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How to Choose a Good Career After High School

Written by Nicole Dalbo on Friday, 26 August 2022. Posted in Helpful Tips

A female student holding books in her right hand while making a surprised expression.

With a seemingly near infinite amount of jobs in the world, choosing a career after high school can feel like a lot of pressure. But what if there was a way to help you narrow down the best occupation for you? Good news: that’s exactly what we’ll be helping you with today. Whether you’re between a few different job choices or have no idea what career you want to get into, this guide is here to assist you to make an informed decision on your next steps after high school.

How do I figure out what I want to do after high school?

You don’t have to know exactly what career you want to figure out what you may want to do after high school. In fact, the average person holds around 12 jobs in their lifetime. Chances are your job out of high school will not be the career you retire with, so it’s okay to not have your whole life set in stone. No one can predict the future, so it’s more than okay to try out a few different fits before you find the right path for you.

Here’s what you can do instead:

Put yourself first and think of what interests you! Take the first step beyond high school toward what you might be interested in. You may find out that you want to advance in that career, or you may discover that it’s not the best fit for you. Each of these discoveries will help pull you a little bit closer to a career that’s a perfect fit.

How do I choose a career as a student?

There are so many types of jobs out there, that it can feel overwhelming when thinking about what you want to aim for. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help simplify the process and get you closer to your ideal career path:

1. What did I want to be when I was six years old? In middle school?

You may have grown a lot over the years, but it’s always worth taking a look back at your childhood and seeing what you wanted to be when you grew up. Whether you haven’t thought about it for years or held onto the idea for it closely, don’t be afraid to think about making your childhood dreams, or a version of them, a reality.

2. How much do I want to work with people?

Whether you’re more of a people person or someone that likes to be more solo is definitely something worth considering. Once you have a list of some of your top career choices, do some research on how much interaction with other people they will require.

If you’re someone that needs to be around people, you may not be your happiest if you don’t get to communicate with others as often as you’d like. While on the other hand, people that need more alone time may have a more difficult time in jobs with a constant need for conversation. It’s important to figure out in what environments you thrive, and which jobs match up with that part of your personality.

3. Do I want to work outdoors, with my hands, or would I prefer working indoors on a computer?

Not every career involves working behind a desk (although some great ones do!). Whether you enjoy being outdoors or inside, finding a career that can accommodate that may help you become your best self.

4. Am I willing to continue my education?

Some jobs may require certifications, career diplomas, or degrees to get your foot in the door. Not only will you have to decide if you would like to continue your education, but for how long. If you’re an animal lover, becoming a veterinarian may be your first thought. However, veterinarians must get a doctorate level degree which requires a lot of money and time on your part. Veterinary technicians, on the other hand, get to enjoy a rewarding career helping animals with less intensive job requirements.

If you’re thinking about continuing your education, pursuing a college prep diploma may be a good idea for you. Not only will it prepare you for education after high school, but it can also help your resume stand out from the crowd. Not sure what makes a college prep diploma different from a general high school diploma? You can read more about the differences between the two in this useful guide.

5. What are my favorite hobbies?

Think about what you like to do in your spare time. Whether you’re into fitness, crafting, technology, or something else entirely, it may be worth considering how you can turn that hobby into a career. Do your research to find out which careers can line up with your interests to start profiting from what you love doing.

6. What subjects in school do I enjoy most?

If there are certain subjects (or a subject!) in school that you really enjoy, those study skills of yours may be able to pay off in a big way. Don’t be afraid of searching for careers in an area that you love learning about. School lays out a foundation to many different areas of study, so if there’s a subject that you particularly enjoy, finding a career that specializes in that area may bring you the same enjoyment.

7. What career just seems cool?

Finding your career path can be as simple as investigating jobs that seem awesome to you. Interested in becoming a forensic scientist because of a crime scene show? Maybe you’re drawn to watching the athletic trainer tend to athletes during games? It may make sense to do more research into the different kinds of jobs that attract you to see if that career choice is really a good fit.

What are the most popular careers that high schoolers are most interested in pursuing?

According to a survey that gathered more than 150,000 8th to 12th graders’ opinions, healthcare occupations are among the most popular careers that high schoolers are most interested in pursuing—and it’s not a bad idea. Occupations in healthcare are projected to grow 16% from 2020 to 2030, adding about 2.6 million new jobs.

Wondering what kind of healthcare options are available to you? Check out these occupations to help get you started in healthcare:

1. Medical billing and coding

As a medical billing and coding professional, you will organize, manage, and code medical information. You’ll spend most of your time behind a computer but will still work closely with registered nurses and other healthcare workers. Unlike many other healthcare careers, medical billing and coding can have the option to work from home.

Average salary: $45,240 per year

Requirements: Postsecondary nondegree award

2. Veterinary technician

Animal lovers will love this career. Vet techs perform medical tests that help diagnose animals’ injuries and illnesses while being supervised by veterinarians. Technicians may do laboratory tests, such as a urinalysis, and help veterinarians conduct a variety of other diagnostic tests.

