SALT LAKE CITY — A couple of new jobs reports this week suggest the future for college graduates in Utah looks bright. Those graduates' chances at finding a job look pretty good, according to Forbes Magazine.
It ranked Salt Lake City No. 3 for best big cities for jobs in 2013. Provo-Orem ranked No. 2 on Forbes' list of mid-size cities for jobs in 2013.
But having a college diploma is key.
The finding of another report shows a degree is likely to earn college graduates nearly $10,000 more every year.
Nurses don't get paid as much as doctors, but I think that definitely is an incentive that I'm going to be making lot more money and I will be able to support my family if I need to. That's always reassuring.
–BYU graduate Sarah Hodson
"I chose nursing because I really like the patient care aspect of it," said BYU graduate Sarah Hodson.
Hodson has a diploma that should easily land her a job. Health care is one of the fastest growing industries and most lucrative. She will most likely make 130 percent more than someone who has only a high school diploma.
"Nurses don't get paid as much as doctors, but I think that definitely is an incentive that I'm going to be making lot more money and I will be able to support my family if I need to," Hodson said. "That's always reassuring."
Right now only 30 percent of Utahns are like her and hold at least a bachelor's degree. That number hasn't changed much in 20 years, but Utah's standing among other states has.
The Milken Institute reports that in 1990, Salt Lake City ranked 55 out of 300 metropolitan areas of educational attainment. Provo-Orem ranked 28.
Twenty years later, Salt Lake City now ranks 85 of those 300 cities. Provo-Orem is 50.
The stats are especially troubling when you compare us to areas considered our peer cities.
College graduation rates for Raleigh, N.C.; Sacramento, Calif.; Richmond, Va.; and Philadelphia have either stayed the same or improved slightly.
Utah cities could be fighting for the same jobs but may not have the employees to compete.
"In the field they are going more from the two-year degree to the bachelor's degree. It's easier to find a job," Hodson said. "So now that I see something that I have a degree and I can actually do something that I want to do for the rest of my life, I think it will really pay off."
Not all degrees or fields will promise a 130 percent higher salary than a high school diploma. You can view a Utah comparison and the entire report on the benefit of college degrees on the State Higher Education Executive Officers Assocation website.