Entry Level Jobs Statistics & Report

How many ‘entry-level’ job listings in the UK require experience?
 
Andrew Fennell photo Andrew Fennell | January 2024

Graduating, leaving school, or switching careers and entering a new job market can be challenging. This is made all the more tough by the fact that misleadingly, many ‘entry-level’ jobs actually require lots of work experience. With almost 10 million Brits job hunting at any moment, those with access to well-placed connections or the funds to work unpaid internships have the edge.

To find out how common it is for entry-level jobs to ask for professional experience, we analysed 17,815 job adverts for 43 popular entry-level jobs, using LinkedIn’s job board ‘entry-level’ filtering, across various industries to find out which jobs are the hardest to break into – and where to look to get your foot on the ladder.

 

 

Entry level jobs requiring experience

 

Key findings:

  • On average, 37% of ‘entry-level jobs’ required prior working experience.
  • When stated, the average number of years of experience requested for an entry-level role was 2.5.
  • The careers where prior experience was mentioned the most in entry-level listings were IT technicians (62.8%) and junior software engineers (60%).
  • The entry-level jobs most likely to not ask for prior experience were teaching assistants (1.6%), social workers (3.8%) and licensed practical nurses (3.96%).
  • When the number of years of desired experience was specified in entry-level job adverts, waiters and administrative assistants were requested to have had five years of experience (the most in the study).

 

Which careers expect the most prior experience?

Compiling a list of the UK’s 43 most popular and best-paid entry-level job types, we found that overall 37% of entry-level job listings asked for prior experience.

Although one in five (21%) entry-level jobs didn’t specify exactly how much experience they desired, when they did, ‘entry-level’ jobs expected on average around 2.5 years of prior experience.

But which job types were most likely to ask for prior working experience?

 

The entry-level jobs most likely to require experience

Below are the top 10 jobs our data analysis found were most likely to ask for prior experience while being labelled as an ‘entry-level’ job.

 

RankJobHow many entry-level job adverts asked for experience?Minimum advertised salary
1IT technician62.8%£25,956
2Junior software engineer60.0%£43,733
3Barista58.8%£26,425
4Associate product manager58.2%£50,714
5Graduate sales engineer56.5%£25,820
6Computer Programmer56.0%£32,700
7Civil Engineer55.6%£33,630
8Project manager54.8%£45,332
9Graphic designer52.3%£30,957
10Waiter/waitress52.0%£18,935

 

1. IT technician

The job title most likely to ask for prior job experience was IT technician (62.8%). On average, entry-level job adverts for IT technicians asked for 2.3 years of previous experience.

But does all the previous experience pay off? Perhaps not always. Entry-level jobs for this role advertised a minimum salary of £25,956, considerably below the study’s average of £31,063, and lower than the latest Government figures showing the UK average full-time salary sits at £34,963.

 

2. Junior software engineer

More than half (60%) of junior software engineer entry-level jobs asked for prior experience. When specified, this averaged at one year of prior experience. Although not truly entry-level, this is still less expected prior experience than the 2.5 year average of the study.

In this case, internships to gain this experience might be worth the investment, as minimum entry-level salaries were an appealing £43,733.

 

3. Barista

Completing the top three, the next job advert most likely to ask for prior experience is for baristas (58.8%). Adverts specified on average two years of experience with a minimum salary of £26,425.

For those wanting to break into the coffee trade, it might be worth finding entry-level positions via more informal routes – like handing your CV into local cafes and eateries – rather than applying for jobs online that typically look for more advanced coffee-making skills like latte art and specialty coffee brewing.

 

job titles with the highest percentage of entry-level positions asking for prior experience.

 

Entry-level jobs which ask for the greatest number of years experience

Despite having a salary far below the average minimum in the study, Waiters and waitresses were expected to have had on average five years of relevant experience for entry-level jobs advertised on Linkedin.

Also asking for around five years of experience is the role of administrative assistant. Although boasting an appealing entry-level minimum salary of £41,100 on average, this bonus comes at a price of five years of prior experience. Related careers in administration and tech also ask for a considerable amount of prior experience – with executive assistants and product manager roles also asking for four years.

 

RankJob typeAverage years of experienceMinimum Salary
1Waiter/waitress5£18,935
2Administrative assistant5£41,100
3Associate product manager4£50,714
4Project manager4£45,332
5Executive assistant4£26,570
6Account manager4£33,575
7Teacher3.4£27,047
8Biomedical engineer3.3£34,581
9Accountant3.3£31,581
10Business analyst3.2£35,884

 

Which entry-level jobs were truly ‘entry-level’?

To find out which careers are the most accessible, and are least likely to look for prior experience in entry-level job listings, we also highlighted the roles which were least likely to ask for previous work experience.

 

Jobs which were least likely to ask for experience in entry-level job adverts

The below table reveals which jobs had the lowest number of job adverts requesting prior experience.

