Choosing a Career Path


Ask anyone you know over the age of 30 if they knew all of their options when they were making post-secondary plans and choosing a career and you’ll probably get a similar answer: “I wish I knew more in high school.” Even the best plans can be derailed or postponed when life happens, so it’s important to know what your options are. Are you ready for life after high school? College ready? Career ready?

There are many different ways to be successful, and life after high school is typically more “choose your own adventure” than “one size fits all.” College, work-based learning, and military service (or a combination of the three) are all potential paths to your dream job. One of the wisest strategies you can execute now to prepare for the future is educating yourself about your options.

Learn about yourself. Find out what you’re good at, and identify your work-related interests. This may seem obvious, but these two factors are most likely to determine your level of career satisfaction.

Learn about the world of work. Use your skills and interests to identify career fields that match. Then, evaluate what people working in that job field do (and if it sounds like something you would enjoy doing), what the earning potential is, and what the job outlook is.

Evaluate what it takes to enter that career field, and consider if you’re willing to do what is required to get there. Remember: Choosing the college route does not exclude you from work-based learning or military opportunities, and vice versa. If you’re not ready for college, consider entering the workforce. If you’re not ready for the military, try starting with college. If you can’t afford college, you may want to start with the military. Knowing your available options will keep you moving toward your goal, regardless of the path you choose.

Understand that this process will continue throughout your life. You will likely revisit these steps again and again, but the foundation is always the same: skills, interests, and options.

Career exploration is what you make it! Broadening, not narrowing, your options results in more significant and informed planning. That way, when you look back, you won’t say, “I wish I knew more in high school.

If your school is offering the ASVAB Career Exploration Program, be sure to sign up! It’s not only for those who want to join the military. The test predicts your trainability so you’ll know which areas of work you are most likely to excel in. There are also program resources designed to help you identify your interests and build an action plan to make informed career decisions. Learn more at! 

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