Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Occupational Outlook Handbook - A Sample Search

When I'm working with clients on career development issues, I will almost undoubtedly mention how much I value the Occupational Outlook Handbook. I will share with you my experience of how I would utilize this tool if I were researching careers. There are two ways that I would approach this tool: I would either just start searching the A-Z index, which organizes career information alphabetically by job title/cluster, or I would take a career assessment, such as the Strong Interest Inventory, which would provide me with a list of possible job title matches. The latter approach is a more focused and less timely approach, but both will garner the same results; that being detailed career information. Here is a sample search for the career area of Social Worker. More...
Let's say I'm interested in becoming a Social Worker. I've heard some things about this career, but I don't know anyone personally who holds this occupation, so I want to gain some more information about what it entails. I would first use the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) to research the position, and then would setup an informational interview with an actual Social Worker if the research proved interesting to me. You will see a lot of information when you visit the OOH homepage. It actually lists the different ways you may want to use it, and I usually choose option 3, the A-Z index. After clicking on the A-Z index link, you will see the job title listing, organized alphabetically. So, I will click on "S" for Social Work. As I scroll through the "S" titles, I see a few relevant titles (10 beginning with the word "Social"), but there is one that seems most appealing to me - "Social Workers." The first section is Significant Points, and this is basically the abstract for the job title, touching on the highlights of the position. The next section is the Nature of the Work, which explains typical responsibilities and tasks for this occupation along with certain occupational specialties. For Social Workers, it lists these specialties: Child/Family/School, Medical/Public Health, and Mental Health/Substance Abuse.

Then I read on about Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement. I find out a Bachelor's degree is needed to get started in Social Work, but for the type of position that interests me most, I would need a Master's in Social Work. There is also information about licensure, certification, and advancement. I also see Employment Stats and the Job Outlook, which shows employment for Social Workers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. Not a bad career to be interested in with that kind of outlook. The Earnings section shows me how much money Social Workers are making in different settings. That's great information for someone researching careers. There are also sections with helpful resources (professional organizations, regional information, etc.) and relevant positions. The Related Occupations section can be extremely helpful for someone who researches a career of interest but finds that the job doesn't pay enough money or there is a significant amount of education required. Perhaps one of the Related Occupations requires less education or pays better.

This is just a brief exploration into the information on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website. I recommend that you spend some time with the OOH and the BLS website to find its full potential for your career research.

Take care,
Chris

1 comment:

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