What Is Career Planning?

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Inside: Learn why career planning can help your teen discover a career that’s a good for his unique talents and interests.

You might be asking what is career planning and why does my child need it? Let ‘s first talk about some common concerns. Are you afraid your child is never going to find something he is interested in? Do you worry about spending money on college or other training that he may drop out of or end up not needing?

Career Planning

I know these are a few of the fears parents can have because I have been there! On top of that, everyone you meet is asking what your teen wants to do. It adds a lot of unnecessary pressure and can make you and your child uncomfortable if he doesn’t have an answer.

I think it’s asking a lot for most teenagers to automatically know what career they’ll go into. They need to purposefully devote some time to figure out what they like. Many don’t instinctively know this

That’s why I recommend teens explore the area of career planning long before they graduate. The ACT even recommends starting in middle school.  It can help them feel more comfortable when answering those dreaded questions and more importantly, have a significant impact on the path they pursue.

Career Planning for High School Students

Career planning is a process of self-discovery, which helps identify areas a student is interested in. Through a series of tests and checklists, he’ll discover his specific strengths, weaknesses, and personality traits.

What Is Career Planning

Once he’s gathered this information, he can start exploring what careers are a good fit based on those results. This identifies the jobs he’s most likely to enjoy and excel in.

The final step in career planning is to set some goals and start preparing for the future.

Why Career Planning Is Important

When a student learns more about his abilities and personality, he’s better prepared to make informed decisions.

He has zeroed in on his talents and interests and can identify jobs he may be best suited for.

As he researches different occupations, he may discover careers he didn’t know about before. He’ll also know for sure if college, trade school, or an apprenticeship is necessary, rather than blindly entering college with an undecided major and rack up thousands of dollars in debt.

Career Planning Benefits

Students who take the time to do career planning have a much clearer sense of direction. They may not have pinned down exactly what they want to do, but they will at least know what they are and aren’t good at and be better able to identify a potential fit.

They are also going to be more motivated in their studies when they are learning about something they are interested in. This is going to increase their confidence and therefore, optimize their chances for success.

Parents benefit financially when they don’t have to pay for more schooling than is necessary. They can feel good about the decisions being made because they weren’t done on a whim and feel confident their child is heading in the right direction.

Steps to Career Planning

I am going to cover eight specific steps your child can take for strategic career planning.

1. Asking for God’s Direction

Asking for God's Direction

If your child is a Christian, he should first be praying and seeking God’s direction for his life. No matter what he decides to do, if it is not God’s will, he is not going to have the success he should. Teaching your child to seek God first before making decisions is the most critical part of this.

2. Talents and Interests

Talents and Interests

There are a lot of free tools you can search for on the internet which your student can use to help him find out what he is and isn’t good at. He may be surprised at some of the results he gets. Searching for and taking different interest inventories is an excellent way to hone in on his specific skill sets needed for certain careers.

3. Personality Assessments

Personality Types

We can learn a lot from personality tests. I find these fascinating, and there’s a good chance your child will too. If he takes them seriously, he is going to find out a wealth of information about himself. This is the information that is going to make certain types of careers stand out, and help him pick occupations that fit his personality. Knowing these traits can help explain what drives him and find a job he enjoys.

Search on Google for free personality tests. There should be several that come up. Just make sure you find one that will give the 4-letter personality type and a decent description of what that means.

4. Career Categories

Based on your student’s results, he needs to look at websites showing the different career categories that are grouped together based on whether individuals like to work with data, people, things, or ideas. This enables him to pinpoint jobs that are aligned with his interests, talents, and personality.

5. Creating Potential Career Lists

Career Lists

While learning about these occupations, your child will develop a list of potential ones that interest him or fit with the results of his assessments. During this process, he should list everything he finds, even if he has no idea what it is. These are all possibilities he should learn about.

6. Digging Deeper

At this point, your child should have a fairly developed list of possible jobs he needs to research. He may start to see certain ones listed over and over. These are the ones he especially needs to pay attention to.

Digging Deeper

Using websites, books, college course guides, and the library, he’ll dig deeper into each one on his list. He needs to find the job descriptions, what skills are required, the outlook for the future of the occupations, the average income, the education needed, and any other relevant information to better understand these careers.

7. Getting First-Hand Experience

When your child completes the research, he should select all the possible jobs he’s most interested in. From that list, he needs to choose the top three fields he would like to investigate further. He’s going to set up some interviews and even shadow some people at work to see which ones really resonate with him.

He can list all the facts he wants and think a career is right for him, but talking to someone who does it or going to seeing it in person can shed a whole new light on it.

It’s important he also considers jobs he was neutral on, meaning he didn’t hate them, but wasn’t sure he’d like them. Experiencing them in person may be completely different from what he thought and can change his mind.

Job Interview

Your teen will need to come up with a list of questions for the interview. He can find friends, family members, or just call up businesses to get a contact person to interview. It can be conducted in person, over the phone, or by email.

Conducting these in person is probably the best way because a face-to-face conversation can lead to other questions and a better understanding, but that’s not always possible.

After completing the interviews, he needs to choose one or two people he’d like to shadow. This can be for just an hour or two or a whole day. However long, it’s going to be the most valuable method of learning about a career, and he’ll walk away with a much better understanding of what’s required of a person in that position.

8. Goal Setting and Future Planning

By interviewing and shadowing, your child will most likely figure out what he likes and doesn’t like and will be able to choose something that really interests him.

