Opportunity occupations: What the Fed means by ‘opportunity occupations’


Fed Communities Staff


Keith Wardrip, community development research manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

So the community development function at the Federal Reserve works to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate in and benefit from economic growth, and one of the most direct ways to do that is by accessing a decent paying job.

We wanted to do a study that learned more about economic opportunities for workers who didn’t have a college degree, but we didn’t have a term to describe that kind of work. We coined the term opportunity occupation.

So an opportunity occupation is one that does not require a four-year college degree and that typically pays above the national annual median wage of around $38,000 after adjusting for local differences in cost of living.

I think it’s important to mention what an opportunity occupation is not. So for the largest opportunity occupations, it would be rare that somebody would be able to walk right out of high school and get hired for one of these positions. In almost all cases, the worker would need some kind of post-secondary education, some kind of on-the-job training, or some amount of experience or maybe a combination of all of those things.