Researching Occupations

Researching organizations and occupations is crucial to finding a good fit for your skills, values, and strengths. This will assist you in narrowing your options and may even bring to your attention occupations you had previously overlooked. You can find information from occupation-related web sites, by conducting informational interviews, or by talking with professors.

Areas to consider as you research occupations:

Nature of the work

  • Why does the occupation exist? What needs does it serve?
  • What are the major duties and responsibilities?
  • Are there specializations within the occupation?

Education, experience, and skill required

  • What college courses are required or helpful for preparation?
  • Are there licensure, certification, or other legal requirements for employment?
  • What abilities, skills or aptitudes should a person have to enter the occupation?
  • What previous work experience is needed to enter the occupation?
  • What special requirements are necessary or helpful (knowledge of foreign language, computer skills, etc.)?

Earnings, benefits, and working conditions

  • What is the average salary range–beginning, middle, and top earnings?
  • What benefits are typically offered?
  • What are the physical working conditions (office, factory, inside/outside, noise level)?
  • What is the average work schedule (hours, time of day or night, overtime)?
  • Are there any physical hazards associated with the type of work?

Employment and advancement outlook

  • What advancement or promotion opportunities exist?
  • How stable is this employment?

Your perception of this occupation

  • What do you like about it? (ex. uses skills that you possess, expresses values that are important to you, offers creativity, provides immediate steady income, etc.)
  • What do you dislike about it? What does the occupation have in it that you would rather avoid?

Related occupations

  • What other occupations are similar to this one?

Click here for a printable PDF of these questions.
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Web resources (including salary info)


    Helps students plan more fulfilling lives by making well-informed decisions about their education and careers.


    A non-commercial website dedicated to providing aspiring career professionals and students with relevant, reliable and up-to-date career and job information.

  • U.S. Department of Labor

    US Department of Labor

    The Occupational Outlook Handbook allows you to research occupations of interest and view a wealth of information including average salaries.

  • careeronestop

    Career One Stop

    Watch short, informative videos about 500+ careers.

  • Good Library

    Good Library

    This page provides a list of career-related books in the library and additional online career exploration sources.


    Review salaries and written reviews for over 14,000 organizations. Current students (with .edu email addresses) can access the info without having to provide any salary info.

  • Career Journal

    Career from the Wall Street Journal

    Salary and hiring trends

  • how to become

    Career exploration with 500+ popular careers



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