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Matching personal and job characteristics.

Having looked at the job puzzle, you can now focus your career search. The accompanying table matches 18 job characteristics to over 200 occupations studied in the occupational outlook program. You can use it to match yourself with the characteristics associated with various occupations. Be realistic when matching your interests, skills, and goals to a career. For example, you can't become a neurosurgeon without completing college and many years of advanced study, and elementary school teachers do not make $100,000 per year. Being realistic will help you eliminate some possible career choices and identify others that may interest you.

The table can be used in various ways. If you are interested in a specific occupation, you can find out some general characteristics of that occupation. If you are considering psychology, for example, the table indicates that psychologists need a college degree, treat and advise others, and do analysis and evaluation. If the field of education appeals to you, the table provides information about various jobs in that field. If you have no idea about an occupation or field but do know what skills you possess, the table can help you identify careers that might interest you.

Although this table presents information on occupations and skills, it is intended only as a general guide. Don't rule out an occupation because one or two characteristics don't appeal to you. The table addresses primary characteristics of a typical job in that occupation. Not all jobs in an occupation are alike. There may be some differences by speciality, employment setting, or level of experience. For example, jewelers in retail stores deal with the public daily, while those in manufacturing rarely have contact with the public. Counseling psychologists work with people in offices, while experimental psychologists may work with animals in laboratories. Furthermore, you could find two dissimilar occupations that share some characteristics. For example, public relations specialists and dietitians are unrelated occupations, but both require analyzing and troubleshooting ability.

Most occupations cannot be easily categorized by job characteristics. The process of selecting and defining occupational characteristics relies upon the best judgement of analysts who study trends of the selected occupations. Because final decisions rely upon judgement, there may be some questions as to which characteristics apply to a particular occupation. For instance, teachers spend much of their day on their feet, which is physically tiring. However, the table does not indicate physical stamina as a key characteristic of teachers because they can teach while sitting at a desk. Construction laborers, in comparison, must lift heavy objects and endure physical stress and strain to perform their work. Take the time to learn more about occupations that interest you; this may include following the suggestions mentioned in the section on additional information.

The characteristics matched in the table with occupations studied in the occupational outlook program are defined below. The characteristics are grouped under five headings: Education, data/information, people, things, and working conditions. Specific occupations are mentioned with the definitions to illustrate how the characteristics apply to the job.


High school diploma (HS)--requires a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Postsecondary training(PS)--requires training beyond high school but less than a bachelor's degree, including formal on-the-job training, technical or vocational school, or junior or community college.

College and above (C)--requires at least a bachelor's degree.

No educational level indicated--occupation may be entered with less than a high school education.

In some cases, more than one level of educational attainment is indicated for an occupation, reflecting a range of formal educational requirements. For example, some high school graduates become administrative services managers by advancing through the ranks of an organization. Even though a higher degree is not always required for administrative services managers, postsecondary or college education usually enhances their chance of advancing to top-level management positions. Educational requirements may also vary within an occupation. For instance, registered nursing can be entered by earning a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor's degree.


Researching and compiling: Gathering and organizing information or data by reading, conducting tests or experiments, or interviewing experts. Through research, scientists gather information to develop new theories, products, and processes, such as a new medicine to cure a disease. Paralegals conduct research and compile information to identify appropriate laws, legal articles, and judicial decisions that might be used in a client's case. Credit clerks and authorizes compile and update information for credit reports.

Analyzing and evaluating: Examining data or information to develop conclusions or interpretations. After conducting research and compiling data, paralegals may analyze the information and write reports that are used by attorneys to decide how a case should be handled. Retail buyers study sales data to determine purchasing trends, and budget analysts examine financial data to determine the most efficient distribution of funds and resources for their company.

Troubleshooting: Identifying, diagnosing, and solving problems. A degree of analysis may be required to form opinions and make decisions. Involves a reaction to a situation or problem that arises. Elevator repairers diagnose and repair electrical defects quickly to ensure that elevators continue running smoothly. Automotive mechanics diagnose problems with cars and make adjustments or repairs. Managers must deal with various problems, such as a decline in an employee's performance or budget reductions requiring layoffs.

Artistic expression: Designing, composing, drawing, writing, or creating original works or concepts. Interior designers need creativity to develop designs to use in preparing working drawings and specifications for interior construction of buildings. They need an artistic sense to coordinate colors, select furniture and floor coverings, and designlighting and architectural details. Newspaper columnists convey their views on political, social, and economic issues.


Instructing: Teaching people by explaining or showing. Often requires ability to develop new methods and approaches. Adult education teachers demonstrate various techniques to students, including the use of tools or equipment. Manufacturers' and wholesale sales representatives show their customers how to operate and maintain new equipment.

Treating and advising: Counseling or caring for others. Dietitians advise people on proper nutrition. Psychologists and counselors help people deal with vocational and marital problems. Securities and financial services sales representatives advise people on financial investments and planning.

Supervising: Directing, organizing, and motivating people and groups. Blue-collar worker supervisors coordinate and supervise the activities of subordinates. Education administrators provide direction, leadership, and day-to-day management of educational activities in schools and instructional organizations in private businesses.

Persuading: Influencing the feelings of others. Preaching, selling, promoting, speechmaking, negotiating, and mediating are among the skills included in this occupational characteristic. Lawyers attempt to persuade a jury to believe a client's case. Advertising executives try to influence consumers to buy the products they are promoting.

Public contact: Meeting, assisting, and dealing directly with the public frequently on a daily basis. Reference librarians work directly with people, helping them locate information. Bank tellers cash checks and process deposits and withdrawals for customers. Real estate agents help customers find homes that meet their needs.


Mechanical ability: Extensively using and understanding machines or tools. Setting up, operating, adjusting, and repairing machines may also be required. Textile machinery operators make minor repairs and restart looms when malfunctions occur. Musical instrument repairers tune and adjust pianos and other instruments. Marine engineers maintain and repair engines, boilers, generators, and other machinery on boats and ships.

Operating a vehicle: Driving and controlling vehicles or equipment. Busdrivers, industrial truck operators, and aircraft pilots are several examples.

Working Conditions

Repetitious: Work in which the same duties are performed continuously in a short period of time. Sometimes a machine sets the pace of work. Examples include workers on automotive assembly lines, as well as cashiers and bank tellers.

Geographically concentrated: Occupations concentrated in a particular region or locality. Most textile workers are concentrated in a few States. Advertising workers are found mainly in large cities.

Mobile: Requires frequent movement between various work locations, such as office buildings and construction sites. Can involve a combination of different work settings. Workers do not stay in a single office, factory, or laboratory. For example, in addition to working in an office, property and real estate managers frequently visit properties they oversee, while manufacturing sales representatives travel to different cities to visit customers. Messengers deliver packages to various locations.

Physical stamina: Physically demanding. Workers must endure significant physical stress and strain, including lifting heavy objects. Construction work is often strenuous, and workers spend most of the day on their feet--bending, kneeling, lifting, and maneuvering heavy objects.

Part time: Opportunities for part-time work are favorable. Most waiters and waitresses work part time, as do retail salesworkers.

Irregular hours: Working a schedule other than the standard 8-hour day, including night or weekend shifts, rotating schedules, or working for several days and then having several days off. Many nurses and security guards work nights or weekends. Other occupations that work on shifts include firefighters, pilots, and roustabouts.
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Title Annotation:Matching Yourself with the World of Work in 1992
Author:Clymer, Anne W.; McGregor, Elizabeth
Publication:Occupational Outlook Quarterly
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Sep 22, 1992
Previous Article:The job outlook in brief: 1990-2005.
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