Explore Careers

Now that you know what your skills, interests, and work values are you are ready to explore occupations. You should know which occupations match who you are before you apply for jobs.

Why You Need to Explore Careers

What Career Changers Need to Know

As a job seeker you have many options for your job search: you can change occupations, change industries, or look for a job in the same occupation and industry you have been in. This process also works for job seekers that have been out of the workforce for a long period of time.

Here are some things you need to know about yourself and the job market before you explore occupations and/or industries:

Find Career Information

Start researching occupations.
Using the occupations you listed in the Occupations that Match Your Assessments activity you can go online and use the Occupational profile tool to find more information about each specific occupation.

For each occupation, pay attention to:

Use the Occupational Research Summary (pdf) worksheet to keep track of your research.

Where else can you find career information?

Informational Interviewing

One of the best sources for gathering information about what's happening in an occupation or an industry is to talk to people working in the field. This process is called informational interviewing. An informational interview is an interview that you initiate - you ask the questions. The purpose is to obtain information, expand your personal network, and build relationships; not to get a job.

Following are some good reasons to conduct an informational interview:

Listed below are steps to follow to conduct informational interviews:

  1. Prepare for the Interview
    Read all you can about the field prior to the interview. Decide what information you would like to obtain about the occupation/industry. Prepare a list of questions that you would like to have answered.
  2. Identify People to Interview
    Start with lists of people you already know - friends, relatives, fellow students, present or former co-workers, supervisors, neighbors, etc... Professional organizations, the yellow pages, organizational directories and public speakers are also good resources. You may also call an organization and ask for the name of the person by job title. 
  3. Arrange the Interview by contact the individual:
    a: by telephone,
    b: by a letter followed by a telephone call, or
    c: by having someone who knows the person make the appointment for you.
  4. Prepare for the meeting. Make a list of questions you would like answered.
  5. Dress appropriately, arrive on time, and be polite and professional.
  6. Conduct the Interview.
    Refer to your list of prepared questions; stay on track, but allow for spontaneous discussion. Before leaving, ask your contact to suggest names of others who might be helpful to you and ask permission to use your contact's name when contacting these new contacts. 
  7. Immediately following the interview, record the information gathered.
  8. Follow Up with any contacts you were given or requests made by the person you are interviewing.
  9. Be sure to send a thank-you note to your contact within one week of the interview.

NOTE: Always analyze the information you've gathered. Adjust your job search, résumé, and career objective if necessary.

20 Suggested QUESTIONS!
Prepare a list of your own questions for your informational interview. Following are some sample questions:

Making long-term goals or thinking about a future career change?

Thinking about starting or changing careers in a few years? Then look at the growth of occupations. Sometimes that is called long-term projections, or growth rate. "High-growth" occupations are also called "in-demand" or "bright outlook" careers. An occupation with high growth is likely to need many workers in the next few years.

Need to make a career change or find employment right now?

Job vacancy reports help you to know which industries need workers right now. Job vacancies show the occupations that employers were recently hiring. They also show the average pay, and the training employers required of those they hired. Reviewing this information will tell you what industry to look into if you need a job immediately.

Career Exploration Resources 

What Are Career Clusters?

Career clusters are one way to group occupations. Careers that need the same knowledge and skills are in the same cluster. Every career that you can think of is in one of 16 career clusters. Each cluster can include hundreds of different careers.

Using clusters can help you to look at few career choices without focusing on only one occupation. If you target one specific career choice too soon you might miss other options that might be a good fit for you.

The 16 Career Clusters

Exploring Health Care Careers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the health care industry will have the largest growth in jobs compared to all other industries. In the next few years 26% of all new jobs will be created in the health care and social assistance industry. This includes jobs in public and private hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, individual care, and family services. That equals an estimated 4 million new job opportunities.
Below is a short list of some of the health care occupations that will experience growth in Texas. Using your Interest code from Assess Yourself, you can begin exploring some of these occupations.

Occupation Interest
Education Average annual
Average annual
job openings
IR Bachelor's degree $86,500 140
ISR Associate's degree $64,300 240
Home Health
SRC High school diploma plus
on-the-job training.
$18,500 5220
Personal Care
SRC High school diploma plus
on-the-job training.
$17,700 7680
CS High school diploma plus
on-the-job training.
$28,900 3380
SR Associate's degree and on-
the-job training.
$63,700 110
Technologist and
RIS Associate's degree and on-
the-job training.
$51,000 180
SRI Associate's degree and on-
the-job training.
$64,500 250
Health Educators SE Bachelor's degree $46,700 210
SIR Associate's degree and
$54,100 570
RS Associate's degree and on-
the-job training.
$52,000 790
Technician and
SIR Some college. $29,700 810
Social Worker
SIA Master's degree in social work. $53,400 470
SIA Master's degree $81,700 410
RIC Associate's degree and on-
the-job training.
$39,500 200

For a listing of all health care occupations that will experience growth, go to the Virtual Career Network. This site will provide educational requirements, a description of the occupation, average annual salary, and expected job growth for each occupation.