Four Ways to Find Your Career Path
High school graduation is just ahead, and you are quickly coming to a fork in the road.
You have to make decisions for yourself, such as where to work, where to go to college, and what to study. With so many choices, how do you know you’re headed in the right direction? Follow these four rules of the road as you make decisions about a future career.
Follow Your Head . . .
Indiana has the challenge of filling more than 1 million jobs over the next 10 years, but not all jobs are created equal. Some careers pay more, and some industries—like healthcare, construction, and some manufacturing jobs—currently need workers, which usually means they offer better pay and more opportunities.
While you are making decisions about college and careers, keep some of these facts in mind:
- The U.S. economy will grow from 140 million to 165 million jobs by 2020.
- By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school.
- Job openings in healthcare, community services, and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) will grow the fastest among occupational clusters.
- 39 million jobs in the U.S. are STEM-related. In Indiana, these advanced industries are growing, with digital and knowledge services playing a bigger role. Some of Indiana’s advanced industries include computer systems design, scientific management, engineering, motor vehicle parts manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, medical and diagnostic labs.
Think carefully about where you fit into this picture. Getting ready for a career in healthcare or a STEM field with education and training sounds like it’s a good bet for your future.
But, what if those fields don’t sound like your thing? Even if you don’t love STEM right now, you can still work in technology and science, and even if you feel faint at the sight of blood, you can work in health care. Those career fields need business people in the accounting and sales offices, security officers, human resources managers, lawyers, and even poets who can write advertising copy. And, every job of the future will require some technology.
. . . And Your Heart
By this point in high school, you should know:
- Classes and activities you like
- Classes and activities you don’t like
- What you are good at, and your strengths and weaknesses in academics, social life and summer jobs
- What matters to you: money, location, or working conditions? Are you happiest working indoors, or outdoors? Desk job, or do you hate sitting still? Working mostly with things (data or machines, for example) or people?
Knowing these things about yourself are key to finding a career you’ll love—or at least like. Not every career decision needs to be strictly about average pay or unemployment rates. Some of the most rewarding careers that benefit or transform society—think of amazing teachers, social workers, religious leaders, political activists and great artists—don’t always fit neatly into “highest-paying” or “most prestigious”
Use a Map . . .
Online career assessment and career exploration will expand your vision of potential majors and career paths.
Some of the best of the Web:
- LearnMoreIndiana.org has personality quizzes and other resources to get from where you are today to the life and career you want.
- Indiana Career Explorer (indianacareerexplorer.com) takes you through career assessments, ways to explore occupations, training and education options, tools to create cover letters, resumes, a shareable e-Portfolio and numerous job search tools. You can use it for life, throughout every stage of education and through career transitions. Even better: After you set up an account, the first career assessment takes less than 10 minutes to complete, so you can get started on your future in less time than it takes to scroll through Instagram. You might be using it already. If so, make sure you keep it updated and share your plan with your parents and school counselor.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (bls.gov/ooh) can help you find career information, education and training, pay, and outlook for hundreds of occupations. You can browse highest-paying, fast-growing jobs, or browse featured occupations that you may never have thought of. Recently featured: historian, information security analyst, sociologist, chemical engineer, and technical writer.
- My Next Move (mynextmove.org) from O*Net Online and the U.S. Department of Labor, asks: “What do you want to do for a living?” You can check out careers in groups, such as those with a bright outlook and registered apprenticeships. or, sort by your interests or how much job prep is needed, from little or none all the way to extensive education and training.
. . . But Be Open to New Directions
Knowing yourself well and being prepared to make good career decisions are important, but also be prepared to discover new things that will open up exciting possibilities. People change jobs—and often change career fields entirely—throughout their lives. Be prepared to keep learning. On the road of life, you’ll run into a few bumps, but with effort, you’ll be ready for the journey, wherever it takes you.