This tool will help you understand and select the best pathway for you to begin a successful career. Follow the directions carefully and you will learn how to find the right postsecondary or training program fit.
You can use the digital form below to download your personalized PDF or download a blank PDF to print and complete at your leisure.
These 4 key “building blocks” in the development of education-to-career pathway programs:
- What, How, and When Will I Learn?
- When Will I Start Working and Earning in my Field?
- How Will I Afford Training?
- How Might this Program Position Me for Career Success?
Start by selecting a career interest. A career interest can be a specific occupation such as a Physical Therapist or an “industry area” such as Healthcare or Health Science. It’s perfectly fine to not yet know or be sure of your career interests.
Here are some tips:
- Use Online tools–there are a lot of great sites online that will help you match with career interests. ASA’s Futurescape and EvolveMe are two to check out!
- Futurescape: https://futurescape.asa.org/
- Reflect—think about what you enjoy, what gives you a sense of accomplishment, what makes you curious, and what others tell you you’re good at. Career interest ideas can come from:
- your favorite classes, extracurriculars, or hobbies
- direct experiences you’ve had with the world of work through a job, volunteer position, or community service.
- talking with trusted adults and professionals about their career paths–you can do this at a career fair, workplace tour, job shadow, guest speaker event, or even ask a family member or neighbor.
Identify Postsecondary/Training Programs that align with the career interest you’ve selected.
This information can be found online and/or through a trusted adult such as a guidance or career counselor or professional in that career.
What to look for: you are looking for a program or training that will give you a credential that tells employers you are qualified to become their employee. Here are some tips for finding postsecondary programs/trainings:
Use Online tools–some examples:
- My Next Move, from the US Department of Labor. For each career you look at there is an “Education” section where you can search Training, Certifications, Licenses, and Apprenticeships programs.
- Career Village is where you can get free personalized career advice and ask about postsecondary programs/training from real-life professionals.
- My Next Move: https://www.mynextmove.org/
Career Village: https://www.careervillage.org/
Now, for each post secondary program/training program you want to consider, complete the two-part checklist below. Your goal is to have at least one or two programs to compare.
Please note that:
- Words or terms that may not be familiar are in red and defined in the glossary.
- Reflection questions are included for your consideration.
After answering both parts A and B, consider which program/training you prefer–in other words, is it a good fit as a choice that will lead you to the career you are interested in pursuing?
If none of the programs you examined through the checklist are a fit, don’t worry. Take time to find others—spending more time now can save you time and resources later!
Career and Technical Education (CTE)
Career and Technical Education (CTE)
CTE is a broad term for education that combines academic and technical skills with the knowledge and training needed mto succeed in today’s labor market. CTE prepares students for the world of work by introducing them to workplace competencies in a real-world, applied context. CTE programs cover health sciences, engineering, entrepreneurship, computer science, sustainable agriculture, theater arts production, media, culinary arts, and many other fields. (Ed Northwest)
Career Pathways program or Academy
Career Pathway programs help high school students gain secondary and postsecondary education, training, and support services while they acquire marketable skills, industry-recognized credentials, and eventually good jobs. Career pathway systems combine rigorous academics with workplace experience using the latest technologies.
Career Academies are organized around such themes as health sciences, law, business and finance, and engineering. Typically, academy students take classes together, remain with the same group of teachers over time, follow a curriculum that includes rigorous academic courses as well as career-oriented courses, and participate in WBL activities. (MDRC)
Work-based Learning (WBL)
WBL experiences allow students to explore their career goals, abilities, and interests while applying their academic and technical knowledge and skills in a real-world context. These experiences are planned and supervised by instructional staff in
collaboration with business, industry, or community partners.
- Early WBL typically happens in a school or educational setting such as guest speakers, career fairs, career days, real-world
- Intermediate WBL typically happens at a worksite including, worksite tours or field trips, job shadows, and informational
- More advanced WBL also takes place at a workplace and typically is for credit or payment such as service learning,
internships, and pre-apprenticeships.
See also: JFF’s WBL Framework
A credential is a documented award by a responsible and authorized body that attests that an individual has achieved specific learning outcomes or attained a defined level of knowledge or skill relative to a given standard. Credential is often viewed as
an umbrella term that includes degrees, diplomas, licenses, certificates, badges, and professional and industry certifications.
Some do not include degrees within the term, credentials, creating confusion as to whether degrees are credentials.
The qualifications that are required for acceptance into a postsecondary/training program, (e.g., age, background check, high
school course prerequisites, immunizations).
Financial aid includes grants, scholarships, loans, and part-time employment from federal, state, institutional and private sources. These types of aid are combined to create an “award package.” The types and amounts of aid you receive are determined by financial need, available funds, student classification, academic performance, and sometimes the timeliness of your application.
Student loan debt money borrowed to pay for education expenses including tuition, fees, books, supplies, room and board, etc.
TYPES OF LEARNING
Self-directed learning is a learning method whereby the student takes initiative for learning. This includes activities such as selecting, managing, and assessing their own learning activities. Teachers provide advice, direction, and resources to support the student while peers provide collaboration.
Asynchronous learning occurs when classes run on a more relaxed schedule, with some students accessing class materials during different hours, that works best for them, and from different locations.
Synchronous learning occurs when classes are held in real time, with students and instructors attending together from different locations.