Career Clusters

Released: November 14, 2011

Anthony P. Carnevale - Nicole Smith - James R. Stone, III
Pradeep Kotamraju - Bruce Steuernagel - Kimberly A. Green

Executive Summary | Full Report | Press Release | State Data | Media Coverage

Note: The Full Report and State Data have been updated since the original release of Career Clusters. You may find a list of errors that have been corrected here.

The best pathway to the middle class is through a postsecondary education, but not everyone goes directly from high school to college. Are those who enter the workforce directly from high school doomed to work minimum wage jobs? In Career Clusters, we examine which sectors of the labor market afford individuals the best route to a middle class income. Using forecasts, we identify the most promising clusters for job seekers with a high school diploma or less, middle skills such as a certificate or Associate's degree, and those with Bachelor's degrees or better.

Here are several key highlights from the report:

  • While jobs for workers with high school diplomas are in decline, they still exist.
  • Jobs for middle skill workers (jobs for workers with some college, a certificate, or an Associate's degree) will make up 29 percent of the workforce by 2018.
  • Manufacturing will continue to decline in total employment, but retiring Baby Boomers will create 2 million job openings.
  • The gender gap in wages varies greatly from cluster to cluster. For example, the gap in Architecture and Construction is $2,000; in Health Science, it is $69,000.