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  • Writer's pictureJohn Shrawder

High School and Employment Markets - Working with People

The next three entries will connect the eight core subject areas to the job market as defined by the US Labor Department’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Handbook provides detailed profiles of 324 occupations that comprise more than 135 million of the jobs that existed in the United States in 2019. These are more than 80% of all jobs. I analyzed the text of the description of these jobs to show the skills and knowledge to perform them.

As discussed in the first posting in this series, the High School curriculum is based on thinking or “fads” established in 1892 by the Committee of Ten College Presidents and the 1918 Standards set by Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education, a special committee of educators. The 1892 core areas included Latin, Greek, English, math, physics, astronomy, chemistry, natural history, history, civil government, political economy, and geography. The 1918 standards included worthy use of leisure, vocation, command of functions, health, citizenship, ethical standards, and worthy home membership. These have led to five course areas from the 1892 standard –foreign languages, English Language Arts, Natural Science, Math, and Social Studies. Three course areas have emerged from the 1918 standards—Fine Arts, Vocational Education, and Health and Physical Education.

In each area, I will review the skills and knowledge developed from the courses, the extent this skill is used in the 135 million American jobs, jobs where this type of course is the major part of the job, and the impact of receiving a College Education in the Curriculum Area.

The first entry will discuss curriculum areas where interpersonal communication is most important: Foreign Languages, English Language Arts, and Fine Arts. The second will be working with things and ideas are most important: Science, Technical, and Math. The third will be understanding institutions: Social Studies and Health.

This discussion connects the subject area only to the job information on the 318 job descriptions contained in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. It does not discuss the usefulness of the subject in the Personal and Public Spheres.

The descriptions frequently contains terms like “decision Making”, “problem solving”, “Critical Thinking”, “analysis”, and “time Management”. These are important in many areas like Math, Science, and English. I suggest these be discussed in general for issues in the personal and public sphere but in more specific advanced ways as one enters other courses. They will not be discussed in this analysis.


In 1892 the Committee of Ten proposed Greek and Latin for the first high school curriculum. Foreign language instruction is still included in many school programs.

Skills and Knowledge: About 1.2 million or .9% of the 135 million jobs in the Occupational Outlook Handbook mention the value of knowing a second language. About 88% of the jobs that use second language skills do not require any college education. Jobs that seek bilingual high school graduates have higher incomes than other high school graduates.

Jobs where Knowing a Second Non-English Language is the major skill – 77,400 or .1% of all jobs. All job seekers in virtually all occupations in the United States benefit from knowing English. Interpreters and Translators is the only occupation which requires knowledge of a second language. These jobs should grow by 20% over the next ten years. They pay an average of $53,000 which is about 6% above the national average and typically require a Bachelor’s Degree.

College Graduates with Degrees in Foreign Languages. Employed College graduates with degrees in Foreign Languages typically earn $52,000 which is about 3% less than the average college graduate. About 61% are employed in jobs that required a college degree which is higher than the average of 58%. About 51% felt the need to get a graduate degree. The most common occupation for these graduates is Elementary Education.


This was also first included in the 1892 recommendations Students are tested in this for the Common Core. For employment purposes, I will include competence in listening, speaking, reading and writing. I include only communicating to inform and persuade. I include communicating to entertain in the Fine Arts curriculum.

Skills and Knowledge: Most of the 135 million jobs discussed in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, require a person to be effective at basic interpersonal interactions. Some suggest characteristics like being patent or excelling under emotional circumstances. Most jobs do not require abilities to communicate or understand complex materials either orally or in writing. Listening is the most commonly used of the four skills necessary to communicate complex materials in American jobs. Writing complex material and public speaking are the least commonly used. There is a job for all persons regardless of their ability to communicate. Some jobs do not even require a person to interact effectively with others. However, jobs that require a college degree are more likely to require both reading and writing skills.

