to resources when someone seeks detailed and accurate information about the past.
It has long been a human desire for people to understand their past and share their narrative with others. In fact, some of the earliest known historians trace back to ancient Greece. Although the field has clearly been around for quite some time, and there has long been a need for history experts, the modern historian profession didn’t begin to take shape until the late 19th century. The field grew alongside the rise of German research universities.
What Does a Historian Do?
Although there can be a wide range of responsibilities from one historian to the next, a large number of professionals in the field go to work at colleges and universities. These are the institutions that employ roughly about 70 percent of working historians.
The Higher Education Connection
When working in scholarly settings, professionals will oftentimes find their time divided between several different roles. Most will spend at least some of their time teaching students or will fill positions within the school’s history department. Outside of teaching, historians working in higher education will likely dedicate time to extensive research. This research generally leads to authoring books or articles focused on their specific areas of expertise.
Speaking of areas of expertise, it can be difficult to pinpoint what exactly each historian does day-to-day because there is such a wide variety of specializations to choose from. For example, as a professional historian, one could elect to dedicate their studies and become an expert on a certain country, region or time period. There is any number of history concentration options, such as ancient history, US history, women’s history and African history, just to name a few. In fact, there are so many focused areas you could choose to study that there simply isn’t enough space here to possibly discuss them all.
Historians with a concentrated specialization are certainly expected to be experts in that particular focus area, but it is also assumed they will possess a broad knowledge of and interest in other historical information. No matter the chosen specialization, historians study as many historical written records as they can find. They interpret and create narratives based off of the information they gather and then piece together those findings to form a complete picture of events.
The Career Path of Historians
There’s no doubt that to become a historian, you must enjoy research and the constant learning and growing of your knowledge base. If becoming a professional in this field is your ultimate goal, there is a clear educational path to follow to make your future dreams a reality. As you’ll see, although you will strive towards earning multiple degrees in order to find work as a historian, learning will remain a constant for you in this field, even long after your own schooling has come to a close.
Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree
Future prospective historians generally choose a major or focused area of study in history or another closely related field. Many students will double down on a highly specific area of history studies when they enter graduate school. If you have the option, you could benefit from adding in specializations as an undergrad.
Also, use this time for taking advantage of internship opportunities. Strive to seek out chances for learning practical skills directly from experienced professional historians while gaining invaluable hands-on experience. Soaking in a depth of knowledge and experience at the undergrad level will prove to be a fruitful use of time when applying for graduate school.
The Master’s Degree or Ph.D.
While you could choose to hit the brakes on continuing with higher education after earning a bachelor’s degree, this will likely leave you only qualified for some entry-level positions or for work in a different field. If your goal lies in becoming a professional historian, following your bachelor’s with an advanced degree is a must. No matter if working in a college or university setting as many historians do, or in related fields such as historic preservation, museum studies or public history, just to name a few, you’ll find that having a master’s degree is a requirement. Earning your master’s, or graduate degree, could get your foot in the door to work at the college level as a researcher or professor. If you have your sights set on a tenure-track university position, however, you’ll find yourself needing to strive for your Ph.D.
This is the time when, if you haven’t already, you’ll narrow down your focused and specialized field of study in which you will become an expert. You’ll find that the areas of research you could choose are nearly endless. Examples include world, European or American history, but varied options abound.
During this era of your studies is an exceptional time to take advantage of graduate assistant positions. Doing this work will reward you with the benefits of honing your research skills and gaining the experience of instructing other students.
Begin the Job Search
Upon graduation, you may have luck finding a position at the college or university where you received your education. If this isn’t the case, definitely utilize any career services offered by your school in conjunction with your own job searches. Whether or not you have assistance in your career hunt, great institutions to check out include other colleges or universities, governmental organizations and museums.
Don’t overlook the importance of networking when conducting the search for a new job. Seek out events held by historically-affiliated establishments, including conferences and lectures. These are great opportunities for meeting other professional historians, or individuals with similar interests, who may either be in the position to offer you a job in the future or may connect you to someone that can.
The Research Continues
While for many working professionals, completing their education and landing the perfect job means that they can take a breather and solely focus on work, continuous learning and research is the bulk of the work for a historian. You’ll find that most occupations that allow you to work as a historian in a professional capacity require you to research continually, learn and likely publish documents. The goal for many in the field is to distinguish themselves from the rest in their particular area of expertise.
Historian Job Options
As previously mentioned, the most common career track for historians is to become a researcher or professor in a university setting, but these certainly aren’t your only options. Museums are also a frequent employer in the field, generally hiring historians for such roles as:
- Education officers
- Exhibition officers
Your search need not be limited to schools and museums, however. There are plenty of varied careers in which your history studies will prove useful:
- Inspector or conservation officer for historic buildings
- Academic librarian
- Writer or editor
- Information manager
As with most professions, there can be quite a wide range of salaries from one job to the next. Historians have reported earning roughly between $28,000 and $103,000 per year, with the median wage falling around $59,000. You could expect that the lower end of the pay spectrum may refer to some entry-level positions, while the higher end may reflect the pay of historians with many years of experience under their belts. You can expect that your salary when stepping into a position will greatly depend on your accrued expertise and completed education level.
Whether just starting down your professional path, or choosing to make a career change, you may find yourself well-suited to the job of a historian if you have a strong desire and interest in keeping the events of the past alive in the minds of others. If talking about history and proving your theories correct brings you pleasure, then this career where you never stop researching and learning may hold your interest for years to come. When it comes down to it, if the idea of following this career path excites you, and if you’re ready to commit to several years of studies and degree-earning, then it may be in your best interest to start scouting out colleges and universities with strong history programs.