Before you borrow for college, you should do very thorough research on salaries in your field or fields of choice. While not every student will know exactly what he or she wants to study before enrolling in school, it is a good idea to at least have an idea about some careers that interest you - and what you are likely to make after graduation. College isn't cheap these days and most students need to borrow to meet college costs. If you are borrowing without any idea of what your means will be to pay your loans back, you could get yourself in trouble.
For example, you may be interested in becoming an electrical engineer. According to the RI Department of Labor and Training (DLT), the average entry level salary for someone in that field is $34.84 per hour. An experiened electrical engineer averages $53.89/hr. Or say you would like to become a chef. The average entry level salary of chef or head cook is $17.10 per hour while an experienced chef will make around $28.71/hr.
Someone who is planning to make $34.84/hr after graduation may have the means of borrowing a little bit more than someone who is expecting to make $17.10/hr.
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In addition to salary, you should also pay attention to job growth and unemployment rates. While it is important to pursue something that interests you, you should not ignore how practical a job might be in that field. Will it allow you to reach your goals outside of your career? Will it allow you to live on your own, or will you have to live with your parents? Ask yourself these questions and be honest with yourself about the answers and what you are and are not willing to do after college in order to meet your obligations.
The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training offers information that can help you with your research. For example, on their website, you can search mass layoff information, labor market information, and other employment information.
For example, according to the DLT, the industries expected to add the most jobs between 2008 and 2018 are listed below:
Industries Adding the Most Jobs
|Professional, Scientific, & Technical Services||6,332|
|Ambulatory Health Care Services||4,358|
|Food Services and Drinking Places||3,193|
|Nursing & Residential Care Facilities||2,876|
|Administrative & Support Services||2,649|
|Specialty Trade Contractors||1,557|
|Management of Companies & Enterprises||1,201|
|Internet Service Providers, Web Search Portals, & Data Processing Services||1,156|
|Credit Intermediation & Related Activities||941|
|Wholesale Electronic Markets & Agents & Brokers||862|
|Religious, Grantmaking, Civic, Professional & Similar Organizations||804|
|General Merchandise Stores||681|
Manufacturing and telecommunications are among those industries considered to be declining.