The steps you take today can drastically change the course of your future career. Though it's not unusual to change career paths during a lifetime, the earlier you start working towards a specific goal the more motivated you may feel to achieve it. Whether your dream job requires eight years of college or none at all, now is the time to learn about your desired industry and start setting goals.
Brainstorm about occupations that interest you. Imagine the type of work you want to do. Would you like to work with many other people or alone? Would you prefer to work in an office or outdoors? Does salary matter to you, or would you rather pursue dreams that may be less financially stable? If you're completely at a loss for ideas, use a personality test to determine which careers match your personality.
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Look up the industry that interests you on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website to see how much education is typically required for a career in that industry. For example, a Registered Nurse may need anywhere from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree in nursing, whereas a postsecondary teacher may need a Ph.D. to even be considered for a job.
Determine what kind of experience or additional training you'll need for a particular career. As more people go on to obtain college degrees, the importance of experience in a particular field increases. You may be able to volunteer or obtain an internship in a certain industry, or you may be able to work as an apprentice or be mentored by a professional.
Hone any skills that are necessary for success in your industry. This can be as simple as practicing piano every day in order to become an accomplished pianist, or taking good care of your body to become a professional athlete. Visit your library to find books about your industry, and read others' success stories to see how they prepared for their careers.
Talk to professionals in your field of interest. You can meet them at conferences, career fairs or even on location where they work. You may also be able to contact some professionals through email or social networking. It may help to ask them what the best and worst parts about their job are, how they got started in their careers and what they would have done differently.
- University of California Berkleley Career Center; How Can I Best Prepare for the Career I'm Considering?
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Registered Nurses; December 2009
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Teachers -- Postsecondary; December 2009
- Minnesota Career & Technical Education: Prepare for a Career!
- Bureau of Labor Statistics