Resources to Help Teens Choose a Career

It’s the time of year when many schools and groups focus on careers and career readiness. I don’t know about you, but I always felt dismay when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “What do you want to do for a job?” I think many teens feel the same pressure to choose, perhaps long before fully knowing themselves and their options. Here are some titles for considering the possibilities.

Books to help teens choose a career


careers the graphic guideCareers: The Graphic Guide to Finding the Perfect Job for You by Sarah Pawlewski, consultant

In this one-volume, comprehensive guide, each career’s two-page spread includes what skills and interests would lead to this career, related careers (and their page numbers in the book), and something I’ve never seen in a career book, “The Realities.” For instance, the photographer realities are, “Many hours are spent editing photos rather than shooting. Networking and building a reputation are key to having a successful career.”


encyclopedia of careersEncyclopedia of Careers and Vocational Guidance from Ferguson’s

This solid career reference set expands with each edition, including the changes brought about by social media and digital technology. Interested in different career tracks? Not sure what a job title means? There are over 820 different job descriptions here.


occupational outlook handbook 2016-2017Occupational Outlook Handbook by the U.S. Department of Labor

Benefit from the very latest information on various jobs, straight from the source: the Department of Labor. The 2016-2017 version of the print book will be out on May 13, but the web site is a nice supplement for staying current between printings. (There is also a Young Person’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, from the publisher Jist Works, but its latest edition is from 2010.)


you got this coverYou got this!: Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path, and Change Your World by Maya Penn

Teen entrepreneur and activist Maya Penn shares her passion and ideas for helping other teens realize their own ambitions, get motivated, and change the world for the better, with anecdotes and suggested activities.



what color is your parachuteWhat Color is your Parachute? For Teens, Third Edition: Discover Yourself, Design Your Future, and Plan for your Dream Job by Carol Christen

This perennial favorite is updated and focused on helping high school and college students discover their skills, interests, passions, college majors, and best-matched jobs.


Online Resources can also be of help for teens thinking about their future careers. 

What are your go-to resources for career exploration? Let me know if I’ve missed any in the comments!

—Rebecca O’Neil, currently listening to Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin

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