What Career Paths Can Students Take After High School?

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Hey Taylor:
Any idea what kinds of careers a young adult might look into this day and age? I’ve been talking with my son who just graduated high school about his plans for the future, and I feel like we’re both kind of stumped. - Taylor

Hey Keith: First things first, there's nothing wrong with an 18-year-old who doesn’t know exactly what they want from life! My plans have come a long way since I was in high school, and I think every part of the journey—the peaks and the valleys—have been equally important.

There are a lot of growing job fields that may or may not interest your son. There’s always the option to change course later, but any one of the careers below could lead to a lot of happiness and success.

1. Physician’s Assistant. Most people who want to be doctors know that from an early age. Your son might not want to go the med school route, but becoming a physician’s assistant requires much less schooling and still turns him into a licensed, well-paid medical professional. He could make this the goal of his undergraduate studies and then change course at any point if he’s motivated to do so.

2. Solar and Wind Technicians. If college doesn’t feel like the right choice right now, the renewable energy sectors are always hiring and training, and offering excellent pay. From fixing turbines to installing solar panels, someone can have a nice active job in a field that’s only going to expand in the coming years.

3. Data Analyst. Every day our society moves more online, meaning anyone who can help with data analytics continues to be a more employable member of society. These jobs almost always require at least a bachelor’s degree, but with the right focus you can land a good analyst position without dealing with the extra work and cost of getting a master’s.

4. Gigs. Us parents like to look at long-term careers when helping our children, which is why I started this list with three specific options. However, a young adult trying to find his or her way might be just as well served by settling into the expansive gig economy and patching together a career quilt made of different part-time jobs. He can taxi people around, deliver food, perform odd jobs, write articles, design websites, tutor kids, buy and sell thrift items online, housekeeping, landscaping, etc. The list goes on almost indefinitely and makes a lot of sense for someone who’s not exactly sure what type of degree they want to get.

With the job market coming back to life, opportunities are around every corner. I’d tell your son to start with an area of interest and then look for jobs or schooling programs within that field. Hope this helps!