Choosing a Career: 6 Resources

When choosing a career, you should use a variety of self-assessment tools. This list describes several different choices, from counseling to websites.

1: Career Counseling

As a high school or college student, you can use counseling services available on your campus, but there are other counselors available too. A career counselor is usually a trained professional with a graduate degree in counseling and certification as a counselor. A counselor will offer different services to help you in choosing a career. These services may include vocational testing, advice on how to move beyond personal obstructions (like family members who are pushing you toward a career you dislike), and information on the career planning process.

The National Board of Certified Counselors offers a database of counselors on their website, which you can use to find local counselors and determine what services they offer. Career counselors will charge a fee for their services, and any additional testing will incur additional costs.

2: Career OneStop

Career OneStop, a website provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, offers answers to a wide variety of career questions, including choosing a career. The "Explore Career" section of the site offers links to a variety of assessment tools, as well as information on employment trends. A new section on their site contains information on "green careers." The "People and Places to Help" section of the site will put you in touch with local service providers, some that offer their services for free or at a low cost.

3: Personality Career Tests

Some career tests analyze personality and suggest careers based on the personality types that commonly work in those fields. Examples of personality tests include the Myers-Briggs, or the online career test "Career Key," which is based on Holland's Theory of Career Choice and is available in three other languages than English. Counselors need to be certified to provide these tests, so ask the counselor if he or she is certified before you pay for and take the test.

4: Interest Inventories

Other vocational tests, such as the Jackson Vocational Interest Survey (JVIS), measure a person's interests. These tests ask about the tasks that interest you, and you can prefer one task over others even if you have never tried it before. The philosophy of the interest inventory is that you may not have tried a task before, but it interests you, so you are motivated to learn more about the occupations that feature this task.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a "What do you like?" test, where you clicks on what you like, such as "Science." Then the Career Finder takes you directly to five different career choices. This is an example of a very simple interest inventory which is available for free.

5: Aptitude Testing

Aptitude tests measure your ability to perform a task, such as typing or grip strength. Aptitude tests are usually given by an employer during the candidate selection process. The testing and interview process to become a police officer, a pilot or a firefighter all include aptitude testing. If you can find ways to test yourself now, the results may also help you in choosing a career.

6: O*NET

A project of the Department of Labor, O*NET sorts careers by industry, skills, And in the "Find Occupations" section, by how much preparation you need to enter the career. Each occupational profile explains the level of education required, necessary skills and the job outlook. At the bottom of each profile, a pull-down menu will take you to the occupation's outlook by state.

Selecting a service depends on how much you money you have available to spend on the different services, the area where you live and how quickly you need to find work that meets your needs and interests.

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