The 10 Best Companies for Advancing Your Career

Female employee receives promotion
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Workers are in high demand these days. US employers added 263,000 jobs in November, only slightly down from October’s total of 284,000. And while unemployment remained unchanged at 3.7%, wages were 5.1% higher than last year, The New York Times reported.

Not every worker can choose their prestige company. But it’s always good to know what’s out there, and which companies have a reputation for helping workers get ahead. A recent report, the American Opportunity Index, examined payroll and job vacancy data for the 250 largest US employers. The goal is to determine which offer the greatest job growth opportunities available to workers with or without college degrees.

The index uses nine metrics across three categories to assess the level of opportunity provided to workers. Researchers examined access to jobs, upward mobility options, and payments.

“We believe these three dimensions are key determinants of opportunity creation: Workers need to be able to climb the ladder, earn enough to stay on the ladder, and move up the ladder,” said the report’s foreword.

Here’s a look at the top companies on that list.

10. Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines
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Southwest Airlines is not only the premier US airline, but also the world’s largest low-cost airline, employing more than 55,000 people. The 50-year-old airline topped the transportation sector in the American Opportunity Index, the only airline to make the top 30.

It earned praise for career stability, career growth, talent growth and advancement without a degree. And, despite all the turbulence in the airline industry, Southwest has never had a layoff.

Even with all those employees, many customers are outraged by the large number of flight cancellations this holiday season — which Southwest has attributed to understaffing and antiquated technology.

9. International Papers

International Papers
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The name International Paper says it all — it’s the largest pulp and paper company in the world.

The American Opportunity Index ranks him highly for career growth and career stability. It has won other awards, too, recently placing at No. 29 out of 100 on Foundry’s Computerworld’s list of best places to work in IT.

8. Mutual Free

Mutual Freedom
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Boston-based Liberty Mutual is a global insurer and the sixth-largest property and casualty insurance company in the US. homeless youth.

The American Opportunity Index scores Liberty Mutual high for developing talent, advancement without a degree, and as a launching pad for a career. In fact, the index notes that more than 80% of managerial positions are filled by internal employees.

7. HF Sinclair

HollyFrontier, who founded HF Sinclair Corp.
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HF Sinclair Corporation, a Dallas-based diversified energy company, takes the No. 7 in the index.

Despite being one of the smaller companies on the list, with only 4,200 employees, it ranks highly for cultivating talent and is cited as a company where employees can get ahead without a college degree. It is a top-ranking company in the oil, gas and mining sector.

6. Fisher

Tada/ images

The “Fi” in “Fiserv” comes from “finance”, as it provides financial technology services to clients across the financial services sector. The Wisconsin-based company is ranked No. 6 overall on the index, but takes the top spot in the business services sector and No. 2 in technology, behind global giant Microsoft.

Fiserv scores well for career stability, as a launching pad for a career, and for advancement without a degree. Dan has ambitious plans to expand its profit margins in the fourth quarter, its CEO said in December 2022.


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Tech giant Microsoft scores highly for career stability, growing talent and advancement without a degree.

Believe it or not, co-founder Bill Gates, who now runs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, also advanced without a degree—he dropped out of Harvard after two years and started a company with his friend Paul Allen.

4. PG&E

Pacific Gas and Power Company
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PG&E, or Pacific Gas and Electric Company, is an American investor-owned utility that provides natural gas and electricity. It serves 5.5 million electricity accounts and 4.5 million natural gas accounts in Northern and Central California. The company earned the No. 4 on the index thanks to excellence in career stability, as a career launch site and for advancement without a degree.

3.Cisco Systems

Cisco sign
Miscellaneous Photography /

Cisco Systems is a technology conglomerate that develops, manufactures, and sells networking hardware, software, telecommunications equipment, and other high-tech products and services.

The American Opportunity Index ranks him highly for growing talent, career stability, as a career launching pad, and for advancement without a degree. As well as ranking high here, it tops Fortune’s list of the 100 best companies to work for in 2021 and 2022.

2. American Express

American Express
JHVEPhoto /

You can probably imagine a green American Express card, or remember the traveler’s check slogan “don’t leave home without them” (later changed to “don’t leave home without them”, and used for the card).

American Express is a multinational company that specializes in payment card services. In addition to ranking No. 2 overall, it ranks at the top of the payment index and the banking and lender sector, and is highlighted for growing talent and advancement without a degree.


Jonathan Weiss/

And at No. 1 in the index is AT&T, a multinational telecommunications holding company.

It is the world’s largest telecommunications company by revenue and the third largest mobile phone service provider in the US. This index scores AT&T very well for career growth, as a launching pad for a career, for cultivating talent, and for advancement without a degree.

In fact, AT&T senior executive vice president Angela Santone says that less than 5% of corporate positions require a college degree. And the company is growing: Fortune reports that AT&T added 3.2 million phone subscribers in 2021, “a tally that exceeds its combined net new subscribers in the previous 10 years.”

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