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High School Life Skills: Career Exploration

High School Life Skills: Career Exploration

Deciding what you want to be when you grow up can be an overwhelming task for teenagers. In most cases they lack the life experience to really know what they excel at and what they love to do that will realistically allow them to earn money as an adult. As homeschoolers we have to be sure to take the opportunity to include career exploration as part of our child’s high school life skills.

High School Life Skills: Career Exploration from Starts At Eight

Helping your children find a career path can seem like a daunting task. There are so many unknowns, so many unanswered questions.

The good news is, THEY HAVE TIME! While living in your home, and navigating high school, they have the time to answer questions like:

  • What am I good at?
  • What interests me?
  • What skills do I possess that might help me earn a living?
  • How can I turn my interests and skills into a rewarding and engaging career path for myself?

Career Exploration for Teens

There are a bunch of ways you and your teen can navigate through career exploration. Some options are more academic like skills tests and research, and some are much more hands on like volunteer work or shadowing.

One such test you might try is the Myers & Briggs test which helps you determine personality traits and how they relate to the world around you.

Career Exploration Resources

From online resources, to free assessments, unit studies, and books, these are some of the best resources I have found for helping you and your child navigate the career exploration process.

The Old Schoolhouse WannaBe series

The Old Schoolhouse WannaBe Series

This WannaBe series includes such professions as Artist, Chef , Doctor , Farmer , Firefighter, Police Officer, Military, Missionary, Pilot, Veterinarian, and Video Game Designer.

Each of these E-Books is filled with hands-on learning opportunities and fun. As an occupational study guide, these E-Books are designed to provide something for every age group well from the 4- to 10-year-old range to the an 8- to 13-year-old age group. Special activities are included for all these ages.

While these may feel a little young for high school students, they truly are great references with useful insights into each one of the professions they cover.

Online Resources

1. CareerOneStop РThis site is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.  It can help you search for and research different career options. It includes such information as salaries and trends for future employment in each field. I love that it includes a section on self exploration to help you find the career that might be best for you by offering up interest and skills assessments. Once your child has taken these assessments it will point them in the direction of different carer options specifically related to their interests and skills.

2. Occupational Outlook Handbook¬†–¬† This site is also hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor. Here you can find information about pay, education, training, and the outlook for nearly every type of career in the United States.

DK Careers – The Graphic Guide to Finding The Perfect Job for You

Career Exploration - DK Careers Book from Starts At Eight

This is by far the best book I have seen on this topic! Careers: The Graphic Guide to Finding the Perfect Job for You is comprehensive without being overwhelming, covering over 400 career profiles. Every job is featured as a two page spread, including at a gland summary panels that provide information such as salary figures, working hours, required training, and career path maps. {Many thanks to DK Publishing for providing the book to us for review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

Career Exploration - Career at A Glance

This book takes your teen on a journey, helping them to identify the path their lives might take. It starts by having them think about their own path and understanding what makes them unique.

Career Exploration - Sample Career Page

Using 15 different larger job categories such as Sales/Marketing/Advertising or Animals/Farming/The Environment it offers your teen the chance to take what interests them or what strengths they see themselves as having, and follow a math to possible career paths that might be a good fit for them.

I love that this book offers a visually pleasing, well laid out look into career exploration that is not overwhelming for teens. It is easy to understand, and can get them on their way to thinking about and doing more research into what careers might be a possibility for them.

Career Exploration Actions

Taking the time to help your teen learn about themselves, what they like and don’t like, tasks they excel at and tasks they struggle with, is an important process for teens. Beyond just doing research and reading, there are some more hands on, interactive actions your teen can use to explore possible career paths.

1. Shadowing

Shadowing involves your teen simply observing occupations at work. Maybe they think they want to be a nurse, so you find a nurse friend whom they can go to work with on a given day. While they may not be able to be in every space and every room, they can get a better feel for the type of schedule and tasks which are involved in that job. They can also find out about their college experience, which can help them to learn about educational options such as fast track nursing programs.

Shadowing people that are in career fields that might interest your teen is a great way to see first hand what those job really look like. They may realize that what they thought was a hands on job, is more of a paperwork job, and that isn’t what they had in mind.

2. Volunteer Work

Volunteer work involves your teen being old enough and able to complete a given task. For instance as my daughter grew into her teens years she was able to volunteer her time as a gymnastics coach. (She is a competitive gymnast herself.) She worked alongside an experienced coach, helping them run their preschool gymnastics classes. It offered her a ton of hands on experience and has led to a paying job which she loves.

You teen can volunteer at many places such as animal shelters, community outreach programs, even in offices. This will offer them not only a first hand look at various jobs, but allow them to try their hand at some of the tasks involved in a given profession.

Other Life Skills Information

Career Exploration for High School Students from Starts At Eight

Life Skills on Pinterest

Life Skills Pinterest Board from Starts At Eight

Life Skills Articles

Plan Your High School Electives: Free Printable Pack from Starts At Eight


  1. » High School Life Skills: Career Exploration
    Mar 21, 2015 @ 07:55:44

    […] Deciding what you want to be when you grow up can be an overwhelming task for teenagers. In most cases …read more       […]

  2. Amy
    Mar 22, 2015 @ 13:34:53

    I think letting our kids know that you don’t need to know what you want to do heading into college and it’s perfectly okay to change your mind. My oldest daughter is 21 and after graduating from homeschool went to community college, earned her AA in Liberal Arts and now is working on obtaining her Paralegal Certificate which she will get in May. Upon entering college, she was clueless as to her future. She learned that with her interest in Government and her keen English skills, a Paralegal would be a good, stable career for her. My 19 year old son is attending our local Barber school. And my youngest daughter is 15 and wants to be a personal trainer. All careers that I find to be respectable but others look down on. What do your high schoolers want to be?

  3. Heidi
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 08:59:52

    Amy, I don’t think our children need to know what they are going to do heading into college, but I think it helps to get them thinking about it and trying things out during their high school years. Our teen is currently planning on continuing to coach gymnastics through her years at community college where she is considering a degree as an x-ray tech. While I believe there are those that believe coaching gymnastics is not as respectable as other professions, if that is what she ends up doing, and she is still as happy with it as she is now, then I will be thrilled for her.

  4. Ann
    Mar 24, 2015 @ 15:37:01

    I love the resources here. I’ve had two that knew exactly what they wanted to study in college — and that greatly helps in the college search process, which can get overwhelming otherwise. I’ve had one that wasn’t so sure and may end up transferring schools if she changes her mind from what she started out in. I will send her some of these links! And then my high school sophomore this year has absolutely no clue‚Ķ so ALL of these resources will come in handy for him. Gotta love this exciting time of life! ūüôā

  5. Heidi
    Mar 24, 2015 @ 15:55:34

    Ann, I am so glad that even someone who has children who have been through this can find these resources useful!

  6. KarenTrina
    Mar 25, 2015 @ 09:02:27

    I agree with Ann. The resources here are helpful, even for someone who has children who have gone through the process. A couple of my children did know what they wanted to do and some weren’t sure, but my youngest is also clueless! She will be a senior next year, so we will look at some of these resources.

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