Career Planning


Many students see career planning as something that begins once they have graduated from high school or college. On the contrary, career planning is a process that can and should begin while in high school, and most naturally should continue into the college years, if college is the appropriate path for your chosen career.

There are many resources available to help you plan. Alton High School primarily uses the Career Cruising tool to help students link their preferences to careers (but feel free to peruse additional resources). During freshman year, students will be guided through the Career Cruising process, and they can then begin the first steps toward career planning.

At the high school level, perhaps the best way of starting is to begin the process of self-exploration. Self-exploration allows you to think about your:
  • Skills and Abilities
  • Interests
  • Personal Priorities
  • Training and Education
  • Life Experiences


College or Other Options?

In addition to attending a four-year college or university, there are many other options for spending the years after high school. You may prefer a career or vocational college or institute, or choose to enlist in the military.  Perhaps you want to find an internship that allows you to explore your career choice further before making a commitment.  Visit AgExplorer.com if you are interested in possible careers involving the agricultural industry.

Below are post-secondary options to explore with your guidance counselor:

Apprenticeship Training 

An apprenticeship is a formal way of learning a skill or trade by working with someone who works at that particular job. Apprenticeship programs almost always include class study along with a full-time job. Apprenticeships usually cover periods of time specified by the government or labor unions. Time spent in an apprenticeship depends on the difficulty of the skill to be learned. While most programs are between three and four years, a few can be as short as two years or as long as five or six years. One advantage of an apprenticeship is that rather than paying for the training him/herself, the apprentice is being paid while learning a skill. The number of apprenticeship openings is limited and not all qualified applicants can enter such programs. Tests and personal interviews are often required. Occupations with apprenticeship training include carpentry, plumbing, etc.

Business, Trade or Technical Programs 

Students may opt to pursue further training in business, trade or technical programs. Regional vocational technical schools such as ITT Technical Institute or Lewis and Clark Community College offer many such programs. The training provided is practical and prepares students for employment in specific fields. Students can be trained in secretarial skills, computer programming, electronics, auto repair, cosmetology, drafting, health occupations, and travel and tourism, and other careers. Job placement services are usually available upon completion of a program. The length of a program varies from several weeks to several years. Costs can also vary depending upon the length and quality of training. 

Correspondence Study 

This is a way of continuing education if the student cannot or does not wish to attend formal classes. Many correspondence courses help an individual learn a specialized skill. The student is usually required to pass tests before receiving credit. Cost is not high and students can work full-time while studying in their spare time. Jobs are as diverse as accountant, radio/TV repairer, locksmith, robotics technician, gem identification, appliance repair, and legal assistant.

Military Training 

Branches of the military offer training in almost 1,500 different occupations. Many of these are similar to occupations found in civilian life. The training varies a great deal in length of time and may include classroom study, on-the-job training, or both. Enlistees are paid while they receive their training. The military prepares persons for a variety of jobs including aircraft mechanic, heavy equipment operator, computer or electronics technician, meteorologist, fire fighter, and welder. See the Online Military Career Guide — www.todaysmilitary.com/careers.

Working Full-Time 

A student planning to work might consider the following steps. 
  • Visit an office of the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The primary function of this state agency is to help you find employment.

  • Seek out companies and businesses that offer on-the-job training (OJT) programs to new employees. OJT can help a person gain the skills to succeed in certain jobs and also to advance later on.










Subpages (1): Additional Resources