Career Exploration

Just passed your GED? Wondering what YOU want to do next?

Congratulations! You’ve come to the right place. Your Project Learn teachers and tutors helped you pass the GED exam. That was a great first step, but you can’t stop learning now. Let your GED open the doors to more education—and more opportunities to increase your lifetime earning potential.

A career exploration is a way to learn about jobs and occupations.  For any given job, you can find information such as:

  • Training and education needed
  • Earnings
  • Expected job prospects
  • What workers do on the job
  • Working conditions

Understanding career pathway options can be very helpful for career planning. In this Map Your Career Guide, you’ll learn about current trends, average wages and typical pathways for the following industries: Healthcare; Biotechnology, Life, and Polymer Sciences; Information Technology; Finance, Insurance and Real Estate; Advanced Manufacturing and Skilled Trades.

To help you keep track of the occupational information you find through your research, download the Career Exploration Worksheet.  Your exploration will help you find out more about your skills and interests, and match those to specific occupations.

There are many ways to find information about careers.  These include:

  • Websites
  • Occupational profiles
  • Informational interviews (a meeting in which a job seeker asks for advice rather than employment)
  • Career fairs

    Finding Occupational Information Online (Websites)

    Occupational Outlook Handbook
    A reference about occupations including descriptions of individual occupations and training and education needed for each one.

    America’s Career InfoNet
    The official site for One Stop Career Centers throughout the United States. Offers career resources and workforce information to job seekers, students, businesses, and workforce professionals to foster talent development in a global economy.

    If you are incarcerated or an ex-offender:

    It’s very important to be honest and find out your options before spending time and money preparing to take classes for a particular career. Colleges research criminal backgrounds before accepting students.

    Also, people with certain criminal history records may not be able to study or work in certain fields, especially heath care, finance, or fields that involve working with children.  This depends on your record.  For example, if you have drug offenses on your record, you probably won’t be accepted into a pharmacy school. Or if you were convicted of theft, financial institutions, such as banks, may be less likely to hire you.

    However, don’t assume that you won’t be able to study or work in the field you want. Even if you had problems when you tried to get a job in the past, most people with criminal history records are still eligible for financial aid and can get into college.  If your record contains only misdemeanors, or if your offenses are from a long time ago and you haven’t been in trouble since then, you may not have a problem.

    And, even if a criminal record might prevent you from getting some jobs, earning a college degree is a great way to give yourself options to work in other areas.

    Here are some key steps to take before you start your job search:

    • Educate yourself about what exactly appears on your criminal record
    • Know how to present your record in the best way possible during an interview
    • Make a folder with letters of recommendation from probation officers, clergy, counselors, or anyone whose opinion would be respected.  Ask them to explain that you are now working hard and trying to be a valuable member of society.

    Handling Your Criminal Record

    It is very important to get a copy of your criminal record so you can see what schools and employers may be able to learn about you (if they have permission to look at your records).

    National HIRE
    The National Helping Individuals with criminal records Re-enter through Employment Network is a national clearinghouse for information and an advocate for policy change. Use this website to find agencies and organizations that may be of assistance in providing job-related and legal services, answering questions arising from having a criminal record, or offering referrals to other useful organizations.

    Another reason it is important to see your records is that there are mistakes.  There may be inconsistent items, and perhaps crimes you were acquitted of or that were dismissed, or other special situations. Some crimes, like sexual assault, may stay on your record for life.