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Teen Career Choices: Like It Now, Do It Later

Updated on November 11, 2018
Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.

Teens that enjoy working outside can consider a career in landscaping, floral design, horticulture, farming, etc.
Teens that enjoy working outside can consider a career in landscaping, floral design, horticulture, farming, etc. | Source

Teens often have trouble deciding what type of career is best for them. Many teens think the best job for them is the one that will make them the most money. That money may pay their bills, but in the long run, could make them very unhappy. The best choice of career for a teen, or for anyone for that matter, is a career that they have an interest in that will also be able to support them financially. One of the best clues to finding a satisfying career is discovering what they like to do now, and incorporate that into a career they can do later.

Job vs. Career

Often those two terms are interchanged, and teens don't understand the difference. A job is something someone goes to every day to work a certain number of hours per week to make money in exchange for the work completed. A job sometimes requires extra training, but training is usually given at the workplace. A career is a long-term pursuit of goals that usually require further education or outside training such as at a vocational school. There is more long-term satisfaction in a career because it involves work in a field of choice. Many different choices of work and workplaces can be involved in a career, and the pay is often better with a position in a career field because the employee has had more training to obtain the skills needed.

Job Examples:

Waitress/ waiter, gas station attendant, cashier, car wash attendant, janitor, fast food worker, grocery stock attendant, produce clerk, deli worker, dishwasher, restaurant hostess, taxi driver, parking lot attendant, limousine driver, bus driver, toll taker, print shop worker, assembly line worker in a factory, event ticket taker, security guard, etc.

Career Examples:

Teacher, doctor, lawyer, social worker, counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, researcher, college professor, chef, hairdresser, massage therapist, engineer, scientist, writer, minister, coach, physical therapist, auto mechanic, electrician, plumber, computer repair technician, police officer, accountant, librarian, college admissions representative, nurse, dentist, veterinarian, horse breeder, dog groomer, financial planner, funeral director, recreation director, high school guidance counselor, probation officer, pharmacist, television screenwriter, actor, movie director, professional photographer, meat cutter, baker, florist, medical assistant, politician, etc.

Interest Inventories

Financially it is more sound to have a career than just a job because not only is it more emotionally satisfying, but more financially satisfying as well. There are various pathways to finding the best career for an individual. One way is to take a career interest inventory. These are available online, and also through most high school Career Centers. The more inventories a person can take, the better because if answered honestly, the inventories can lead to careers the person hadn't thought of before. Also, when one or more career choices pop up consistently on the results survey, those are careers that the inventory taker should seriously consider as something they have a strong interest in as a career.

Make a List of Current Interests and Activities

An easier way to start sorting out what career is best though is to discover what interests a teen has now, and how that can be converted into a career later. Making a list of what interests the teen is the best way to start. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. In the left-hand column, make a list of all the activities the teen enjoys currently. Even crazy off the wall activities that someone doesn't think could ever translate into a career should be listed. On the right-hand side can be a list of careers each interest could lead to. If someone is having trouble coming up with a list of careers based on an activity or interest, asking friends and family to brainstorm will often lead to interesting ideas. If that doesn't work, there's always the choice of using Google to find a career to match an interest.

Here's an example of activities and interests that teens like now, that can transfer into a career later:

Interest/Activity Now...................................................... Career Later

Babysitting: Teacher, professional nanny, pediatrician, children's librarian, recreation director at a YMCA, town recreation department, daycare provider, a child psychologist.

Travel: Professional pilot, steward/stewardess, travel agent, cruise director, a ship captain.

Drawing: Cartoonist, artist, technical illustrator for medical books, police sketch artist, video game designer.

Computers: Video game designer, computer repair technician, website designer, graphic designer, a software engineer.

Helping people: Social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, firefighter, doctor, nurse, certified nursing assistant, hospitality manager at a hotel, resort director, recreation director in a nursing home.

Watching Television: TV screenwriter, videographer, movie reviewer.

Fashion: Fashion designer, costume designer for plays and TV/ movies, store merchandiser, model, writer for a fashion magazine.

Plants: Florist, landscaper, landscape designer, botanist, ecologist, environmentalist.

Science: Researcher, chemist, botanist, biologist, physicist, pharmacist, doctor, X-ray technician, nurse, ultrasound technician, an anesthesiologist.

Food: Food critic, chef, caterer, cook at a restaurant, owning a restaurant, writing cookbooks.

Animals: Pet sitter, veterinarian, vet assistant, dog groomer, horse breeder, stable assistant, pet store owner, fish hatchery worker, zookeeper, farm worker/owner, kennel owner/worker.

Writing: Author, magazine writer, editor, copywriter, columnist, journalist.

Talking: Telephone operator, professional speaker, phone counselor, tour guide.

Sewing: Seamstress, clothing designer, interior decorator, costume designer for plays and movies.

Photography: Professional portrait photographer, hospital baby picture photographer, crime scene photographer, commercial photographer, a fashion photographer.

Organizing: A professional organizer for homes and offices, hotel manager, convention planner, wedding planner, office administrator.

History: Museum director, paleontologist, archeologist, anthropologist, tour guide, teacher or professor.

Foreign Language: Interpreter, ambassador, teacher, tour guide, researcher, translator.

Sports: Athletic director, coach, sports manager, sports writer, athletic trainer, Physical Education teacher, physical therapist.

Math: Accountant, statistician, teacher, banker, actuary, financial planner.

Hair and makeup: Cosmetologist, hairdresser.

Political Science: Lawyer, politician, speech writer, campaign organizer, lobbyist.

While still in high school, teens have time to explore their interests and take classes on subjects they may be interested in later as a career. Interest Inventories and brainstorming on current interests can save a lot of time and money later when it's time to graduate high school and move on to the next step in their lives. It's best to find out the interests they have now so they can do it later as a career and not only be able to support themselves financially, but also enjoy their work on a daily basis as well.

I love this book for adults, and here is the teen version. It helps narrow down dream careers for teens who would like some direction in that area.

© 2012 Karen Hellier


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