NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Should today's college graduates be on the seven-year plan?

By that we mean looking seven years ahead so they can plan a career and estimate a salary --

work that has been done by Salary.com

using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


The professional careers company calls jobs such as cost estimator, medical secretary and manufacturing sales representative the "safest bets" for today's college graduates looking to break into a field (or even veteran workers looking to break into a new career market.)

Salary.com says 54% of U.S. professionals work in an industry linked directly to their college degree. For younger workers - high school seniors,

college students

and other entrants into the workforce - that means recognizing as early as possible what career will see the most demand over the next decade and what will boost their career earnings potential.

"As the cost of education continues to rise and students find themselves graduating from college with mounting debt, it's crucial for students to consider degrees that will result in a high-earning career when they graduate," says Abby Euler, Salary.com's general manager.

"Just doing that won't be enough for younger career professionals, no matter their career path," she says. "Students should always use

salary data calculators

to negotiate salary and benefits for their first job to ensure they are getting the most possible out of the position."

What's interesting about the partial list of occupations in demand by 2020 (see the whole thing

here

) is that some don't even require a college degree, even though their 2020 salary estimates look like occupations requiring one:

Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing

Projected 2020 income:

$93,059

Expected 2020 job growth:

16%

First-line supervisors of office and administrative support

Projected 2020 income:

$74,205

Expected 2020 job growth:

14%

Licensed practical and vocational nurses

Projected 2020 income:

$51,536

Expected 2020 job growth:

22%

Medical secretaries

Projected 2020 income:

$40,647

Expected 2020 job growth:

41%

Cost estimator

Projected 2020 income:

$61,405

Expected 2020 job growth:

36.4%

Of those five careers, only the final three require a college degree.

Nobody's saying you should abandon your career for the above occupations. But if it's a career "insurance policy" you seek, the 2020 career estimates are good food for thought.