Jobs where Interpersonal Communication is the major skill – 25 Million or 19% of all jobs. These jobs include sales, customer service, advertising, public relations, journalism, education, announcers, and technical writers. As a group they will grow by 1.3% over the next ten years. This is the weakest area for job growth among the eight curriculum areas. About 62% of these jobs require less than a college degree, about 28% of jobs require a college degree, and about 8% require a graduate degree.

The following table emphasizes occupations in the Occupational Outlook Handbook where communication is the most important aspect of the job. They have been grouped for simplicity. The columns include the required education, the number of jobs in the United States in 2019, the average salary, the estimated growth over the next ten years, the required training discussed, and the skills most commonly cited. Licensing is mentioned if it is required in any US state. Since these are groupings of jobs, the percentages represent the number of jobs in the group where a training or skill is required. The categories for this group are contain the following occupations.

  • High School – 11 occupations including retail sales, cashier, customer service, real estate broker, insurance sales, announcer

  • Education Associate – Preschool teacher

  • Education Bachelors – 6 occupations including teacher

  • Education – Graduate – 4 occupations including librarian, post-secondary teaching, museum workers

  • Sales – Bachelors – 3 occupations including Sales engineers, security sales, sales managers

  • Media - College – 10 occupations including technical writers, advertising, reporters, public relations

College Graduates with Degrees in Communication Skills. English, Communications, and Education are the common college majors chosen by people with an interest in English Language Arts. Salaries of graduates with all three degrees are about 20% below the average college graduate. The most common employment for English and Education graduates is elementary education. They are employed an above average 60% at college level jobs. This is above average. They must get a graduate degree almost 50% of the times which is also above average.

Communications graduates are most frequently employed in personal services. About 51% are employed and 23% will graduate from graduate school. These are far below the average of all college graduates.


Fine Arts were not included in the 1892 standards. The 1918 standards defined “worthy use of leisure”. Fine arts are a part of interpersonal communications. I include visual arts, performance arts, athletics, and writing for entertainment in this group. I include all entertainment in this group including writing for entertainment because they have similar ways of developing and rewarding exceptional talent and because entertainment and media have evolved since 1918 to increasingly combine visual arts, performance arts, and writing.

Skills and Knowledge: Several artistic skills are discussed in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

About 4.1 million or 3.0% of jobs discuss Drawing and Drafting skills and about 656 thousand discuss design and visualization skills. These skills are used in artistic and technology jobs.

Music skills is required of 234 thousand or .2% of jobs and athletic skills by 14 thousand or less than 1% of jobs. Nonmusical performers 246,500; writing 131,200 other sports 314,800.

The most common skill in this group is dexterity which is included in the descriptions of 29.3 million or 22% of all American jobs.

Jobs where Fine Arts Skills is the major skill – 2.169 million or 1.6% of labor force

These jobs as a group should grow by 3% over the next ten years which is slower than the national average. More than in most areas, building exceptional levels of skills over a long period is helpful at achieving high compensation. Knowledge of specialized computer software is helpful for many of these workers.

The following table emphasizes occupations in the Occupational Outlook Handbook where Fine Arts is the most important aspect of the job. They have been grouped for simplicity. The columns are the same as in the English Language Arts sections. The categories for this group are contain the following occupations.

  • Vis Arts High School - 5 occupations including craft and fine artists, photographers, models, and broadcast technicians

  • Vis Arts Associates includes desktop publishers

  • Vis Arts Bach – 7 occupations including graphic design, art director, and animation

  • Perf Arts High School – 4 occupations including actors, dancers and musicians

  • Perf Arts Bach – 4 occupations including music directors, composers, directors, and producers

  • Sports includes paid athletes, coaches, referees, and other sports officials

College Graduates with Degrees in the Fine Arts. Employed College graduates with degrees in Fine Arts earn $40,000 which is about 33% less than the average college graduate. About 49% are employed in jobs that required a college degree which is lower than the average of 58%. About 26% felt the need to get a graduate degree which is lower than the average of 37%. The most common occupation for these graduates is Graphic Design.

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