Helping high school students choose a career? Career sites for high school students plus free career exploration activities for high school students.
Helping high school students choose a career?
It’s an awesome thing to give teens motivation and purpose behind their education – experts say this can increase their focus, interest, and even get more of your students to graduate.
The thing is: most students can’t name very many careers or job types. It’s because they haven’t been exposed to tons of industries, careers, vocations, or even jobs.
That's why career awareness and career exploration for students is so important at this stage in life.
These career sites for high school students will help them to first cast a broad net into career and skillset exploration, and then to narrow their lists down enough so that that they can do meaningful career and job research.
Helping High School Students Choose a Career
Before we jump into these great websites, let's put a little structure to how you can help a high school student choose a career.
Plus, let's manage our expectations a bit. I mean, it's not 100% likely that a high school student is able to pick out what they want to be (even after they go through all this career exploration) at this age.
And that's okay!
I think it's important to help them narrow down 2-4 possible fields, and then put in some research into those. Using the websites below.
Here are some steps to help high schoolers pick 2-4 career fields to research:
Step #1: Skillset Identification
First, you need to help a student figure out what their skill set is.
Step #2: Interests Identification
Then, you need to help them figure out what they’re interested in doing, that is a paid position.
Step #3: Match Skillset and Interests to Career Fields
Where these two things intersect is where they should be looking for careers and jobs.
BUT, they might have a ton of different industries/jobs/careers that come back from this stage.
So, they’ll need to narrow that list down to do meaningful career research.
Step #4: Narrow Careers Down
Once they’ve narrowed down to 3-5 different jobs, they’ll want to run each through a research phase to learn more.
Step #5: Research those Careers to Find Out More
Researching a career:
- Income Ranges
- Education Requirements
- Skills Requirements
- Different job types
- Day in the Life
- Reading career books for students
Let's dive into how to do all of this, with some pretty awesome + free career sites for high schoolers.
Career Sites for High School Students – Skills Exploration
This section of career sites for high schoolers is dedicated to free online quizzes that will help your students figure out what their current skill set is, and which ones they might want to develop further.
Psst: got students who will not be going to college? Here's a resource of the best careers without college. You also might want to check out RISE Up's free classroom activities from the National Retail Federation.
Students will need to register (for free), and then answer a series of 24 questions.
They’ll then receive one of four “interest colors” for “Your Interest” and “Your Style”:
- Red: Expediting
- Green: Communicating
- Blue: Planning
- Yellow: Administrating
For example, I received Yellow for both. Which means I’m interested in jobs that require organizing and systematizing, and my style is to work where in an orderly manner with few surprises (haha!).
You can then tab over to “Recommended Careers” for a list specific to your interest and style.
Bonus: One of my recommended careers? Is a small business owner…which I am. Woohoo!
Here’s a personality-based career quiz for girls that offers 35 different characteristics they can check off about themselves (multiple choice is totally allowed).
Then, based on those personality traits, they’ll receive a list of appropriate careers.
For example, I plugged in about 10 different ones about myself, and got the following list of potential careers:
- Real Estate Agent
- Athletic Trainer
- Physical Therapist
- Social Worker
- Human Resources Manager
- Fitness Trainer
- Emergency Management Director
Gives you RIASEC interest levels, which correspond with different jobs.
Once you get your interests, you then go here and find out which jobs line up with those interests.
Hint: if you don’t have time to get your students using this website? Then they can take the PDF version of the quiz.
Answer 35 questions, register with an email, and then you get your results (on the same screen – not through your email).
The different types of career paths you get measured for:
Note: this site steers students towards the type of coursework they should take, based on their results.
Career One Stop has figured out 40 workplace skills, and created a skills matcher to help students match their real-life skills with them.
Students can choose a beginner, basic, skilled, advanced, or expert level in each of the 40 listed workplace skills.
In the end, they’ll offer your teens a list of jobs where their natural skills and the ones they want to develop come into play.
Career Sites for High School Students – Career Awareness
Career awareness for high school students is so important. Remember, most students can rattle off maybe 20 careers or job types – but there are literally thousands or even millions of different types of jobs out there.
Psst: here's a take your child to work day activity you might want to try, for small business owners.
Not only that, but making students aware of the skills needed for certain careers so that they can work towards getting those, as well as what a day in the life of that job looks like, is critical as they continue to tweak their career choices moving forward.
These career sites for high school students will help you do all of that, and more. Plus, they all offer free resources that I’ll point out, below!
An incredibly cool website for students – where people travel around the US in an Green RV, to talk about and document people in all types of jobs about work that they love, getting lost in their careers, finding their ways, etc.
