Many high school students simply do not know what to say when they are asked, “What are you going to do after you graduate high school?” And while the answer to that question will certainly affect the student for many years, students should remember that it is not a decision that cannot be changed later. High schoolers should learn all they can about different careers via online research, identify areas that interest them, and then find out what it takes to get started in the careers that interest them most.

Discovering Careers   

There are numerous ways to find out about potential careers. There is certainly a vast store of knowledge available online, but at the same time, don’t neglect talking to people. A lot can be learned about different career fields simply by asking people who work in different areas to tell you about what they do for a living. For example, if you happen to meet someone who looks like he is having fun doing his job, ask him to tell you about his job—what led him to this type of work, what preparation was involved, what he likes about it, what challenges he faces with the job, etc. Most people will be happy to speak to interested students, especially about their own work.

Career Surveys 

When you are just getting started trying to find a career, you might be lost as to where to start. What should you do? What type of field should you try? The best place to start is to look at careers related to things that you enjoy doing. However, that doesn’t always lead to obvious careers.

Another good way to get started is with career surveys. Most high school guidance counselors will have access to career surveys to help guide students, but the Internet can also help here, providing access to hundreds of different surveys, often for free.

Be careful when searching for and using online career surveys. Plenty of surveys and sites are designed to sell you their products and services. To find less biased surveys, look for sites that are related to college or government agencies. Some sites, such as this one, help you search out college majors that match your interests. Other sites such as Career One Stop can help you assess your skills and interests and then point out different careers that are related to specific things that you like and enjoy.

The CareerOneStop site is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and can help you search and research different career options, including salaries and trends for future employment in each field. To get started, from the main page select the “Explore Careers” option in the upper left corner. That will load a page that has a link for “Find Assessments” in the center of the page. The next page that loads will have a list of four different ways you can research which careers might be a good fit for you, including a skills profiler, ability profiler, interest profiler, and work importance locator. Thoroughly examine each of these sections, and you will find various careers to explore.

Occupational Outlook Website 

Once you have found a career to explore, there are a good number of resources that are also available online to help you identify the career in detail. One of the best sites for clear career exploration is the Occupational Outlook Handbook site hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor. This site is an expansion of the Occupational Outlook Handbook that has been published by the U.S. Department of Labor since 1949. The handbook was first designed to help returning World War II veterans find employment. Today the handbook has been updated and expanded and includes information about pay, education, training, and the outlook for nearly every type of career in the United States.