Job Opportunities with and without an Education

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“Are you a young and hard working individual looking for a challenging yet fun and well paying job? If so then head on down to Clarks Retail Store on 25th and Main Street. We sell clothing to furniture and everything else in between. As a part of the Clark ‘family’ you will provide our customers with the assistance they need, whether it be finding a certain item, answering various questions or helping them complete their purchase. We currently have positions available for cashiers, floor salesmen/women and stock personnel. And the best part of it all??? We don’t require that you have any background in retail and or a high school/college degree as we take the time to individually train all of our employees. So if you’re ready to start your new career and support your family or just yourself come on down to Clarks.”

The 1950s was a time of empowerment in terms of youth taking their careers and lives into their own hands. Adds like the one featured above were slowly becoming more popular in magazines, newspapers and television. These ads aimed to capture the attention of the youth of the 1950s and to draw them into working for newly developing employers. The biggest hook that all of these companies used was the fact that these jobs required little to no prerequisite of any type of education.

Most teenagers of the 1950s thought that they needed and education to get a well paying job. However this was far from the truth and most were able to find a job in which they could support themselves and or their families. Jobs of a higher skill set were the ones that required this educational background and was more popular amongst high school and college graduates.

Teenage men and women were both able to obtain jobs in the work force but the type of jobs that these teenagers found were on completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Men found jobs that were thought of as more labor intensive jobs since society thought of men as the ones who worked harder and performed better. Teenage boys were able to find work in factories, repair shops, gas stations, food service companies and some forms of retail. it was much harder for women to find jobs since men were thought of as the ‘breadwinners’. Those that did find employment we found more often than none to be cashiers/clerks, household workers, secretaries, bank tellers and phone operators.

The majority of these jobs paid their employees minimum wage ($0.75 an hour which slowly raised to $1.00 an hour by the end of the 50s). Despite how low this may seem to us today this was actually a decent amount of money for a teenager who was working a full time job (40+ hours a week). Products and goods were much cheaper in the 1950s then they are today and these wages allowed working teenagers to support their families or live on their own.

Some jobs in the 1950s for teenagers and post college students however did require either a high school diploma, college degree and in some cases both. Teenagers who did not go to high school or college were unable to obtain these jobs. Some of the most well known examples of these types of employment were teachers, doctor/nurse, businessman, real estate agent and the owner of an independent company. These jobs paid above the minimum wage and teenagers/young adults who were lucky enough to obtain these jobs lived a much easier life. As the 1950s went on this idea became more widespread which shifted the views of education in the youth causing more and more to want to get a higher education in order to get a better job.

– John Reinbott

Posted: Apr. 8th 2015

Revised: Apr. 15th 2015

Works Cited

Eyewitness News. “Then and Now: Most common jobs for women in the 1950s compared to 2010.” (2013). Accessed April 15, 2015.  

InfoPlease Inc. “Minimim Wage throughout the years.” (2015). Accessed April 15, 2015. 

McMaster Conroy, Jane. “Business and Jobs in the 1950s.” (2015). Accessed April 15, 2015.

Van, Helen. “Popular Jobs for Male Teenagers in the 1950s.” (2004). Accessed April 15, 2015. 

24/7 Wall Street. “America’s 5 Biggest Employers.” (2011). Accessed April 15, 2015. 


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