How to Research Career Paths

If you're thinking about a new career and aren't sure where to start, you might do a little job research before you make any decisions. A new career can be exciting, but doing your homework to make the best choice is key to maximizing your time and money.

How to Research Career Paths
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Overview
Although the Internet can be an excellent starting point for researching career paths, one of the most valuable job research tools is personal networking. Once you get an idea of what jobs interest you, spend time talking to persons who work in the field and then use that information to target your education, professional development, and volunteer activities. Try to determine how one position may lead to another, to envision a career path.
Step 1
Consult with a career counselor. If you are a student, your school's career center or academic counseling department can help you research career paths and find job tracks that match your skills and interests. If you are already in the workforce, the employment office in your city may have career development counselors available who can talk to you about what training and skills you will need to change industries or progress in your field.
Step 2
Network with persons working in fields that interest you. If you already have an idea of an industry you would like to work in, contact persons working in that field and discuss what type of work they do and what positions are available in their companies. If you are able to speak with someone working in human resources, they may also be able to tell you potential salary ranges for those careers.
Step 3
Get an internship. If you are a college student or recent graduate, an internship can give you an inside look into an industry or specific company and allow you to see first-hand what various careers entail.
Step 4
Use information compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers an Occupational Outlook handbook that gives career researchers a detailed description of what various jobs entail, how much they pay, and what education and experience is required for each job.
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Resources
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Career Research Checklist
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Job Networking Tips
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U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook