How to Research Careers
Before choosing a career field or degree, it's important to do your research. If you have not done so, taking the free career test on this site (if you have not done so already) can provide you with a list of careers that match your interests.
Once you have a list of careers you want to research, you can start with finding out the careers:
- Career Growth (Occupational Outlook)
- Educational Requirements
It's important to stress looking up the career's projected growth. Once you are trained for a career, you want to ensure you can get a job. Some career fields have zero growth and some are even in the negative. Also, technology changes so fast that there is potential that a career fields projected growth can change. If just starting out and gaining your first two years of college education, check the projected careers growth again to make sure you are still up-to-date on the projected outcome of the career you are pursuing.
When researching the career, also review what type of tasks you will likely perform each day and consider whether you would be happy doing those tasks each day. The good news, all this information can be found on two websites.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has a free online Occupational Handbook. Visit their site and type in the name of the career you are interested in.
Salary and Growth Rate: Check out the summary of the career to find out salary and growth rate. You can also view the educational requirements.
Visit an Online Job Board
You can also conduct career research by reviewing online job boards such as Indeed.com or CareerBuilder.com. Career postings on these siets will give you an idea of what employers are looking for in qualified candidates in your interested career field. You can also check out career postings for your local area or closest metropolitan city to scope out whether there are many career opportunities and gain an estimate of how much you might get paid.
Looking at job boards is a proactive way to ensure your education and experience will align with employer needs. You may be able to pick up a volunteer or intern position over a summer that will give you the experience you need to gain a competitive edge. Or perhaps there is a technology that would be useful to learn that will make your resume stand out from others.
By the way, career descriptions on job boards can be overwhelming sometimes. Often, the description lists all of the expertise an employer would like a candidate to have with the understanding that most candidates may not have 100% of those skills. Do not lose confidence if the description of skills seems impossible to attain. Review the job postings for common skills requested and focus on the most important.
Shadow or Interview Someone
If you know someone who is already working in the career you are interested in, interview that person. Ask what they like and what they don't about the career field. It's also a good idea to ask their advice when starting out in the career field and what employers are looking for. A bonus would be to ask if you can shadow them at work one day.
Check out our Career Research Worksheet.
The health field has numerous positions that constantly leads in pay and occupational growth rate. You can take a free Health Career Test if interested in exploring a career in health care.