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Career Exploration

Career Decision-Making

Making career decisions is a lifelong process. Career decision-making begins with you, your awareness of the world around you, and your ability to understand what is important to you. It is also about understanding your abilities, interests, skills, and values and combining these to create a meaningful career plan. Consider careers that require some of the same traits. You will be more satisfied if your career is a good fit.

These steps can help you to get started with your career decision-making.

Step 1 - Learn About Yourself

You can take assessments to learn about your interests, skills, values, and abilities with CHOICES Planner. Go to Select Create a new portfolio. You can create a portfolio at your school or site by selecting your county and then your school name. Fill in the requested information and your work will be saved in your portfolio. You can access your portfolio from any computer with Internet access by signing in with your portfolio name and password. Select the WORK tab to find assessments on the right, such as the Interest Profiler, Work Importance Locator, and Basic Skills Survey.

Step 2 - Explore Occupations

Your assessment results will generate a matching list of occupations. Select the title of an occupation and explore by selecting the blue tabs on the top left. You can find out about the education level required, the average wage, and other important information for each career.
As you explore ask questions such as these:

  • What are the tasks performed in the occupation?
  • Does this occupation match my interests, skills, values, and abilities?
  • What are the educational requirements? Where can I get this kind of training?
  • Where can I get this kind of training?
  • How can I pay for this education?
  • Does this job require travel?
  • What are the health and retirement benefits generally found in this line of work?
  • How much money will this occupation pay?

In addition to exploring occupations in CHOICES Planner, you can:

  • Talk with family and friends about their work experiences.
  • Observe individuals in the workplace.
  • Collect information about specific careers and companies.
  • Experience different careers through volunteer or part-time work, or school internship, co-op, job shadowing, and apprenticeship programs.

You can also explore occupations from the WORK tab by selecting a Career Cluster or from the alphabetical list. You can then connect occupations to programs of study and postsecondary schools.

Step 3 - Compare Occupations

Analyze each option and compare the associated facts, possible lifestyle implications, positive and negative aspects, and overall impact on life. For instance, the type of work may be more important to you than where you live or how much money you make.

Step 4 - Make a Choice

You don't need to decide on a specific career title but the exploration should help you to narrow down your choice to a particular career cluster.

Step 5 - Develop an Action Plan

Develop a career and education plan that includes activities and a timetable to prepare for your career goals. Include short and long-term goals. Most jobs today require postsecondary education and/or training so decide how much education/training you need, where you can get it, and how you will pay for it.

Step 6 - Take Action

You've taken steps to organize your life with short and long-term goals. Make sure you follow your timeline.

Step 7 - Review and Revise

Evaluate the progress and outcomes of your career decision. Revise steps as things in your life may change. Your interests may change or life events may send you in another direction.

If you are in school, talk to a counselor or career specialist to discuss your options. If out of school, your local One-Stop Center, can assist you with training options and finding jobs. Also you can go to the Map section and see what is available in your area.