 

RankJobHow many entry-level job adverts asked for experience?Minimum advertised salary
1Teaching assistant1.60%£23,926
2Social worker3.80%£37,958
3Licensed practical nurse4.00%£20,056
4Dental nurse6.40%£36,524
5Real estate agent7.40%£29,522
6Marketing assistant12.40%£28,088
7Paralegal13.10%£26,750
8Copywriter15.20%£32,868
9Customer service representative17.00%£22,756
10Public relations assistant18.40%£21,914

 

1. Teaching assistant

Only 1.6% of entry-level teaching assistant jobs asked for prior professional experience – easily the lowest amount in the study.

Although a rewarding career with high job satisfaction, the minimum starting salary for a teaching assistant is £23,926 – 30% below the average starting salary in the study.

However, getting work as a teaching assistant can help you begin a career within the education or social service sectors, and help you decide if you would like to take your career further and begin a teacher training course.

 

2. Social worker

Another public service job, that of a social worker, was the next job that most commonly had genuine entry-level job listings – with just 3.8% specifying prior experience.

There are lots of areas within social work you can choose to work in to match your skills or the issues you are passionate about. You may want to specialise in helping children, people with special needs, or adults struggling with mental health to name just a few examples.

Generally, most social work roles require two to three years of training. If you are worried about financing this study, there are social work bursaries that can help.

The job is well paid too. The minimum salary for a social worker in the study was an attractive £37,958 – considerably higher than the average minimum salary of £31,063. There are lots of opportunities to progress your career too, such as studying for an MA via a local authority, PHD research, moving into management or training and mentoring students.

 

3. Licensed practical nurse

Another job motivated by a desire to help, the licensed practical nurse, came third with 4% of job listings asking for previous professional experience. This role is an entry-level nursing job where you work under the supervision of a registered practical nurse or doctor. Unlike for a job as a registered practical nurse, you only need to complete a year-long course.

The salary for a licensed practical nurse is typically lower – with a minimum starting salary of £22,36 but this is still a great option to start your career in healthcare and learn on the job rather than spending time in full-time study.

 

job titles with the lowest percentage of entry-level positions asking for prior experience.

 

Entry-level jobs requesting the fewest number of years of experience

When it came to jobs that requested the fewest years of experience, naturally excluding those that asked for none, licensed practical nurses, PR assistants, sales representatives, administrators, event planners, and junior software engineers all requested just one.

 

RankJob typeAvg. years of experienceMinimum Salary
1Licensed practical nurse1£20,056
2Public relations assistant1£21,914
3Sales representative1£27,656
4Administrator1£20,636
5Event planner1£27,633
6Junior software engineer1£43,733
7Lab technician1.3£24,948
8Data analyst1.6£36,375
9Trainee solicitor1.7£46,043
10Consultant1.8£25,359

 

Tips for having the edge in the entry-level job market:

UK graduates in the 2020s currently face an unemployment rate of 12%, just one reason making it hard to keep motivated and hopeful when job hunting – especially in more competitive industries. But there are options to gain an edge in the entry-level job market.

Here are a few of our top tips for landing that first entry-level job:

  1. Create a tailored CV:  Study the jobs you are applying for, determine the most important requirements, and ensure your CV is reflecting them as much as possible ; selling yourself in the best way possible.
  2. Review career paths: You might find from your research of other people’s career paths that you don’t need to have a linear path to your dream role. Consider playing the long game and choosing a job in a related field with easier entry requirements. A five-year plan can help with motivation and understanding what you need to get out of each job before you move on.
  3. Get experience: As we can see, most entry-level jobs require experience, so you need to get experience through internships, volunteer work, or by doing it yourself. This could be writing a blog or taking an online course designed to build a portfolio in your field.
  4. Don’t burn yourself out: It’s tempting to try and apply to as many jobs as soon as possible but not only will this compromise the quality of your applications, but it could be detrimental to your mental health. Set yourself an achievable goal, like two well-researched and crafted applications a day or four hours of focused job hunting and consider appointing a friend or family member to keep you accountable to this goal.

 

Methodology

A total of 17,815 entry-level job adverts were scraped from Linkedin jobs between 9/12 to 14/12 across the United Kingdom. Using LinkedIn’s ‘entry-level’ filter we searched for specific job titles and filtered out all other job listings other than those labelled ‘entry-level’. Using AI, we then analysed these job listings to see how many requested prior experience and, where relevant, how many years of experience they requested. Our bespoke tool used natural language processing and AI to remove false positives such as “this job requires no experience” or “this is a job where you can gain lots of experience”. The data was then manually reviewed where required.

The 43 popular entry-level jobs were selected by using UK Indeed reports on the most common jobs, best-paid graduate jobs, and high-paying entry-level jobs. In addition to that, we also reviewed other sector reports on popular entry-level jobs.

The jobs analysed were: licensed practical nurse, public relations assistant, sales representative, administrator, event planner, junior software engineer, lab technician, data analyst, trainee solicitor, consultant, customer service representative, investment consultant, delivery driver, graphic designer, barista, it technician, dental nurse, marketing assistant, copywriter, nurse, analyst, junior web developer, civil engineer, petroleum engineer, business analyst, accountant, biomedical engineer, teacher, account manager, executive assistant, trainee recruiter, project manager, associate product manager, administrative assistant, waiter/waitress, teaching assistant, social worker, real estate agent, paralegal, editorial assistant, construction worker, mechanical engineer, computer programmer, graduate sales engineer.

 

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