Average salary: $36,850 per year

Requirements: Associate degree

3. Dental office assistant

Providing patient care, sterilizing dental instruments, keeping records, and scheduling appointments are just a few of the tasks you’ll have to do a dental office assistant. Under the direction of a dentist, you’ll also process x-rays and complete lab tasks. Depending on your state, you may also be able to polish teeth to remove stains and plaque from the enamel or apply sealants, fluoride, or topical anesthetic.

Average salary: $38,660 per year

Requirements: Postsecondary nondegree award

4. Home health aide

Home health aides monitor the condition of people with disabilities or chronic illnesses and help them with daily living activities under the supervision of a medical practitioner. Depending on the state you live in, you may be able to provide some basic health-related services such as checking a client’s pulse, temperature, and respiration rate.

Average salary: $29,430 per year

Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

5. Sterile processing technician

As a sterile processing technician, you’ll prepare operating rooms, arrange equipment, and help doctors during surgeries. You’ll have to ensure that all the equipment needed for surgery is sterile and may even help prepare patients for surgery by disinfecting their incision sites.

Average salary: $48,530 per year

Requirements: Postsecondary nondegree award

What is a postsecondary nondegree award?

Looking at the requirements for some of these jobs, you may be wondering what a postsecondary award is. A postsecondary nondegree award is obtained by completing a formal educational program that teaches specialized skills. Other names for a postsecondary nondegree award can include career diplomas and career certificates among others. While this type of education is not a degree, it can show that you have the credibility and know-how to perform a specific skill.

What are good paying jobs after high school?

Although college can certainly help you earn more, you don’t need a college degree to have a good paying job. If you’re looking to have a career path that you can start after high school and still live comfortably, there are options out there for you! That’s why we’ve assembled a list of other great, obtainable occupations for those looking to get into a career right out of high school.

1. Paralegal

Paralegals help lawyers prepare for hearings, trials, and meetings. If you choose this career path, you’ll find yourself using technology and computer software to manage and organize the documents and data collected during a case. A paralegal’s specific duties can vary depending on the area of law in which they work.

Median Salary: $56,230

2. Hotel manager

As a hotel manager, you’ll ensure that travelling guests have a pleasant experience at your establishment, while also making sure that the business is running efficiently and profitably. Larger hotels with more amenities lead to a greater range of duties such as granting access to a swimming pool, operating a casino, or hosting conventions.

Median Salary: $59,430

3. Plumber

Working as a plumber, you’ll have to install and repair water, gas, and other piping systems in homes, businesses, and factories. You’ll install plumbing fixtures such as bathtubs and toilets, and appliances such as dishwashers and water heaters. You will clean drains, remove obstructions, and repair or replace broken pipes and fixtures.

Median Salary: $59,880

4. Electrician

Installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems are just a few things you’ll have to do as an electrician. You will need to read blueprints, which include technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. Being proficient at a wide variety of tools will aid you in this career path.

Median Salary: $60,040

5. Construction and building inspector

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets local and national building codes, ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications. You’ll need to ensure safety compliance of buildings by inspecting the electrical, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, and plumbing systems. At each inspection, you may need to provide written or oral feedback about your discoveries.

Median Salary: $61,640

6. Forensic science technician

If collecting and analyzing evidence in criminal investigations seems interesting to you, a forensic science technician may be a good fit. You may need to work at the scene of a crime and perform specific and technical analysis in laboratories or offices. Although there are many fields of forensic science, all forensic science technicians prepare written reports that detail their findings and investigative methods, and be able to explain their reports to lawyers, detectives, and other law enforcement officials.

Median Salary: $61,930

What are my next steps to find a job after high school?

If you’ve narrowed it down to a few possible jobs, now is the time to research these occupations to see if they truly align with what you want in a career. For salary information, using salary.com is a great resource to help you know the compensation of a particular occupation. This website can assist you in finding out the median salary of a particular career with the option to adjust salary information based on your area.

On the other hand, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook can give you a breakdown of a career, what educational and experience level it may require, and some insight into if this job is increasing in demand. This handbook is loaded with valuable information so that you can make an informed decision on pursuing your next career.

If you’re still on your journey to complete high school, James Madison High School can help you own your education. Earn your accredited high school diploma on a flexible, self-paced schedule so that you can keep your career goals in sight. If you’re ready to begin or want to learn more, reach out to an admissions specialist today at .

Want to learn more about possible next steps for getting a job after high school? Check out these awesome articles to help get you started.

About the Author

Nicole Dalbo

Nicole Dalbo

Nicole Dalbo studied English Literature with a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Scranton and is currently working toward her MS in Marketing. When she isn’t writing, Nicole can be found watching the newest Marvel movie, baking something sweet, or jamming out to live music.