Career Exploration and Education

Embarking on a new career path often takes some careful though, research and planning.

Finding the right information is important in making an informed decision, but it can be a useful tool that is difficult to find. Many believe that career exploration is only for those who are freshly out of school and entering the work force for the first time. However, this is far from true, as career changers can also benefit from exploring their career options. Individuals make career changes at different points in their career for a variety of reasons. These reasons include low job satisfaction, wanting to earn more money or have more flexible hours.

Whether you are looking to enter the work force for the first time or simply feel like it is the right time to switch to a new career path, you can find all the resources you need to launch a new successful career. Read the sections below to find out more about your career and education options.

Finding a Career Path

Before shifting to a new career, you must first choose the career path that suits you best. Finding a new career path involves some career exploration as well as some self-assessment. Assessing yourself can help you discover your interests and work values, as well as the kind of jobs that fit your long-term career goals. Conducting a self-assessment can be as simple as asking yourself a few questions, but there are also certain tests you can take that will take the guess-work out of evaluating yourself. There are many different kind of free online tests you can take that measure and analyze your personality and suggest jobs and career paths that match your personality type. Taking one or several of these tests can help guide your search for a new career.

Taking personality and aptitude tests can also be part of a career counseling session. Career counseling is a process by which a counselor that specializes in careers helps individuals understand themselves and their career options better. Counselors assist their clients in figuring out what they want out of their education, career and life. Career counseling can be found at little to no cost. Government organizations, as well as schools offer free counseling. Job resource centers also offer some career guidance, like resume-building workshops and help job searching.

Another way to explore new career paths is through informational interviewing. An informational interview is an informal conversation where an individual that is interested in a particular field asks a worker in that field for information and advice. The purpose of these kinds of interviews is not to search for or find a job, but to gain insight when interest in a particular career path or employer is developed.

Career and Technical Education

For many who are considering a new career, not having the right skills and work experience can be an obstacle to overcome. Enrolling in a career and technical education program can remedy this issue. Career and Technical Education (CTE) provides individuals with the skills and experience needed to enter a specific field that does not require a 4-year college degree.

It is widely believed that a college or university education is the only way to get a good education for a successful and lucrative career. However, this is not always true. There are many well-paying careers and jobs that only require a specific certification or license. Many of the career paths offered at career schools are in high demand, such as careers in nursing, medical imaging, information technology and engineering.

CTE programs are offered at career schools, which go by a few different names: vocational, technical and trade school. Career schools offer programs that provide hands-on training or work experience, which lead to a certificate, a licensure exam or an Associate of Science degree. Some high schools also offer CTE programs as part of their curriculum, allowing high school students to graduate with a certificate or license, and sometimes even a job offer.

Online Career Education

For some individuals, it is difficult to attend school regularly and they may feel as if getting an education is not possible for them. Some may not have access to a school locally, while others may just not have the time. With the advent of online education, it is possible to complete a career preparation program at home on a flexible schedule.

Online career schools offer a wide variety of programs to prepare students for their career. However, some more hands-on career paths are typically not available online, as they require instruction in person. Dedicated online technical or vocational schools typically offer these programs, but many colleges and some universities have departments of continuing or online education that offer online certification courses.

Job-Based Training

Another way to prepare for a career is through job-based training. Job-based training can mean applying for an internship, taking on an apprenticeship or receiving on-the-job training. Training and learning in the workplace is a great way to gain practical skills and work experience necessary for a successful career.

Apprenticeship programs provide individuals with jobs that prepare them for a career in a specific field. These kinds of programs are a mix of on-the-job training provided by an employer and career education through the use of a curriculum and instruction. Completing a program qualifies a registered apprentice to receive a nationally-recognized credential that certifies that the apprentice is fully qualified for the job he or she trained for.

Internships are similar to apprenticeships in that interns receive training and work experience, but that is where the similarities end. Internships are temporary jobs that are offered as either paid or unpaid positions, but provide interns with a working skillset and a resume-building experience. Students at the high school or college level typically use this form of job-based training, but older adults can also intern as a way to gain work experience in a new field.

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