Students can click “Start Your Roadmap”, and then answer three different questions. Then, they’re sent to a page of actual job ideas that list, among other info, the trend on that type of career (how much it’s growing or not growing). Not only that, but you can click over to “Leaders” and “Majors” to get more info/follow in the footsteps of how others got to that position.
I just love the milestones listed for how someone got into a particular job!
2. Career Girls
I cannot say enough good things about this website – it’s got a huge amount of resources for teen girls to:
- Discover things about themselves
- Research different career paths
- Hear from career role models about specific jobs
- Figure out how to develop employment skills they’re lacking
Be sure to check out this page, where you can download guides that will outline how the activities on this site align with Common Core Standards.
Here’s a really cool site that will connect your high school students with real-world professionals so that they can get their profession-specific questions answered.
Students can leave a question, and a professional will (hopefully) respond to it!
Actually, I’m really impressed with the responses from real professionals.
Just check out an example:
4. Job Shadow
On this site, students can listen to over 400 videos from professionals talking about what a day in their work life looks like.
Interviews are available from professions like:
- Bail Bondsmen
- Pharmaceutical Rep
- And many, many more
Check out this collection of written “Day in the Life” from hundreds of professionals in all kinds of career fields.
For example, under “Human Services”, you can find a Day in the Life from:
- An in-House Grant Writer
- A Foundation Officer
- A Peace Corp Volunteer
On this site, there’s the following options:
- Visit the featured career
- Match my career interests
- Review careers by clusters
- Career search
I specifically like the career clusters, because once your student gets an idea of a broad industry they’d like to be in (like “healthcare”), this tool helps them drill down into lots of specific jobs that fall under that.
When researching teen career sites for this article, I was pleasantly surprised to find youth and student career resources on my own state’s employment website.
You can find your state’s various employment websites here, and then root around to see what youth and student resources/services they have.
8. My Future
You can input a generic industry/career type (like “science”), and it spits out tons of job titles and salary ranges for that industry.
9. The Forage
The Forage is this awesome new concept where actual companies who hire people everyday have created virtual internship experiences.
Not only that, but:
- You can usually put the certification/experience on your resume (they have instructions at the end of each)
- Recruiters routinely go through completers of these programs first to find new job candidates
I reached out to them, and there are actually 4 intern experiences high school students can take online, for free!
Here they are:
- Kennedys Virtual Experience Programme
- Global Introduction to Law Program
- Global Hub
- ANZ Job Ready Virtual Experience Program
They just opened up this program to high school students, so be on the lookout for further opportunities in the future.
Psst: looking for more? I've included some career game sites in this article on career exploration for students.
This is a free platform created with CTE certified teachers.
Each topic comes with video lessons, a certification, lesson plans, and tests.
Career clusters are extensive – check them out:
Career Awareness for High School Students
What exactly does it mean to be “career aware” for high schoolers?
Let's discuss that.
I think there are several things teens need to know in order to be career aware.
Student Understands Difference Between a Job and a Career
A job is different from a career, and vice versa.
A job is “a paid position of regular employment.”
A career is “an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress.”
Each person's career will likely be filled with multiple jobs, internships, etc.
Also, sometimes you take a job that you don't necessarily want or like, because:
- a) it pays the bills
- b) it's a stepping stone to where you eventually do want to get to
Student Understands How Skills Work within Careers
There are specific skills someone must have to work in a particular field. Some skills you need to have before you can even apply for an entry-level position. Some skills, you obtain while on the job.
Skills can be obtained through apprenticeships, through internships, through education, through experience, through extra-curricular classes you take online, etc.
Pro Tip: It's important for students to know that some skills are “transferrable”, meaning, you can use that same skill in a different career (and you should point those out in a resume if you're looking to switch jobs).
Student Understands the Career Industry is Dynamic and Ever-Changing
Careers go in and out. Sometimes a career is trending up, and sometimes it's dying out. Sometimes, it's maintaining.
Something else that's particularly important for high school students to understand – since they haven't entered the job market yet and might not be for several more years – is how a particular career is trending.
You wouldn't want them to spend 4 years studying for a career field that will hardly be available when they get out of college or trade school, right?
That's why I love the bureau of labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, which shares if a particular field is growing/expanding or not.
Student Understands Careers Have Different Pay
While each career holds a host of jobs at different pay points, we all know that some career fields pay more than others. Not only that, but some career fields have more hourly-type jobs, while others have more salary-type jobs.
Wow – did you make it all the way to the end? A gold star for YOU! I hope you found these career sites for high school students helpful, and are super-pumped to help that next generation of workers to get a clearer path on how to move forward. Not only that, but THANK YOU for your work as a teacher! We need more caring role models for students like you.
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