Gateway Jobs

With Minnesota’s unemployment rate at a historically low 2.0%, natural job progression offers insight into the best opportunities for workers to advance out of poverty, as well how training providers can be on the cutting edge of workforce development

This post is the first in a two-part series co-written by Erin Olson of RealTime Talent and Bryan Lindsley of This post introduces real-live career progressions, defines “gateway jobs” and shares the current top five “no college required” gateways jobs in the MSP Metro.

The second post shares the current top five two-year degree gateway jobs in the MSP Metro, discusses how real-time data is transforming the future of workforce development, and advises training providers on how they can adapt to these changes.

Part 1: Top 5 “no college required” gateway jobs in MSP

Authors: Erin Olson, Director of Strategic Research and Bryan Lindsley

From theoretical career pathways to real-life career progressions

For the last ten years, workforce development has been moving from using static employment forecasts to real-time data. This change has been most notably apparent with analysis of real-time job posting data.

Now, similar big data approaches are revolutionizing how workforce practitioners think about career pathways.

Formal career pathways maps have served a useful purpose to show how an individual could theoretically advance through a distinct path from an entry-level role to a senior-level one within a specific industry or sector. However, career trajectories of most workers – moving from occupation to occupation, or even from one sector to another – are far from linear.

Rather than remaining dependent on linear, theoretical pathways based on traditional understandings of related occupations, big data and related analytics are now able to show the most promising opportunities for workers based on real-life career progressions.

What are gateway jobs?

Gateway jobs are middle-skill, middle-wage roles that are most likely to be the connection between and entry-level job and a well-paid career.

Gateway jobs typically offer between $42,000 per year up to the regional average salary of $62,400 per year and are high-demand. As such, Gateway jobs offer a wage uplift to those previously employed in Origin jobs (entry-level positions) and offer longer-term economy mobility and career advancement opportunities. These are often the best-suited jobs for adult workforce programming and career pathway interventions.

The idea of Gateway jobs is based on the Origin-Gateway-Target occupation model, which is an alternative way to consider entry-level, mid-level, and senior roles based on career progressions of actual people. By focusing on career progressions that are most likely in the real world and the transferable skills that make these “alternative” occupational progressions possible, the model provides a new paradigm for thinking about career pathways.

The Origin-Gateway-Target (“OGT”) occupation model was designed by McKinsey Global Institute and popularized by the Rework America Alliance, a Markle Initiative. The model focuses on various pathways workers are most likely to reach Target jobs that are:

  1. High-Skill – Occupations typically require some form of credential, whether it be an industry credential, certification, or postsecondary degree;
  2. High-Wage – Average occupation wages are higher than the regional average wage;
  3. High-Demand – Occupations that fulfill two or more of the following demand criteria 1) higher than average forecast five-year growth, 2) five-year total demand greater volume than current employment counts, 3) unemployment under 3%, 4) high unemployment-to-job postings ratio, and/or 5) high job posting volume.

The OGT model also takes into consideration where occupation gaps (also referred to as talent shortages) are likely due to less-than-sufficient local talent pipelines, and where award gaps may be present, indicated by local postsecondary institutions producing low volumes of related graduate awards compared to a national benchmark.

Since 2020, many Gateway jobs sustained high-demand through the roller coaster of impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, often with unemployment rates under 1% and job posting volumes doubling every six months–both signs of employers struggling to fill positions.

Gateway jobs have also seen advertised wages rise faster and more consistently than Origin jobs and indications of employers dropping education or training requirements to get talent through their doors faster, particularly among Information Technology, Business, and Finance jobs.

Gateway jobs not only provide the opportunity for a salary boost in the short-term, but also allows for exposure to and experience in a particular industry where an individual can grow with further education or training, as desired.

Markle Foundation OGT Model

How Ramsey County uses gateway occupations

The OGT Model has served useful for informing workforce development program needs and highlighting strategic opportunities for public and private postsecondary institutions to address local talent needs.

For example, Ramsey County Workforce Solutions has leaned in to using this OGT Model to highlight needs in the Hospitality, Finance, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Construction, and Information Technology career clusters, focusing in on thirty critical Gateway Occupations as the promising areas for intervention.

“Leveraging the OGT Model has become a power tool to educate our workforce board members, stakeholders, and jobseekers,” says Ling Becker, Director of Workforce Solutions for Ramsey County. “This model allows us to highlight the opportunities to move along an increasingly higher skilled and better wage pathway while still allowing for matching of skills, interests, and options. It is an innovative approach to Ramsey County’s intentional focus on building and supporting more Learn and Earn models.”

The Top 5 “no college required” Gateway Jobs  in the MSP Metro

These are the top five “no college required” Gateway jobs in the MSP Metro that are high-demand (and specifically high-growth), will have more than five hundred new job openings over the next five years, and are likely to experience talent shortages given local talent supplies (as of June 2022):

  1. Self-Enrichment Teachers – Educators and instructors are in high-demand, and recreation, arts, sports, and driving instructors are no exception. Teaching offers the opportunity to hone skills in public speaking, instruction, facilitation, and planning, while also developing and sharing expertise in a specialized field. These roles in the education and training space typically do not require an advanced degree–though they do require related knowledge of a particular field–and pay a regional average wage of $43,600 annually when full-time.
  1. Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants – This Health Science career has severely low unemployment rates in the MSP Metro at only 1.7%, or 115 individuals trained in this role who are unemployed. Employment has risen by an average of 1.8% on average over the past five years, and is among the few Gateway Occupations that did not see declining employment during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. These roles pay an average wage of $44,000 annually and typically do not require an advanced degree.
  1. Flight Attendants – As we see air travel rebounding after the COVID-19 pandemic, support roles to the travel industry will need new talent. After a significant dip in employment over the past two years, an estimated 2,342 new Flight Attendants will be needed in the MSP Metro over the next five years. Traits such as patience, empathy, and leadership coupled with strong communication skills and timeliness are valued and developed in these roles. Companies are already experiencing talent shortages and low training rates of Flight Attendants, and demand is uniquely high in the MSP Metro compared to other regions (an LQ of 2.21). On average, these roles pay about $54,800 annually and often offer unique travel benefits not found in many other fields.
  1. Transit and Intercity Bus Drivers – These positions are experiencing high talent shortages already in the MSP Metro, and many employers are offering support to interested individuals to obtain the required Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). On average, these roles pay about $47,000 annually.
  1. Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists – A critical support to all industries, the MSP Metro faces a likely shortage of technicians with the skills to repair and maintain diesel engines in trucks, buses, and construction equipment. These roles are some of the highest wage positions featured in this section, at $57,500 on average annually with typically no postsecondary education required–although mechanical aptitude and/or industry credential demonstrating skill are prerequisites.

Read our next post on Top 5 two-year degree gateway jobs, check out RealTime Talent for the latest MSP data analytics, or check out Bryan’s problem-solving resources. Click here for definitions and methodology associated with this post.

About the co-author

Bryan Lindsley teaches Lasting Results For Complex Problems, an online course for nonprofits, government and philanthropy. His e-book, The Fail List: Top 10 Mistakes of Systems Change Initiatives and How To Avoid Them, is available on his website, where he regularly shares resources for problem solvers and changemakers.