Career Exploration for Non-College-Bound Teens

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Career Exploration for Non-College-Bound Teens. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Career Exploration for Non-College-Bound Teens

Career Exploration for Non-College-Bound Teens

Not all teens should go to college! That’s a fact. So, for teens who are career bound, how do they handle career exploration? There are so many choices and directions they could go. Vicki shares the guidance she gives career-bound teens when she is wearing her experience in her career coaching hat in this episode.

As you know there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school. There’s not ONE kind of teen. And there’s not ONE right kind of career path. For the many teens who do not need to go to college, that’s cool! You need to do what is right for you to develop your:

  • Interests
  • Talents
  • Opportunities

It is wise to have some intentionality with career exploration during high school (especially by eleventh and twelfth grades). That way when the never-ending question: “So, what are you going to do AFTER high school?” happens, they have some kind of answer.

Even if this is not their only career option, it gives teens confidence to say, “I’m thinking about…”.

Career Exploration: It gives teens confidence to say, "I'm thinking about...".

What opportunities are there to explore so your teen can be employment ready after high school?

There are so many different kinds of teens and so many different interests and needs. That means, there’s not ONE right way to handle career exploration for non-college-bound teens. That’s okay! Let’s look at some options:

For teens who already are pretty certain they know what they want to do

For instance, perhaps your teen has always wanted to be a cosmetologist, firefighter, join the military, or become a plumber. They are free to start jumping in on the process during their homeschool high school years.

You can start as soon as possible to help your teen gain experience in that area:

  • volunteering
  • apprenticing or
  • paid entry-level, related job

If your teen was interested in cosmetology, she could offer to do one of those three (volunteer, apprentice or simple job) in positions such as: floor sweeper, receptionist, etc. This gives her a feel for the industry. Also, find out the state requirements for training. Can she start a cosmetology school during high school?

Or if you have teens interested in a trade, high schoolers can often start taking training courses during high school at trade schools, community colleges or unions. After a few hands-on training classes, teens will find they love the job (or not). They will also be networking and finding opportunities that will open for them either before or after graduation.

For teens who know they do not want to go to college but do not have a clue what they want to do

Many teens do not have any idea what they want to do after graduation. That is okay. They do not need to know everything about the future during high school. However, it is wise to help them explore. Here are some ideas:

  • Give them rich experiences
    • Many times teens do not know what they want to do because they have not experienced it yet. One kind of rich experience is field trips. Hey, the good thing about homeschooling is that we homeschool moms tend to value field trips (although sometimes at high school level, it is harder to squeeze them in to our teens’ busy schedules).
    • However, if you create a Career Exploration elective credit for their transcript, you can log many field trips towards that credit. That is because, any trip gives a little more life experience. Any life experience helps build the ability to make decisions- especially career decisions.
    • For instance: ranger-led nature walks at state parks, cooking demonstrations at special events, car shows or museum exhibits. Sometimes, a teen will get inspired by a watching the person in charge of whatever event they are experiencing. They think: “Hmmm, this might be a cool job!” Or, on the other hand, they might think, “Ugh, I would NEVER want to do that!” Either way is valuable career exploration.
  • Show them role models
    • Movies based on careers
    • Biographies of interesting jobs
    • FB Watches or YouTubes about interesting jobs
  • Volunteer work
    • Teens need to do volunteer work. It is good for transcript and the soul. Service work is SO important for personal knowledge and development, as well as making the world a better place.
    • Some volunteer opportunities our teens have done:
      • Church (worship, set up, digital team, nursery, office)
      • Digital volunteer opportunities
      • Food bank
      • State park volunteer events
      • Library volunteers

For teens, whether they have a clue about career or not, try a career exploration course

A good career exploration course is very helpful. For non-college-bound teens, 7Sisters Homeschool has a Career Exploration textbook. Even if you choose something else, think about looking for curriculum that includes (like our textbook):

  • What is God’s will?
    • Teens who are believers sometimes feel anxious about choosing a career that will please God. A good curriculum helps them trust God to direct their paths.
  • Past experiences
    • What have teens already done that help them find strengths or interests
  • What other people see in them
    • Get some feedback from people who know them
  • Can they identify interests?
    • IF the power went out for the day, what would you do for fun? If you had a day to yourself with no chores or schoolwork, what would you do?
  • Define career values
    • Career values help teens choose a career field by defining what is important to them: Work hours, desire for involvement in things after work, level of income desired, etc. (Rabbit trail, all teens will benefit from taking a Financial Literacy course that helps them understand and plan for financial responsibilities coming their way in adulthood.)

Explore careers

Check out career descriptions and information at

Join a club or interest group

Sometimes a group experience will help them explore an interest or strength, network or lead to the next interesting experience. Even if it does not turn out to be fun, no experience is wasted. All experiences are growth, one way or the other.

Try some apprenticeships

We cannot recommend this enough. See if you can help your teen find something that can count as apprenticeship.

Be sure to log everything!

Those Career Exploration electives are SO valuable and look great on the transcript!

For more information, here are tips for scheduling senior year for career-bound teens.

For more on this topic:

Join Vicki for a quick discussion to help non-college-bound teens get their career exploration underway! So, enjoy your “just average” teens and prepare them for the life God has planned for them.


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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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