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It’s not always realistic to have high school students make career-aspiration decisions that will decide their future path in the professional world. Whether from a public or home-schooled background, it’s also not uncommon for students entering college to change majors or decide their path requires a different kind of education once they are immersed in their higher education. However, it’s helpful to get those thoughts circulating in high school in order to take the right steps needed for those potential future goals.

how to career plan for your high school student

When helping high school students find a career that will fulfill them as adults, it’s important to take a few things into account. One of them is job satisfaction and why passion is important. Another is how taking assessments can help find the right field to go into.

Once they have a general direction, they should also look into the career opportunities the field in question will have in the future. Furthermore, shadowing a professional in the fields they enjoy might help them to understand what that career will really look like. It’s also beneficial to look at career options that offer alternatives to college, for those students who might not want to pursue the years of schooling that traditional college requires.

The Importance of Job Satisfaction

Ideally, a person’s career will reflect their passions and natural aptitude. Finding a career path that follows a student’s passions is more likely to result in a job that leaves them fulfilled and satisfied. Though there are plenty of aspects of a career that account for job satisfaction, passion is one of them, and it can increase retention and happiness within a field.

Though it can be tempting for students, teachers, and parents to consider lucrative career paths, it’s also important to consider the career path that would be the most fulfilling. Diving into a student’s passions, abilities, and personality can help to narrow down which choice will lead to a job that will be the most satisfying.

How Assessments Can Help

There are many ways to prepare a high schooler for college, and one of them is to help them decide on a major. There are many kinds of assessments that can help a student decide on their passion, a suggested career path, or the type of work they may like to do that can help them decide how to go about career planning. These assessments dig into each person’s personality or interests in a way that they may not be able to do themselves due to feeling overwhelmed, lacking confidence, or being unsure. Many of these assessment tools are free and can help pinpoint strengths, or at least get a feeling for a career direction.

Considering the Job Market

Many young people are able to pinpoint a general interest in a subject or an overall field. In order to narrow their planning, consider looking into each field’s job market. This can help a high school student find a job with a promising future filled with opportunities.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of majors available that don’t have a solidly defined career path once their education is over, which is an equally important aspect to keep in mind. Considering a field’s job market is one way to avoid this problem. For instance, nursing is a career that is listed among the top occupations in terms of career growth. Publishers, on the other hand, rank high on the list of industries that will see the most job loss. As the job market continues to rapidly change, it’s vital to keep informed on career trends to ensure that education choices made now will benefit for the foreseeable future.

Shadowing a Professional

If your high schooler is having a hard time narrowing down their professional career track, try setting up a series of job shadows for them. They can organize each experience in a bullet journal, or by taking detailed notes, and use that information to decide on their next steps for career planning.

They might make a list of each experience’s hours, how often they interact with the public, and how much of the person’s day is dedicated to paperwork. Seeing the day-to-day tasks of a specific career track can be helpful in having a realistic view of what certain careers really look like. You might try reaching out to people you know, or directly to local employers to find willing participants. Though some fields have confidentiality or safety concerns, many will find a way to accommodate.

College Alternatives

Some careers require a college education, but others do not. It’s important to foster the idea that a student’s career choice doesn’t have to be one that requires a 4-year bachelor’s degree. A vocational program or trade school can be a much smarter decision for a student looking to work in a skilled trade like mechanics, welding, electrician work, etc. They may also be more interested in community college, an apprenticeship, joining the military, entrepreneurship, and so on. College alternatives are created in order to provide a career track for those who feel a passion for a field not offered as a college course, or have no desire to go to traditional college, so it’s important to explore those options as well.

Making a career plan can be a daunting task for high school students who are still growing and exploring new things about themselves. Though it is important to start having discussions about the future and possible career tracks, it’s also okay to be unsure right now.

Career planning should be a jumping off point to help high school students begin considering the career path that will leave them feeling fulfilled. By focusing on potential job satisfaction, taking self-assessments, looking at the future job market, shadowing a professional, and considering college alternatives, your high school student should be able to make some helpful strides in their career planning.

Brooke Faulkner is a mom and adventurer in the Pacific Northwest. She loves teaching and learning from her kids. You can see more of her writing on twitter, @faulknercreek


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