Top career paths beyond the hourly job

To get promoted, hourly workers need more skills and experience. But should you go back to school or continue working to learn more skills and get experience?

The final post in the LinkedIn research series with Snagajob looks at how long it takes to get promoted in hourly work and which careers are available to workers who get more education. These factors can help you decide if and when it makes sense to leave your hourly role.

Become a manager – promotion wait time varies widely by employer type

The time that it takes to get a promotion matters. A promotion boosts your pay, but it also gives you more responsibility and training, which can lead to future promotions.

Hourly employers in beverage, crafts, and furniture get promoted to manager positions the fastest – within two years on average. Whereas workers in telecommunications and casual dining get promoted to manager positions the slowest – taking over three years, on average.

Some restaurants promote in as little as 15 months or as long as three and a half years, but the spread within each category is much less. So for example, you can expect all pizza shops to promote around the same time. This consistency is likely due to large chains dominating the restaurant industry and having standardized promotion tracks.

Fastest to Promote

Think about where you are in your job and how far you might be from a promotion. For example if you work at a casual dining restaurant and are looking for a promotion ASAP, moving to a fast casual restaurant may be a faster way to reach your goal.

Or let's say you're six months into your job at a clothing store. If you can't afford to wait the approximate two years to promotion, talk to your manager about which skills you can learn now to speed that up.

Go back to school – many hourly workers invest in higher education

Getting a promotion is one way to advance your career; going back to school is another.

In our first post we saw that about half of hourly workers have a high school education or less. Since we know college graduates earn twice as much as non-college graduates it's not surprising that so many hourly workers go back to school.

Of the hourly workers who pursue education after starting their hourly job, approximately three quarters get Bachelor's Degrees or above and one quarter get Associate's Degrees.

Choose a field – healthcare, IT and engineering are increasingly popular

In looking at what these workers study, we found that while business is most popular, healthcare, IT and engineering are growing the fastest. Hourly workers commonly study the arts, social sciences and communications too, but these fields are losing popularity.

Higher Education

These patterns likely reflect the increasing demand for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills in our economy, and the higher pay that comes with them. They also indicate the growing need to care for our aging population. As you think about furthering your own education, consider these trends when deciding what to study.

Land your next job – common careers after going back to school

Once hourly workers have more education, they go on to a range of careers. We looked at the job choices corresponding to the top fields of study and found that hourly workers become everything from accountants to marketers, medical assistants to lab technicians, and IT consultants to software developers.

Below are common jobs hourly workers take after going back to school. For ones that interest you, learn more about them and consider the studies and degree that can prepare you best.

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Whether you stay on for a promotion at your current job or go back to school, hourly work can set you up for a number of career-advancing opportunities. For more inspiration, search LinkedIn profiles for your job title to see where people like you end up, and search and apply for jobs that interest you. Also check out the Alumni Tool to find alumni from your school and in your field who can give your guidance. Finally, look out for LinkedIn Salary, a new tool that helps you make career choices based on salary information.

That's a wrap

Through our research with Snagajob we got to know hourly workers and their basic demographics. We looked at factors to consider when getting an hourly job, the top skills needed to advance, and common career paths beyond hourly work.

Consider sharing these findings with your manager or employer to have a conversation about your own career. We hope you'll be able to make better decisions and reach your professional goals.

Methodology: We analyzed Snagajob's job application activity to its top 142 employers over the past three years. This was comprised of 120 million+ applications by 20 million+ hourly workers. We then examined the millions of LinkedIn profiles with common hourly job titles to understand career progression trends in hourly work.

The results of this analysis represent the world seen through the lens of LinkedIn and Snagajob data. As such, it is influenced by how members choose to use the site, which can vary based on professional, social, and regional culture, as well as overall site availability and accessibility. These variances were not accounted for in the analysis.