Career Planning and Salary: Explore Careers

Lesson 2: Explore Careers


Explore careers

What types of positions are currently available in this field? What are the average working conditions and expectations? Will this career be in demand five years from now? Research is critical as you begin exploring different career paths.

In this lesson, you'll learn what to look for as you start researching careers. We'll also talk about various online and direct resources that will help you gather valuable information.

How to research

Before you begin exploring different career paths, it's important to understand what you should be looking for in your research. Asking the right questions can make finding a career a lot easier.

Click the arrows in the slideshow below to learn what information to gather in your career research.

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Research strategies

You should make use of various methods and resources as you gather information about different careers. Taking a diverse approach to your career research will help to ensure the information you collect is accurate and helpful.

Career research guides

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Department of Labor is the most comprehensive resource for researching any career. You'll be able to learn about the nature of the work, normal working conditions, average salaries, projected job outlook, and more.

CareerOneStop is also a powerful career planning tool. A central resource in the new American Job Center Network, it allows you to browse careers that are in demand, compare different occupations, create a career plan, and learn valuable resume writing and interviewing skills.

MyNextMove, on the other hand, will guide you through the career research process and provide a quick, visual summary of the information you need to know. This is a great resource if you're having a difficult time getting started. You might also try another career planning guide, such as

General advice

Career research doesn't just happen online. There are several ways you can learn about careers directly. Let's take a look at some of the most helpful methods.

Obtain first-hand knowledge

Learn directly from someone in the field. You might visit a workplace, job shadow, or interview a person with a position in your potential career. Entry-level positions, internships, and volunteering allow for more in-depth knowledge. You can use volunteer search sites like or to look for internship and volunteer opportunities in your community.

Research industry organizations

Many industries have professional and trade organizations. These organizations can be valuable resources for learning the latest industry trends and training requirements, as well as making connections with the field. You can find different industry organizations by using this list of industry groups on Wikipedia.

Attend a career fair

Career fairs allow you to meet representatives from a variety of different industries and professions you might not otherwise meet. Talking directly with someone from a career field might give you a different perspective on a position or career path. You can find upcoming career fairs in your area on

Visit a career center

Many community centers, libraries, and colleges have career centers with resources that can help you learn more about what to expect from different careers. Visit the Career One Stop service locator page to find career centers near you.

Try this!

  1. Download the Career Research Worksheet (.doc or .pdf).
  2. Navigate to one of the career research websites above to assist you in your research.
  3. Try answering the questions in the worksheet to start researching a career.
  4. Think about how you might use one of the methods above to learn more about a career path.