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Your Career

Explore Your Occupational Options

When planning your career, it's important to explore the occupations you’re interested in and maybe discover some new ones.

The second step in the 4 step career planning process is to explore your occupational options. Start by making a list of occupations and industry sectors (for example, the transportation or energy sector) that you want to explore. You may already have some options in mind.

Here are some suggestions to help you create or add to your list:

  • List your favourite school subjects. Now go to OCCinfo. Use the search filters for “High School Subjects” and “Field of Study” to find occupations suited to your favourite subjects.
  • Search the web for an interest + occupations (for example, enter horses + occupations). See what turns up.
  • Explore labour market information.
  • Learn some decision-making strategies.
  • Learn more about occupations.

Ask questions

Find out as much as you can about the occupations and industry sectors that interest you. Begin by listing the questions you want answered. Here are some to get you started:

Work activities and conditions

  • What are the day-to-day activities, duties, and responsibilities in this line of work?
  • What are the typical working conditions? For example, is it outdoor or indoor work?
  • What are the hours of work?
  • Is travel or overtime required?
  • What are the health hazards?

Skills and traits

Education and training

  • What type of education do you need? For example, do you need high school or post-secondary training? Is an apprenticeship required?
  • Do you need a specific licence, certificate, degree, or diploma to do this type of work?
  • What training do most people in this type of work have? For example, were they trained on the job? Or did they graduate from a specific type of training program?
  • Which training programs are most respected by employers in the field?
  • If graduation from a training program is required, where is this training offered? How long does the training take to complete? How much does it cost?

Other requirements

  • Does the work have any special physical requirements? For example, will you need to be able to lift heavy objects?
  • Does the work have any legal requirements? For example, will you need a specific class of driver’s licence?
  • Does the work have social requirements? For example, will you have to entertain clients in the evenings or on weekends?

Pay, benefits, and career prospects

  • What is the typical pay range for this type of work?
  • What other benefits are typically offered?
  • What are the chances for career development and advancement?
  • What are the future job prospects and workplace trends?
  • How will changes in technology and society affect this type of work? Will it still be needed in 5 years? In 10 years?

Find answers through research

Check out the following resources to find answers to your questions about different occupations:

Find answers by talking to people

People who work in an occupation or industry that interests you are great sources for up-to-date information. So are people who have specific education or training for that work. You may learn information that’s difficult to find any other way.

Try these suggestions to reach people who can answer your questions:

  • Network to find out more about your career options. If you know people who do work that interests you, ask them about their work and other similar types of work. Also ask them to refer you to other people they know.
  • Do some informational interviews. In other words, talk to people about their work and industry. It’s easier to talk to people you already know or have been referred to by a mutual friend. But you can also consider making some “cold calls” to get the information you need.

Get hands-on experience

Some answers you can only get through hands-on experience. Try these options to get a feel for a program, occupation, or industry that interests you:

  • Take a non-credit course through your local school board or at a post-secondary school.
  • Volunteer.
  • Take an entry-level job or arrange to job shadow.

Think about your values and interests

Now that you have gathered some information, go back to the work values and interests you identified in the first step of career planning. Your values guide the way you relate to the world. Together with your interests, they steer you toward doing or not doing things.

If your values or interests are not being met, you may feel as if something is missing. And because we all have a number of different values and interests, we can’t usually fulfil them all in one role.

Luckily, our lives are made up of a number of roles. We can be parents, students, friends, artists, and community members, just to name a few. So you can meet different needs through different roles. For example:

  • An assembly line job may give you the routine and security you value. But you may coach your sister’s soccer team because you also value influence and contact with people.
  • You may love exploring knowledge as a librarian. But you also need to satisfy your interest in physical activity by taking kickboxing classes.

As you explore your career options, look at which of your values and interests are not being addressed. Can you think of ways to include these missing elements by combining roles?

What options do you see for yourself so far?

Now that you have researched some occupations, looked at trends, and thought about how your values and interests fit in, which options seem the most promising? The next step will be to evaluate your career options so you can narrow your focus and start making a plan.






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