Sunday, March 3, 2013

Today's Technological Tool: The Occupational Outlook Handbook

One resource I like to use with my English IV class, which is workplace communications, is the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here's the page for the career of "high school teacher."

This is a credible and easy-to-navigate website that gives current information on a plethora of different careers. Each semester, I have my English IV seniors do a career comparison project where they choose 3 careers they are somewhat interested in, complete a profile on each answering questions about salaries, job outlook, a day in the life, etc. and then make 3 graphs, charts, or other visual aids comparing data from all three jobs.

This accomplishes a few things:
1. It forces students to search for information on the Internet. Seriously, I know how stupid this sounds since our kids are supposed to be tech-savvy, but you would be shocked at how many students, given a piece of info they have to find on the Web, don't even know where to begin. OR they look in one spot and if it isn't there, they give up.

2. It is hopefully helpful for them in the real world because it gives them information on possible careers and gives them some real facts about it. I have had many students in the past say they were unaware how little/how much a certain career made or that a job they wanted had a terrible job outlook, etc.

3. It gives them experience using Excel or Word to make graphs or visuals. Most of my students have little to no experience in Excel, yet many jobs they want will require knowledge of it. We do a unit on graphs, charts, etc., when each is appropriate, etc. and then I teach them how to make these things in Excel. They have to visually represent three different types of measurable data that they found in the OCO in the appropriate type of visual aid. So they may do a bar graph comparing average salaries of each job, etc.

If a student tells me he/she has absolutely no idea what job they want to do or what careers to do the project on, I have them take a career quiz at a place like

While you obviously have to take these quizzes with a grain of salt, it does give them a place to start and some career titles they may not have heard of before.

I love the OCO because it's a government site, it's reputable, and the info is pretty recent (the salary listed above is the 2010 median). It also has a wide variety of jobs and career fields too, so they should be able to find either the specific career they want or one very close to it. This would be a great website to use in a resource management or career course, and would be a nice tool even for guidance counselors to use when talking to seniors about jobs or college. 

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