Skip Navigation

Main sections

Skip section navigation (navigation may have changed)

Due to the lapse in government funding, only websites supporting excepted functions will be updated unless otherwise funded. As a result, the information on this website may not be up to date and the agency will not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted.

Updates regarding government operating status and resumption of normal operations can be found at

Section navigation logo

Exploring your career path

Girl sitting at computer

What do you want to be when you grow up? How about a writer or a medical researcher? An actress or an athlete? Whatever it is, you will learn that there are many paths to a career. After high school, you can choose to continue school or begin a career right away. Even though you are young, it’s not too early to start thinking about your future educational and professional goals.

You probably know about people with such careers as teachers, doctors, actors, and lawyers. But did you know that there are thousands of other possibilities out there? You may be years away from deciding what you want to do as a career, but you should be open to exploring different options and thinking about what interests you. The links below can help you get started!

Earning a degree can mean earning more money

It’s important to remember that many jobs require at least a high school diploma, so work hard and stay in school! Recent findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that full-time workers who didn’t graduate high school earn about 30% less than people with a high school diploma. People with a bachelor’s degree make 40% more than those who only have a high school diploma. What does this mean in real numbers? Well, based on these statistics, it would look like this:

  • Didn’t graduate high school = $23,868
  • High school graduate = $32,188
  • College graduate (4-year degree) = $57,980

College isn’t for everyone, though

Many girls aren’t sure what they want to do after high school, or even if they want to finish high school. In that case, there are still options that can help you plan your future.

Job Corps

Job Corps is a no-cost education and vocational training program run by the U.S. Department of Labor that helps young people (ages 16 through 24) improve the quality of their lives through vocational and academic training. Job Corps also offers the opportunity to earn a high school diploma or a GED for those young people who don't have either. For youth who already have a high school diploma, Job Corps can help them prepare for college through partnerships with local colleges. Resources are also available for English Language Learners. Learn more about Job Corps.

“Gap Year”

If you’re not sure what you want to do after high school, it can be helpful to take a year after high school to explore career options by working or volunteering in an area that you think you might like to study. For example, if you think you are interested in studying nursing, it could be helpful to work or volunteer in a hospital for a year after high school before beginning college-level studies. 

Career opportunities

flag Career Information for Kids (Bureau of Labor Statistics) External link
Find out what careers are for people who like music/arts, science, p.e./outdoors, social studies, reading, and math.

Girl readingflag Job Corps
Training that can help you get a better job and take control of your life.

flag You’re a What? (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Jobs you may have never heard of…

flag United States Small Business Administration: Teen Business Link
Learn what it takes to start and manage your own business!

flag Peace Corps
The Peace Corps was established in 1961 to promote world peace and friendship.

Women’s Sports Foundation
Women as athletes, coaches, sportscasters, and more!

Want to write for a newspaper?
American Society of Newspaper Editors: High School Journalism


Federal resource = This article, publication, website, or organization is from the U.S. government.

Content last reviewed September 22, 2009
Page last updated August 24, 2018