Bank-sponsored study: 40% of teens considering career as influencer

PROVIDENCE – Forty percent of teens say they are considering a career as a social media influencer, aspiring to become tomorrow’s pitchmen – chattering, dancing and sponsoring commercial products on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.

The findings, generated by Wakefield Research in a survey sponsored by Citizens Financial Group Inc. in conjunction with Junior Achievement, came during Financial Literacy Month, a national campaign urging more financial literacy education.

Wakefield Research polled about 1,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 18 in mid-March. The findings were published April 27 by Junior Achievement and Citizens.

It’s not surprising that kids today want to become small-screen stars. Influencers with more than a million Instagram followers reportedly rake in an average of $15,400 per month, according to InfluencerMarketingHub.com.

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The fastest-growing occupations in the next decade are nurse practitioner and wind turbine service technician, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Social media influencer doesn’t even make the list.

The research found that 76% of teens agreed that a two-year degree or technical certification would be enough to get a good job. Only 41% seemed to think a four-year degree would be necessary.

It takes approximately eight years to train as a nurse practitioner at the University of Rhode Island College of Nursing, while it takes 44 hours to become certified as an offshore wind technician at the Community College of Rhode Island, according to the schools.

In the Ocean State, there just isn’t much call for influencers.

However, according to the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, there is strong demand in the realms of architecture and engineering, community and social services, education and health care practitioners.

What the Ocean State really needs is more nurses; physical therapists; pharmacists; radiological technicians; civil, electrical and industrial engineers; and computer programmers, said Edwine Paul, spokesperson for the DLT.

“Those are some of the jobs where postings far exceed the number” of applicants for those jobs, Paul said.

The complete findings of the sixth annual JA Teens & Personal Finance Survey also indicate teens’ growing concerns about the cost of a college education, the impact of inflation and the challenges of preparing for college and competing for the jobs of the future.

According to the report, 57% of teens are confident they have the skills they need to compete for jobs of the future. Thirty-three percent of respondents ranked work enjoyment at the top of the list of what’s important to their career, while 29% said the job should pay well.

The study found that the cost of post-high school education is teens’ top concern, with 57% of respondents saying so compared with 49% of respondents in 2022, followed by taking on student debt (50%), uncertainty about career goals (36%), moving and living away from home (33%) and not knowing if more education is even worth the time and money (24%).

“Developing the workforce of the future is critical to meet the accelerating needs of the economy, and crucial to this effort is listening and understanding the needs and desires of younger generations to ensure that we’re positioning them to thrive,” Beth Johnson, Citizens chief experience officer and head of environment, social and governance, said in a statement. “To that end, Citizens partners with organizations like Junior Achievement to give young people the confidence and tools they need to own their financial success and build brighter futures.”

About 70% of teens said they have financial concerns about how to pursue post-high school education. Many said that they could use guidance in understanding how loans work (49%), how their education is tied to jobs (45%) and understanding lower-cost alternatives (39%). Just 47% of teens currently feel prepared to pay for college or begin a career. While 74% of teens have done some research on the cost of higher education, 63% are interested in taking a class or participating in a webinar about financial aid and paying for college.

“College is the second largest investment many Americans will make behind owning a home,” Jack E. Kosakowski, CEO and president of Junior Achievement USA, said in a statement. “While a four-year degree isn’t right for everyone, and on-the-job training and certifications are very valuable in many career fields, those who are interested in pursuing a degree need information on how best to pay for higher education, and even find ways to reduce costs.”

Sam Wood is a PBN staff writer. Contact him at Wood@PBN.com.