Entry-level jobs mark the beginning of your career, or sometimes a new chapter of your career. This level of employment enables you to enter the workforce with little experience, and if you approach it the right way, you can walk away with more skills, greater knowledge, and a better understanding of what you’ll need to get to the next step of your career.
What is an entry-level job?
An entry-level job is the most basic level of employment. Entry-level jobs do not always require specialized skills, advanced degrees, or prior experience in the field, though it depends on the job and the industry.
There are entry-level jobs across all industries, and many include “assistant,” “coordinator,” “specialist,” “trainee,” or even “entry level” in the job title.
What is entry-level experience and who qualifies for entry-level jobs?
Many entry-level jobs will require no work experience or education at all, some will require a college degree, while others still will require as much as two years of work experience. The experience required will vary by job, company, and industry.
Even though anyone can apply for an entry-level job, people very early in their careers or recent graduates typically fill these positions. Employers most frequently market entry-level jobs to younger workers since mid-level and senior-level positions generally require years of experience. Still, young workers are not the only ones who qualify for entry-level jobs. You may qualify for an entry-level job if you are:
Entering a new industry or undergoing a career change
Pursuing a new job title or function
Returning to the workforce after a long employment gap
Read more: Does College Count as Experience?
Is it so bad to have an entry-level job?
Some associate entry-level jobs with low pay, mundane tasks, and few opportunities for professional advancement—but that’s not always true. These common misperceptions about entry-level jobs may have you second-guessing just how useful an entry-level job can be, so let’s address some of the myths around entry-level work.
Myth: Entry-level jobs are a dead-end
Truth: Entry-level jobs are just the beginning! These positions actually open the door for you to become a more experienced professional in your field. Most people start their careers in some form of entry-level job.
Myth: There is no room for mistakes in entry-level work
Truth: You should take advantage of the fact that entry-level jobs often come with a lot of onsite training and coaching. As long as you are consistently improving upon your job performance and avoiding mistakes that are costly or harmful, it’s okay to have a few teachable moments on the job.
Myth: Your opinion doesn't matter
Truth: You might think that as an entry-level worker, you provide too little value to have an opinion at work—but you might have the freshest perspective of anyone on the team. As someone who’s just entering the company (and, in some cases, the workforce), you can see company issues from a new angle and provide useful feedback, so don't be afraid to speak up.
Myth: You don’t need any experience at all to get an entry-level job
Truth: While you don’t need substantial work experience to get an entry-level job, you can increase your chances of getting employed by having some experience. You can use volunteer work, paid or unpaid internships, or related coursework to get an entry-level job, which will help you stand out from candidates who have less experience.
Read more: How to List Work History on Your Resume
How to move up from entry-level
Entry-level jobs are a great stepping stone into specialized work. The key to moving up from entry-level work is to think ahead. Consider steps you can take to prepare for an advanced position. When you’re working in an entry-level job, make the effort to develop new skills and participate in team projects. You can also move up by pursuing additional education, such as certificate programs, workshops, and training programs that can help you grow as a professional.
In addition to growing your professional profile, you can move up from entry-level work by expanding your professional network. According to a study conducted by The Adler Group and LinkedIn, up to 85 percent of jobs are obtained through networking. Seek a mentor, participate in a professional or trade organization, or join a committee at your job to expand your network.
What comes after entry-level?
Although some might advance to mid-level work following entry-level, most graduate to an intermediate job. Intermediate jobs require more experience than entry-level jobs, but they usually come with higher pay and increased responsibility. Intermediate jobs are usually followed by mid-level and senior positions.
It’s important to note that career development is not linear. After your first entry-level job, you can pursue another entry-level role or move on to an intermediate job. Depending on your employer’s needs, you may even find opportunities to advance beyond entry-level sooner than the typical timeline, which Express Employment Professionals reports can range from seven months to more than a year.