You want to explore a new career – but where do you start your research? I often recommend O*NET, the Occupational Information Network available online. It provides comprehensive occupational descriptions and data that is useful to job seekers, workforce development offices, human resources professionals, and the generally curious. And it’s free!
O*NET looks at both the person in the job (abilities, interests, skills) and the job itself (tasks and technology required, labor market statistics, occupational outlook) to give the user targeted insight into a given profession.
Let’s say I’ve been seeing a lot of job ads for “Industrial/Organizational Psychologist,” and I want to know if this is a good field for me to pursue. I type “Industrial/Organizational Psychologist” into the Occupation Search Box, and O*NET gives back a 100% match for that title, plus several related occupations. Happy to see a “bright outlook” designation on the I/OP listing, I drill deeper to explore the summary page, as well as detailed pages about various aspects of this field – including how much I can expect to earn, and projected job growth. Under “wages and employment,” I even find state-specific wage and projection statistics for Colorado.
Did I mention this site was free? Even if you are already working in your “dream job,” you can use O*NET to more clearly define your current position (performance evaluations, anyone?), undergird your request for promotion, and see how much money you can earn with an advanced degree. There is also a green economy section recently released that defines and identifies jobs related to renewable energy, energy capture and storage, transportation, and other green sector career fields.
You’ll see a clear trend when exploring O*NET: the more advanced your educational attainment, the more money you’ll earn. If you find that a graduate degree would help you advance in your career, or transition to a new one, keep in mind that Colorado State University Continuing Education offers many online and distance degree and certificate programs in those “bright outlook” fields like industrial/organizational psychology, biomedical engineering, civil engineering (both bright and green!), systems engineering, and CIS.
So, readers, what tools are YOU using to research your career options? Let us know!