How to Learn about Different Occupations

It is no secret that today’s high-tech world has expanded the types of careers available around the world. With so many ways to make a living, it is difficult to keep up with all of the options available to us. Many people find out about a career they never knew existed later in life and wish they had discovered it sooner. Reading up on occupations and career areas can help you make a decision now that propels you to the future you want.

1. Ask family and friends

Use the people around you to learn about the different careers that are out there. Maybe you know that your uncle is a mechanical engineer. But have you ever asked what he does on a daily basis? Asking questions about other people’s occupations could make you consider a path you may not have considered before. Plus, you can ask about the nitty-gritty details of the job, as your family and friends will be likely to tell you the honest realities of the work (and the path to get there). If you meet someone that seems fascinating, learn more about their professional life. You could find that they have an interesting professional history you may not have expected. Meeting and talking with people provides you valuable insight into what is out there at different stages of experience.

2. Visit your college career office

Talking with someone in the career office can help you see the possibilities your degree and education experience can provide. Aside from speaking with a career adviser, offices typically have resources available about different types of careers and career paths. Check their website for additional resources and links.

3. Use the “major maps” provided by your college

If you are currently in college, you have almost certainly been shown a suggested academic plan for your major of choice by your adviser. Colleges also provide these major plans on their websites. Hopefully your college also has a database that allows you to audit your degree and see how the credits you have would contribute to a different major plan (for those of you thinking about switching). Use these to your advantage, as they can be great tools for understanding your options. You may discover a pattern with what types of classes

4. Go to the library

Libraries not only order books about different occupations, but also host career databases through their websites that help you learn about jobs as well as the steps to finding (and keeping) employment. Check the career section for books that list occupations in groups, or if you are looking for information on a particular sector, such as careers in science, you can search the shelves by subject.

5. Search the Occupational Outlook Handbook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps a catalog of occupations, called the Occupational Outlook Handbook, that lists information such as job description, work environment, pay, employment outlook, and also details the path to go into the occupation. Browse occupations by searching or perusing the OOH’s lists of in-demand, fast-growing, and high-paying jobs. You can also check out America’s Career InfoNet, another resource similar to the OOH.

6. Explore!

Conduct online searches for lists of jobs and see what pops up. Dig deeper into an occupation or area of interest by browsing job listings. Searching job sites such as Indeed, Monster, SimplyHired, and CareerBuilder can help you see the bigger picture. What sorts of jobs are available in your area? Asking questions about what types of skills and qualifications are necessary for a job, as well as what the job itself entails, is valuable for forming your opinion of a career tract. Click on postings that interest you and screenshot the qualifications. Keep a folder on your desktop to track your interests. You may find that you match up with requirements, or if it is a description for a later career, you can identify what you need to do to get there.

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