According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report on May 2011 employment within the state, Minnesota's top regions for nonfarm job seekers are the Minneapolis metropolitan area, the Duluth area and Rochester. The report states that office and administrative staff, sales personnel and similar workers, and food preparers and servers are the three top occupation categories in the state. Although many food and retail sales workers do not have postsecondary schooling, job applicants seeking positions with benefits and better pay often need advanced schooling, such as supervisory management certifications or associate degrees.
Because the Mayo Clinic is located in Rochester, there is a need for nursing personnel, health information staff and similar healthcare occupations. In 2011, Rochester placed first in the nation for the highest concentration of registered nursing positions, which the BLS estimated was 6,980. The majority of certifications and degrees at the community college in Rochester are for nursing and health information occupations.
Statewide, the top occupations are retail sale persons, cashiers and service personnel, such as cleaners, food servers and similar jobs. A person can enhance his or her chances of having a better paying position, such as manager, by getting a degree. Minnesota has a strong educational system with a high graduation rate. Some students get their degrees at state schools before applying for jobs in other states. Although most students get occupational associate degrees, which prepare them for specific jobs, many get transfer associate degrees and use the credits as a base for higher education, such as a bachelor or master degree.
Minnesota has several occupations that require two years or less of schooling. For example, mechanical engineering technicians need a two-year associate degree and the Minneapolis area has the fifth highest employment of technicians in the nation. St. Cloud has the ninth highest annual mean wage for mechanical engineering technicians. From its cities to its rural towns, Minnesota offers great education and work opportunities.