10 Careers to Pursue After High School: Jobs That Will Set Your Teen Up For Success



According to the Pew Research Center, 34% of Americans rank careers among one of the top things that bring us meaning in life. It was the second most popular response right after family.

Nationwide, we place a great deal of importance on our professional lives, that much is more than clear. This makes transitioning into the workforce as a teen or young adult an incredibly daunting prospect.

Thankfully, there are several tools at your child’s disposal to make the transition easier. Encourage your teen to talk to their high school counselor about possible career paths. Tell your college student to check in with their school’s career center and to do it well before their final year.

Listen to your child, and help when you can. Don’t know where to get started? Draw inspiration from this list of careers to pursue after high school.

Learn A Trade and Become A Plumber

First, remember to think outside of the box! Careers to pursue after high school may be careers your teen can pursue immediately after graduating — or after relatively short training or schooling. In more cases than not, taking up a trade pays extraordinarily well.

For instance, working as a plumber at a plumbing company pays $53,910 to $71,140 per year. Plus, trade schools are faster (averaging just two years or less), cost less, provide hands-on training, and offer superior job placement programs.

If becoming a plumber is the right fit for your child, encourage them to enroll in trade school. From there, they will find an apprenticeship, take a licensing exam, and, if desired, begin their own practice.

Fix Buildings And Become An Electrician

Working as an electrician is another worthwhile and lucrative trade for your teen to pursue. “The average annual salary for electricians is $55,477. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the highest 10% of electricians earn more than $90,420,” PayScale writes. The earnings potential does not end there. PayScale adds that some electricians, particularly those who run their own businesses, may earn as much as $150,000 to $200,000 a year.

As with becoming a plumber, being an electrician requires schooling as well as taking an exam for the appropriate licensing.

Is being an electrician the right fit for your teen or young adult child? That all depends. Find out what makes him or her happy. Some people find that completing tangible projects and helping people gives them meaning, and that makes working in a trade, like working as an electrician, a good fit for them. Similarly, some people value job security and a stable paycheck far more than others. More often than not, working in a trade provides reliable work.

Remember, when it comes to careers to pursue after high school, neither you nor your child should overlook trade schools and learning a trade as a possible option.

Use Numbers And Become An Accountant

Accounting is a well-paid and rewarding profession. It is another career that you may not immediately think of, but should definitely top your child’s list of potential careers to pursue after high school. According to U.S. News, accountants make an average $70,500 annually, and the highest-paid accountants average $92,910 per year.

Becoming an accountant generally requires a Bachelor’s degree in accounting as well as passing any appropriate exams, like the Certified Personal Accountant (CPA) exam. For some career paths in accounting, it may be wise to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Those who choose a career in accounting enjoy the considerable perks of the profession. As an accountant, there are plenty of job opportunities, plenty of room for professional growth, and even the potential to gain some of the first-hand experience required to become an entrepreneur.

If your teen or young adult excels at math and is passionate about numbers, talk to them about the benefits of a career in accounting.

Fight For Others And Become A Lawyer

The top careers to pursue after high school are sometimes the most obvious choices. While many parents may extoll the benefits of becoming a doctor or lawyer, there is a significant amount of truth in that when it comes to practicing law.

According to the American Business Journal (ABA), the demand for well-educated attorneys and lawyers is higher than ever before. Due to the global pandemic, divorce rates are sky-high, tenant-landlord relationships are particularly fraught, and a record number of businesses are filing for financial assistance and bankruptcy.

While this certainly isn’t welcome news, it stands to reason that there are a lot of opportunities for lawyers in the coming years.

Working as a lawyer is profitable and, in just about all cases, involves directly helping someone. For example, if your child takes the path to ultimately work in a family law firm, their job may be challenging, but it will also involve helping families through some of the most difficult times of their lives. A family lawyer may help amicably divide up assets during a divorce, determine a fair child custody arrangement, or even help with adoption proceedings.

For fulfilling and lucrative careers to pursue after high school, becoming a lawyer may top the list.

Help People And Become A Therapist

If your child genuinely likes people and wants to help, have your teen or college student look into becoming a therapist.

Psychology Today recommends becoming a therapist if “intimate talks invigorate you… even if you’re shy.” If your teen wishes to help people in a meaningful way — or even if he or she has experienced their own hardships or mental health struggles — that makes them a great candidate to become a therapist. Therapists who have experienced anxiety and depression tend to have greater empathy.

Plus, therapy is a flexible field — one that your child can tailor to his or her interests. For example, if they are interested in addiction issues, they may consider working as a therapist at a rehab center. Those interested in family dynamics and couples may want to consider a job as a marriage counselor. Finally, those who want to help reverse veterans’ troubling depression and suicide rates may choose to work at a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital or another similar facility.

