Career exploration

Career exploration

Career exploration

When it comes to choosing a career, making an informed decision is key.

At this stage, you have identified occupations or jobs that suit your interests, values, and abilities. Career Exploration is about looking more closely at those potentially good matches to narrow the list down to the best matches.

Career Exploration tools exist to give you the labor market information you need to make informed choices. Get started with CareerOneStop's Occupation Profile. You can also try other online tools (such as O*NET or About.com’s Balance site). Your state Unemployment Insurance Agency probably has some great tools, too, as do colleges. A quick search for “career exploration tools” in a search engine like Bing or Google will bring up many options.

For more personal assistance, check out your local American Job Center (or One-Stop Career Center).  These centers feature career counselors who can provide help and guidance, usually at no charge, either one-on-one or through classes, workshops, or job search clubs.

As you explore each job possibility, consider the following:

  • What is the average wage?
  • What kind of skills and credentials are needed?
  • What are the typical job duties?
  • Are jobs available, and is the field expected to be stable or grow in the foreseeable future?

All of this labor market information will help you narrow your search. You’ll rule out occupations for various reasons. Maybe the salary isn’t what you need. Maybe you discover you wouldn’t enjoy the job duties or typical schedule.  Maybe you decide you don’t want to take the time to get the necessary training. Or, maybe the field has few job openings or poor growth projections. After all, you don’t want to find yourself looking for another job anytime soon!

Action Steps

Look up three jobs in the Occupation Profile to learn:

  • A quick overview of the field, descriptive career video and wage information for your state and nationally. The program also provides projections for the number of job openings over a 10-year timeframe.
  • Details about the tasks, skills needed, and equipment used. While every employer is different, you can get a good idea of the basic kinds of work activities people do on a daily basis.
  • The training typically needed to enter the field, and the level of education most workers in the field have attained. These two can differ, surprisingly.

Finally, you’ll find ideas for other occupations that use related skills and interests, and can link to training in your state that could help you prepare for a career in that field.