Some previous generations have sent the majority of their high school graduates straight to the career field while others have sent most of their grads to college. Nowadays, the status quo is shifting a great deal as students and parents alike are seeing the value in open-ended options and making decisions based on an individual rather than the trends. For a while, it was thought that college was the only way to get a job that paid well and be able to provide for a family one day. Many students and adults alike have slowly realized that isn’t always the case. While college graduates, in general, do tend to make more than those without college degrees, there’s no guarantee that a college education will give you a higher income or more job security.
Many high school students today are making responsible and courageous decisions to enter into their chosen career field immediately after high school for a number of reasons. Some students know exactly what they want to do and have been working towards that career during all of high school. Others tend to struggle more in school and feel that entering the workforce is a better use of their time and talent than attending school for another several years. Still, others desire to make money immediately after high school and wish to do so in a specific career. No matter what category you fall into, transitioning from high school to a career can be challenging, but we’ve put together some tips and career ideas to help you make the shift as easily as possible.
Best Options for Easy Transitioning from High School to a Career
If you’re looking for an easy transition from school into the workforce, you likely already have a few job and career ideas in mind. However, not all careers are the same in terms of earning potential, entry-level position availability, and so on. If you’ve taken CTE (career technical education) courses or have significant work experience, you’re likely headed down a particular track already. If you have some hobbies or passions that you can make money from doing after high school, look into those options. There are several possibilities when it comes to transitioning from high school to a career, and here we look at some of the best options for students who wish to go this route.
Trade or Technical School
There will always be a need for those skilled in certain trades. We will always need electricians, auto mechanics, plumbers, and so on. These careers usually are relatively easy to get into and with some training and certifications that you can usually get on the job or in a short program before getting employed, this is a great route to go for those transitioning from high school to a career. Some vocational education programs offer courses to high school students and many programs are short enough to complete in the weeks or months following graduation, meaning you’ll be employed and working shortly after finishing high school.
The military is definitely not for everyone, but if it’s something that interests you, it can be a great career. You can retire after just 20 years of services in most cases, meaning that you’ll be retiring before you’re 40 if you join just after school. The various branches of service have different requirements, job offerings, and advantages, so be sure to do your research if you’re considering joining the military. Talk to a number of different recruiters and anyone who know who has served or is currently serving in the military to get their take on the different branches and their pros and cons. Even if you’re not certain you want to make a career out of the military, enlisting for 4 or 6 years can be a great way to figure out what you really want to do and can even give you a chance to take some classes during your service or take advantage of a free college education after you’ve gotten out.
Some careers encourage trade school while others prefer hands-on experience right from the beginning in the form of apprenticeship programs. Many career fields that offer apprenticeships are growing rapidly and these jobs literally pay you to learn. Most apprentices start off earning about $15 an hour and most make more than $50,000 a year after completing their apprenticeship, if not more. While some programs take 4 or 6 years to complete, others take only 1 year, and apprenticeships are available in a number of different industries and fields.
Top Tips for Transitioning from High School to a Career
Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, it’s never too early or too late to start preparing yourself for a smooth process of transitioning from high school to a career. Embrace the tips below and do whatever you can to make the transition seamless, enjoyable, and successful. Don’t forget to talk to your parents, school counselor, academic advisor, or any other trusted adult to get support, assistance, and encouragement as you are transitioning from high school to a career.
Get Involved in Clubs, Organizations, and Volunteer Opportunities
This is especially important for younger students who think they may want to enter the workforce upon graduating. Freshman and sophomores should explore what their schools and local communities have to offer that interest them so they can get their feet wet in a chosen field or industry. Even if it’s volunteering at a local soup kitchen or taking care of babies in the church nursery, doing what interests you will help you gain some insight into what career fields you may or may not enjoy in the future. School clubs or classes at the local rec center can help you pinpoint your interests and passions as well.
Get Some Real-World Experience
Get a job in your chosen field, if possible. If you want to be an auto mechanic, try to get a job cleaning up a local auto shop or answering phones for the front desk. If you want to work in the medical field, volunteer at the local hospital or get a job at a nearby nursing home. Talk to your parents and their friends, as well as your friends’ parents to see if anyone has a connection to a professional in the field that you’d like to go into and ask about any job or volunteer opportunities.
Think About Your Passions and Skills
Not everyone is lucky enough to do something they love for a living, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! What are you passionate about? What do you love doing? What are you naturally gifted in? Think about what you truly enjoy and what would never seem like work, and look into some career fields that would allow you to do exactly that. Particularly when you’re first thinking about a future career, it can be overwhelming when you see all your options, but thinking about what makes you happy is a great place to start.
Vary Your Coursework
If your high school has electives or CTE classes that interest you, take them! It may turn into nothing, but it could also turn into a future career! If you’re intrigued by a marketing class, an IT course, or a criminal justice class, just take it. Oftentimes, classes like these will spark a passion for a particular field and they can even connect you with local professionals who will be great to have in your personal network one day. Even if you think you know early on what you want to do, take some varied classes to explore other options and keep your mind open to all possibilities.
Start Your Job Search Early
As soon as you know what you want to do, start looking for jobs. Even if you’re not about to graduate, start making connections with local companies and take notes on what companies are hiring for what positions. It can take a while to land a great job, so the sooner you start, the better. Knowing the job market and what is available in a particular industry may help you to narrow down or re-focus your search as well.
Never Stop Learning
Even if you don’t plan on going to college, keep your thirst for knowledge alive well beyond your schooling years. Take online classes, keep reading, talk to successful people, and just never stop learning. If you feel led to continue your education at any point or in any way, just do it. If you have the opportunity to take a class through your job or get a certification at work, just do it. Keep learning and striving to gain more knowledge and you’ll continue to make yourself valuable to any company you come into contact with.