The next step I like to take with students is to introduce them to O*NET Online. Now, prepare yourself. O*NET Online is affiliated with the US Department of Labor, which means they have an absolute treasure trove of information about prospective careers. But, like many government websites, it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing. I often talk to my students about not ruling out a particular college because their website is hard to navigate – a difficult website does not correlate to a poorly run college. And the same thing applies here; just because O*NET Online isn’t straight out of a Squarespace advertisement doesn’t make it any less useful.
The first place I bring students is to the Advanced Search tab, which allows you to look for jobs based on occupational themes or, as they call them, interests. Clicking on “Realistic” will take you to 100 sample professions that fall in that category, organized by “job zone.” This is one of my favorite elements of O*NET Online.
Job zones correspond to the level of training required for a particular profession from 1 (little training) to 5 (extensive training). What I love so much about this is that it distills each occupational theme down to its fundamental quality. For example, a realistic occupation with a job zone of 1 would be a fast food cook. It’s a concrete task that involves things rather than concepts and follows a set procedure that gets executed repeatedly. A realistic occupation with a job zone of 5 would be a surgeon. Again, a concrete task that involves things more than concepts and follows a set procedure; but repairing human bodies is more complicated than making hamburgers and thus requires much more training.
You can also combine themes in the advanced search, looking for jobs that are both realistic and social (like a sheriff or an athletic trainer). And the advanced search results indicate green occupations that are going to be in greater demand as we move toward a green economy, like bus drivers for example, who will be more and more necessary as larger numbers of people start taking public transportation. There is also a designation for jobs that have a bright outlook, or are likely to grow faster than average, increasing 10% or more over the next 10 years.
While O*NET Online might not be the shiniest website you’ve ever seen, it is a wildly helpful place to start getting ideas for prospective jobs that fit your occupational themes. I encourage you all to start playing around with it and to find the the careers that are right for you.