Does this mean your child has determined the exact job he’s going to be in for the rest of his life after doing this? Probably not.

How many adults do you know that have changed careers later in life? The job market is a different situation now than it was many years ago. People change from one career to another or the businesses themselves change.

The important thing is because your teen now has a greater understanding of all the areas he excels in and how his personality matches with specific skills, he can be flexible and easily move into another area if necessary. There is more than one job a person can do. His skills will overlap into different areas.

Goal setting and future planning

It’s always scary thinking about spending money on college or trade school, but this process should help increase the chances of your child actually sticking with a program.

Something else to consider is whether your child should take a gap year to continue examining occupations if nothing surfaced during this time. This could also be used as an opportunity to do an internship to solidify his choice before officially enrolling somewhere.

Now it’s time to begin planning for the future. Through the research, your child should’ve learned what education or certifications are required to enter into his field of choice.

He should begin looking at:

  • The different colleges, trade schools, or apprenticeships that are available to him.
  • What high school courses are a prerequisite?
  • Are there specific skills that would give him an advantage?
  • Can he intern over the summer at a local business?
  • Are there online courses offered that he can get dual credits for?
  • Can he attend training or camps on this particular subject?

You can streamline his high school courses and electives in the direction needed to prepare him for this career. That’s the great thing about homeschooling! You can pick and choose your curriculum to meet the needs of your children. He will be ahead of the game when starting because he has already been building a foundation.

Here is a video talking about the steps in career planning.

Career Exploration Worksheets

My goal was to answer the question about what is career planning and I hope you have found this article helpful. It can take a lot of time looking for all the different sites and information required to go through the process of career planning.

I’ve created some Career Exploration Worksheets to help your teen do this. This career planner includes links to assessments as well as a variety of forms that’ll be used to research and record the findings.

Why would I want to buy these?

  • Feel confident your child is learning to determine what the best occupations are for his unique characteristics
  • Have the peace of mind that your teen will discover information about himself to make wise choices about his future
  • Have a better understanding of your child’s personality and how to use it to his advantage
  • You will have a wealth of information to use as an education planner for high school courses
  • It’s a time-saver because the work is already done for you
  • You can use this as an elective course for credits
  • Your student can do this independently because it is laid out in a format this is easy to follow

All for only $14.99!


Help your teen prepare for job interviews. Download my practice questions to give him confidence!

Hi I’m Heidi. I’m a former teacher turned homeschool mom of three. I’ve homeschooled from the beginning and my oldest is now graduated. I believe your home doesn’t have to be chaotic just because you homeschool. When you join The Unexpected Homeschooler’s community, you’ll learn how to have a more organized, efficient, and productive homeschool, and I’ll send you this Daily Assignment Sheet tool as a gift to teach your students to work independently and free up your time.

Career Planning for High School Students

6 thoughts on “What Is Career Planning?”

  1. With this subject, there are so many variables, upsides, downsides and such to consider. Let’s give some love to the mothers who work hard to achieve this goal, with much intuitive structured regimines for young teachers everywhere. This is really a walk off home run win for all parents because of the many benefits of home schooling speaking from first hand experience as a father of a home schooled child with a mother who has accomplished this feat.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed your post concerning career planning for teens.  I had four boys and they were very different.  They were all schools at a local Christian school but did spend time at a local secular high school as well.  Three of my children found their life interest and are doing well while one of them is still searching.

    In my own life, I would have flourished in a home schooling environment but unfortunately that just was not an option 50 years ago as much as now.  I was a “nerd” and had my share of bullying and “interpersonal difficulties” with my peers.  I managed to get through that but it was not pleasant.  

    Getting back to career planning – I think that is a wonderful concept that probably far too little utilized.  Most kids just fall into a career and hope for the best without any real guidance into their best fit career choices.  

    I think part of the problem is that the most lucrative careers – to which some kids gravitate – are not their best fit career choices.  I have always counseled my kids to pick what interests them and not what pays them better.  There is no enjoyment in life if you are trapped in a job you hate even if it pays well.

    I have also looked through your entire website – and I must say the “Bullet Journal” seems like a wonderful idea to help keep organized.  I have had many different time management systems but they all have some short fallings.  I have tried computer programs, various organizers, and read books on self organization but have always found keeping organized difficult.  This looks like a promising system.

    Thanks for your help – looking forward to future posts!


    • Thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad you found this article helpful and the bullet journal one as well. I agree that more students should be doing career planning. It was a huge help for my son. Up until he did it, he had no idea what he was going to do. This really helped him see the types of jobs he needed to be in and select an area he felt he’d enjoy. 

  3. Heidi, Hello! I am amazed at the abundance of opportunities to learn from your site. Your links were included in my mail Immediately. For example, I have grabbed grammar control cards for myself. I want to learn always. It would be nice to start life again! 

    Now about the essence of your topic: What is Career Planning?  Of course, it is intended for high school students. Students will go through their own personal career planning stages. As a result, they will be able to present their well-founded arguments to an expert or an employer. 

    You created this sequence of actions professionally. It is published in an accessible form and may be offered to younger students. 

    I will print your article for my grandchildren and their parents. And they will spread among friends. 

    Great respect for your noble work. Mark.

    • Thank you Mark, I appreciate it! I am glad you liked my article and will pass it along. Enjoy the Grammar by the Book!


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