BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Some 1 million U.S. students graduated college this spring and are looking for their first "real" jobs, and here are some great first cars they should consider buying once they land those coveted entry-level positions.
"Getting your first 'grown-up' job is a moment of independence for many people -- and buying a car is a really tangible way of expressing that to the world," says Warren Clarke of car-buying site Edmunds.com, which recently named the Top Cars for First-Time Job Holders.
Clarke says buying a new car to go along with your new job will not only provide transportation, but project a professional image that can help you look good in the work world.
"Young people who get new jobs have to start thinking -- probably for the first time -- about how they're presenting themselves to coworkers," he says. "Maybe that old clunker handed down to you from your great aunt isn't the kind of statement you want to be making to the world at this point in your life."
Edmunds picked 2014 models for young people entering various professions by looking at price, features and the kind of image that those in different lines of work likely want to put forth.
The site focused on cars listed for around $13,000 to $30,000, with the lowest-priced models earmarked for people entering modest-paying professions and costlier vehicles recommended for those in fields that pay a bit more. "You don't want to end up spending your entire paycheck on a car payment each month," Clarke says.
Read on to check out Edmunds' picks for best cars for first-time job holders in various professions. Models appear in order of price, and dollar figures refer to manufacturers' suggested retail pricing (including destination fees) for 2014 entry-level versions of each car listed.
Best first car for teachers: Nissan Versa sedan
Base price: $12,800
Teachers typically don't make much money, so the Nissan Versa sedan -- the lowest-priced 2014 sold in America -- should be about as welcome to new academics as summer vacation is.
"The Versa's affordability is its biggest strength, but it's also a very practical car," Clarke says. "You'd think you'd have to settle for a lot of compromises given the model low price tag, but there really aren't too many you have to deal with."
The expert says the model offers good ride quality, a large trunk and lots of interior space -- particularly in the backseat, which many compact sedans short-change.
Entry-level Versas come with 109-horsepower four-cylinder engines and manual transmission, with automatic transmission available as an option.
Best first car for salespeople: Kia Forte sedan
Base price: $16,700
Good salespeople must convince consumers that they're selling something that's reasonably priced, well-designed and built to last -- characteristics that Clarke says the Forte offers in abundance.
He says the sleek sedan, which Kia redesigned completely for 2014, combines a modest price with good looks, nice amenities and an industry-leading 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
"The Forte is lots of fun to drive, very roomy and has lots of upscale features even though it's inexpensive," Clarke says. "And you get a long, long warranty that plays into the whole sales angle of saying: 'You don't have to worry about this product breaking down.'"
Base Fortes feature 148-horsepower four-cylinder engines and manual transmission. Automatic transmission is optional, while higher trim levels offer as much as 201 horsepower.