While some studies suggest that alcohol use reduces productivity and hence may reduce wages, others argue that it can enhance network relations and thus increase wages. The current study aims to unravel these equivocal findings by employing a prospective design focusing on young adults. Applying a social capital perspective, we posit that the relationship between alcohol use and earnings growth is positive for those whose vocational field places networking as more central to early career success (i.e., high social intensity occupations), but not for those whose vocational field emphasizes technical mastery as the basis for early career success (i.e., low social intensity occupations). Longitudinal data on 735 young adults entering career employment indicated that occupational social intensity indeed moderates the relationship between frequency of heavy episodic drinking (HED) and two-year earnings growth. As posited, whereas among those in low social intensity occupations the relationship between frequency of HED and earnings was not significant, among those in high social intensity occupations, this relationship was positive. Moreover, we posit and find this effect to be driven largely by first year’s earnings growth. Implications for research, practice and policy are discussed.