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Matching yourself with the world of work.

Matching Yourself With the World of Work

1986 Edition

So you're trying to decide on a career? Good luck. With some 35,000 job titles to choose from, it won't be easy. You will probably never seriously consider more than a dozen or so of these careers. Nevertheless, making a wise choice among even this small number will depend on many imponderables, not the least of which is just plain luck.

Effective counseling and up-to-date information can narrow the uncertainties in this process. But whether career guidance be informal talks with parents or friends or a formal in-school guidance course, the objective is the same--to match personal talents and goals with those demanded by a given field of work.

Knowing, for example, whether there are part-time opportunities in an occupation or knowing that a job does--or does not--require working with people or physical stamina can be important. And the degree of employment growth or competition in a field may affect whether you get a job in it or how fast you advance.

The following guide was designed to help you compare these types of job characteristics with your interests and skills. Listed and defined are 17 occupational characteristics and requirements that are matched in the chart that follows with 200 occupations chosen from the 1986-87 Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The table can be used in at least three ways. First, if you already have some idea of which occupation you wish to enter, you can use the table to find out the general characteristics of that occupation. Second, if you've decided on a general field of work--such as health or sales-- but not on a particular occupation, the table can help you learn about the different jobs in that field. Third, if you haven't thought much about occupations, but you do know what skills you have, the table can introduce you to several occupations you might be good at.

One note of caution: The chart can be helpful in organizing occupational information, but it is intended only as a general exploratory tool. Before you eliminate an occupation from consideration because of a single characteristic, you should realize that the job characteristics presented in the table refer only to a typical job in the occupation.

All jobs in an occupation are not alike. Most accountants, for example, work alone, but accountants who are auditors or investigators may work with others. Therefore, if you have an interest in an occupation, you should not disregard that career simply because one or two of its characteristics do not appeal to you. You should check further into the occupation --either through reading or by talking to you counselor--to find out how particular jobs in the occupation or occupational cluster might match up with your personality, interests, and abilities.

Following is a list--together with definitions--of the characteristics shown in the chart. Specific occupations are sometimes listed to give an idea of the kinds of skills included.

Job Requirements

(1) Leadership/persuasion--stimulate others to think or act in a certain way. Automobile sales workers and blue-collar supervisors are examples of occupations in which one must motivate others. Skills include organizing people and groups, supervising, directing, taking the initiative, preaching, selling, promoting, counseling, speechmaking, negotiating, and mediating.

(2) Helping/instructing others--help others to learn how to do or understand something. Skills include treating, teaching, listening, and counseling.

(3) Problem-solving/creativity--develop new ideas, programs, designs, or products. Commercial artists who prepare the artwork in magazines and engineers who design machinery are examples of occupations that require creativity. Skills include designing, inventing, drawing, writing, and developing ideas or programs.

(4) Initiative--determine what needs to be done and complete the job without close supervision. A department store buyer, for example, must use initiative in anticipating customers' preferences, buying merchandise at the right price, and seeing that goods are in stock when needed.

(5) Work as part of a team--interact with fellow employees to get the work done. A school administrator, for example, works cooperatively with school principals, community members, and government officials.

(6) Frequent public contact--meet or deal with the public on a regular basis. A librarian, for example, must meet and deal easily with the public.

(7) Manual dexterity--make, build, and fix things with the hands. Skills include operating tools, testing, drafting, instructing sports activities, and moving rhythmically.

(8) Physical stamina--endure stress and strain, heavy lifting, standing, or being uncomfortably confined for long periods.

Work Environment

(9) Hazardous--withstand conditions that are dangerous, such as working with infectious materials or working in surroundings where accidents are common. Most such jobs require adherence to safety precautions. Medical laboratory workers, for example, must use precautions when handling infectious material.

(10) Outdoors--spend a major portion of time outdoors, usually without regard to weather conditions.

(11) Confined--stay in a specific place for most of the workday.

Occupational Characteristics

(12) Geographically concentrated-- 50 percent or more jobs located in five States or fewer.

(13) Part-time--many workers employed for less than 35 hours a week.

(14) Earnings--three categories of earnings, based on 1985 averages, are shown:

L = lowest (10 percent or less)

M = middle (11 to 19 percent)

H = highest (20 percent or more)

Keep in mind that earnings within an occupation vary widely and that some workers earn more and some earn less than the average.

(15) Employment growth--three categories of projected growth from 1984 to 1995 are shown:

L = lowest

M = middle

H = highest

Job opportunities are usually favorable if employment is expected to increase at least as rapidly as for the economy as a whole (15 percent). But don't pick a job based solely on growth. Because of the need to replace workers who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons, slow-growing occupations may actually have more job opportunities than their growth rates indicate.

(16) Number of new jobs, 1984-85-- the projected number of new jobs expected to become available. In most occupations, the number of job openings created by the need to replace workers who change occupations or leave the labor force will be much higher than the number of new jobs.

(17) Entry requirements--three categories of education and training requirements are shown:

L = high school or less education is sufficient, and the basics of the job can usually be learned in a few months of on-the-job training;

M = post-high school training, such as apprenticeship or junior college, or many months or years of experience are required to be fully qualified;

H = 4 or more years of college usually required.

Table: The World of Work
COPYRIGHT 1986 U.S. Government Printing Office
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:vocational and career guidance
Author:Fountain, Melvin
Publication:Occupational Outlook Quarterly
Article Type:illustration
Date:Sep 22, 1986
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