When it comes to careers to pursue after high school, encourage your teen to become a therapist if they genuinely wish to help. It is among the most rewarding professions and, after several years of experience, it has the potential to become a high-earning profession, too.

Interact With Others And Become A Salesperson

If your teen or college student is a people person but wants to explore career paths that are a little less emotionally heavy than practicing as a family lawyer or therapist, ask them if they have what it takes to become a salesperson.

Working as a salesperson at car dealerships, for example, requires daily interaction with people. It involves identifying their needs and doing what you can to meet them and ultimately make a sale.

How do these jobs stack up against the others? An inexperienced car salesperson may only net $25,000 to $30,000 a year. A seasoned car salesman or saleswoman may bring home $95,000 annually — or more. It is a profession that literally is what you put into it.

If you are trying to help your teen or young adult child determine whether the sales industry is right for them, start with these basic pros and cons.

  • Sales packs enormous potential. If your child is competitive, sales may very well be the perfect profession for them. Commission gives sales agents the opportunity to continually improve, year after year. Unlike other, salaried jobs, when Christmas time or any other big expenses roll around, it is possible to work harder to earn a bigger paycheck.
  • Sales is extremely goal-oriented work. Some of us feel lost without a concrete goal. That is not the case in sales. If your teen is all about collecting accolades, working in sales is a great opportunity to do just that.
  • It is a high-risk, high-reward profession. By contrast, if your college student is prone to anxiety and prefers stability, sales may not be his or her thing. While taking a job largely based on commission can easily pay off, there may be some ebbs and flows. There may be some bad weeks — or even months. It takes a strong character and a lot of resilience to withstand them.

Is sales one of the top careers to pursue after high school? That depends on your child. Talk closely with him or her, and weigh all the potential benefits and drawbacks of a career in sales.

Improve People’s Health And Become A Nurse

Right now and for the foreseeable future, the demand for nurses is extraordinarily high. Whether your child shows interest in working as a traditional registered nurse or in registered nurse travel jobs, chances are these jobs will be widely available. Your child will get to choose where they want to live, comfortably secure a job, and make an impressive salary of $71,730 or more per year.

What makes a good nurse? Ideally, a nurse will be comfortable working odd hours, standing long hours on his or her feet, analyzing information, following hospital procedural guidelines, and empathizing with patients and patients’ families. It is critical for nurses to listen actively, even during long, tiring shifts. “If you aren’t listening, you could miss an important diagnosis, an important intervention, or an important complication,” Rasmussen College writes.

When choosing the best careers to pursue after high school, make sure your child knows that are many benefits to becoming a nurse — high demand, comfortable wages, and helping people every day. While this is certainly true, remind your child that nursing will require long hours and a wealth of empathy, too.

Build Homes And Become A Contractor

Some teens find careers to pursue after high school from their lived experience. If you recently worked with a home building company to build your own home and your teen or young adult child took an avid interest in the process, they may want to consider a career as a home builder or contractor.

This is the perfect job for a teen who loves to stay on their toes and loves it when each day brings something new. Each new project will present unique challenges. In fact, each day may present unique challenges.

If your teen or college student endeavors to become a general contractor, he or she will work closely coordinating the home building process with others.

Fix People’s Teeth And Become A Dentist

When it comes to careers to pursue after high school that help people and make you feel good, you may not immediately think about dentists, but think again!

“More than one-third of American adults are unhappy with their smile,” according to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and PRNewswire. Becoming a dentist and helping people take care of their teeth and create a smile they are proud of is a lot more satisfying than you teen might originally think.

Plus, dentists are very well paid, making $151,850 annually on average, and up to $208,000 per year on the higher end of the spectrum.

Climb High And Become A Roofer

According to Monster, becoming a roofing contractor may be “the construction industry’s best-kept secret.” Why?

Being a roofer takes just a few years of hands-on apprenticeship, it pays well, roofers are in high demand, and the job changes on a day-to-day basis. Plus, the dangers of working as a roofer may be overstated. There are safety measures in place to ensure that workers stay safe and mitigate all possible risks.

When looking at careers to pursue after high school, your teen shouldn’t overlook becoming a roofer. It is a well-paid job without lengthy and costly education.

Many adults still struggle to pinpoint exactly where they want to be in their careers and exactly what they want to do. Do not let your teenager or twenty-something tackle the process of figuring it out without help. Use the list above to get some ideas. Encourage them to talk to you, career services, and high school guidance counselors.

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