5 Tips for Helping Your Child Choose a Career 

When should you start talking to your child about their career options? In many cases, the sooner you start the career conversation with your child, the better. If your child has a general idea of what they want to be when they grow up, they can participate in activities or take courses that prepare them for their future career from a young age.  

 Not sure where to start when helping your child plan their future? These tips should help high school students choose a career. 

  1. Talk to Them About Their Interests

While the old saying “love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life” may not be entirely true, your child will get more out of their career if they choose to do something they are genuinely interested in.   

Sit down with your child and brainstorm their interests. Ask them about their hobbies and the subjects they like best in school. Also, ask them what they think are their best skills or talents.   

Talking to your kids about their goals and values can also be useful. What’s the most important thing about having a career for them? For some kids, it might be making a lot of money. For others, making a difference in their community could be more important. 

  1. Learn About Career Options

You know your child is into video games or likes baking. What does that mean for them, future career-wise? It helps to learn more about the various careers out there and the skills associated with them. For example, a child who loves gaming can become a game designer or computer programmer. The child who loves baking may become a baker or bakery owner. 

When discussing career options with your child, use the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) as a guide. It lists many careers, their opportunities, and median salaries.  

The OOH  can be a useful tool to see if a career that interests your child will be in demand in 10 years. It can also help you match your child’s interests and skills to careers.   

When exploring career options, don’t rule out those that may not exist yet. Plenty of the most in-demand jobs today, from web designer to cybersecurity analyst didn’t exist a few decades ago. 

  1. Make Connections

Use your network to help your child explore their career options. You may not know anyone directly who works in the industry your child’s interested in, but it’s likely someone you know does.   

Don’t be shy about connecting with acquaintances in your community. For example, if there’s a locally owned bakery in your area, talk to the owner to see if they want to discuss their career with your child.  

  1. Talk About Training

Looking at the cost of the average four-year degree may make you break out into a cold sweat. The good news is that many fulfilling careers don’t require a four-degree. Your child can start on a career path with a career certificate or by completing an apprenticeship. A career certificate is considerably more affordable than a four-year program and apprenticeships actually pay. 

 If your child is not excited about college, don’t push them to go for it, especially if they’ve chosen a field where a degree isn’t necessary.   

Instead, talk to your child about the various training options and help them discover the path that works for them.  

  1. Encourage Them to Get Work Experience

You hear stories about people who think they want to do one thing with their lives, such as be a doctor or lawyer, only to discover that they don’t love the job. Encouraging your child to get as much work experience as possible before they commit to a career is a good idea.  

Have your high school student talk to their guidance counselor about job shadowing opportunities, during which they follow a mentor around for a day or week. Another option is to encourage your child to pursue an internship so they can see what a day on the job is like.   

If your child is interested in medicine, have them volunteer at the local hospital so they can see what the pace is like.  

No matter what career or college decision your child makes now, remind them that nothing is set in stone. They have many years ahead to grow and learn and may realize they want to change course at some point. 

From food service to information technology and health care to manufacturing, Orange Technical College has many career certificates available to help your child get started quickly. Contact us today for more information about our programs and the enrollment process.