By Jeff Gillis & Mike Simpson

Most people will never ceremoniously leave their job in the same dramatic fashion and “flair” as Jennifer Aniston’s character Joanna in the 1999 hit movie “Office Space,” flipping her boss the bird one last time as she departs the restaurant that made her miserable. Joanna likely embarked on a new job search, as many Americans do every day (but in less dramatic terms).

With the current U.S. unemployment rate standing between 3% and 4%, not including people who aren’t actively seeking work, there is more job security than in years past. But while the job market is strong, the need for employment can lead many to take jobs that are readily available – not necessarily the ones they want.

As a result, it’s important to know which jobs require high amounts of experience versus ones that only stipulate certain schooling prerequisites. Whether it’s due to hating a job or simply desiring a change in scenery, we aimed to look at earnings over a variety of jobs to learn which occupations can be pursued without experience.

To do this, we examined the Occupational Requirements Survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Keep reading to see what we found.

Best of Both Worlds: High Pay, No Experience

Job security in the U.S. is the strongest it has been in the past two decades, indicating large growth, low layoff rates, and an optimistic forecast for people seeking work, especially those looking to switch industries or try something new due to choice or necessity.

Jobs in the sweet spot, meaning positions not requiring experience and still paying high salaries, were mainly centered on nursing and education, with the exception being police patrol officers, who landed at No. 3 on the list.

Secondary and special education teachers had the highest percentages of jobs that don’t require work experience, and they earned a median annual salary of around $63,000 to $64,400. Teachers have been historically and painfully underpaid, and this issue has become a point of contention for those who defend the role educators play in our society.

However, while many of these jobs, such as teaching, don’t require experience, they do require education, licenses, certifications, and more to be eligible. Pharmacists, for example, must obtain a doctoral degree in Pharmacy (Pharm.D) to enter the workforce, plus have passing grades on the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) and other benchmarks even to be considered. According to the BLS, pharmacist jobs paid the most, on average, and roughly 64% of positions required no work experience.

Zero to 6+ Years’ Experience: Differences

Let it be known, though: Gaining more experience in a given field can definitely give you the upper hand at your place of employment – especially when it comes to negotiating salary.

The largest jump in potential earnings occurred between those with two to three years’ experience and those with four to five years of experience – in fact, employees could expect to make an average of 66% more when they crossed the four-plus-year threshold. And among this experience group, we tended to see more managerial positions.

Working toward a pay raise (and the responsibilities that come with it) can be daunting, and those with less patience may not be willing to stick around that long. Staying at one job can be tough, and there is a valid argument to support “job-hopping” or the act of bouncing from job to job to earn a higher wage. Possibly due to lack of employer loyalty, many seeking a raise would rather set up an interview at a new job and leverage higher earnings than sit down with their current boss to discuss a wage increase.

In many instances, chief executives were the highest level at a company, so this gave us insight into the average wages of top earners. Chief executives with six-plus years experience earned quite a hefty salary, on average, at $200,000. Not surprisingly they land on many highest paying jobs list you’ll come across. So it stands to reason that wages scale higher with more experience, especially when it comes to senior-level and executive roles.

Low-Earning Jobs: Less Experience, But at What Cost?

In many cases, employees don’t need ample work experience to earn a fair wage; however, low-experience jobs with high supply tend to stay toward the bottom of the earnings scale.

Cooks, stock clerks, and packers had the highest percentages of jobs with no work experience requirements, but only expect to make less than $30,000 annually.

In fact, many jobs listed here offered less than $30,000 in the way of salaries, a lower-than-average threshold for jobs with high availability. Even further, according to federal estimates, six of these jobs offer salaries that put jobholders under the national poverty line for a family of four, currently sitting at $25,750 per year.

A major outlier on this list is teaching, with four teaching positions earning into the $60,000 range. However, the methods that BLS uses to calculate wages rests on aggregate estimates and average earnings. Teachers who earn more per year can skew the numbers, and teaching certifications and schooling warrant higher wages than some other professions on this list that don’t require any education.

Additionally, teacher wages fall under a wide range of totals, especially when it involves their starting salaries. The average starting salary for a teacher in America is currently $39,249, representing a wide net that starts on the low end at around $31,000 in Missouri and capping out over $50,000 in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

Experience Necessary

Don’t get comfortable, though: Many jobs require experience before you can even step into your role.

And for occupations with higher percentages of jobs requiring experience, a person can expect, in time, to make at least $59,000, on average, according to the BLS.

Many of the occupations included in this list contained keywords like “supervisor,” “administrator,” and other management positions. Managers have faced scrutiny over their higher wages, and while some may assume the role is less intensive, supervisors typically have to make hard decisions – which demands more experience to effectively make the right choices.

Municipal fire fighting and prevention supervisor positions required experience 100% of the time when hiring. But it makes sense, as high-risk positions such as this one need someone with the knowledge to handle the job.

Other jobs on this list were in the computer sciences, with roles such as computer systems analysts, software developers, and network and computer systems administrators, demanding experience in at least 90% of job listings.

How Much Time Is Enough to Learn the Job?

Generally speaking, jobs with lower levels of experience required tended to be in industries such as food services, nursing, and hospitality, with the top positions likely found in restaurants, cafes, hotels, and retail. In fact, food servers, cashiers, and maids required just a few months of work experience, on average.

One field that warrants special attention, though, is home nursing and health care. These positions don’t require years of learning the tricks of the trade and they are becoming increasingly important as the aging baby boomer population is rapidly reaching the point of being reliant on medical care. Paired with an ongoing labor shortage, some of these positions (since they have a high demand) will pull many seeking work into this industry.

On the other end of the experience scale, chief executives and those working in architecture and engineering generally required more years of work experience, with some job seekers spending 8 years or longer getting where they wanted to go!

How to Find the Best Jobs That Don’t Require Experience

For some, a job may represent a chance to thrive in a dream position. And for others, it might just be a stepping-stone to get to the next career path.

But finding a balance between a job that doesn’t require you to sell your soul and a role that pays well can be tough.

So as the workforce changes and adapts to the needs of the market, it may be time to switch work hats. Looking for a job but not sure where to start? Head over to The Interview Guys to stock up on interview tips, tricks, templates, and more to help you secure your next career move regardless of experience.

One good article to start with might be our popular: Easy Jobs That Pay Well.

Methodology and Limitations

The data used in this project came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Requirements Survey and May 2018 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. From the Occupational Requirements Survey, the three data tables used were 00107, 00108, and 00114. The first one, 00107, provided data for the mean days of work experience needed. The latter two data tables provided data in percentages. The Occupational Requirements Survey provides aggregate data for the past three years: 2016, 2017, and 2018. The May 2018 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates data uses median to calculate wages. The salary data does not convey starting salary for the related occupation, but rather an overall median wage for all wages in that occupation. It is important to note that while some occupations require less experience, you might still have educational requirements that come prior to entering the workforce.

For the graphic titled, “Making More Money Sooner,” this list was determined by taking the average percentage of occupations with jobs that require no work experience and the median salary. The occupations that fell above both these averages were the occupations explored in this graphic.

The data have not been statistically tested.

Fair Use Statement

The job hunt is not easy, and neither is putting together this research. Feel free to share these findings far, wide, and in your professional circles (as long as it’s for noncommercial use). We love to be cited for our work, so be sure to link and mention us whenever sharing this data publicly.