Career Exploration Using O*NET

As a career advisor, one of the most important pieces of advice I give to students is to do extensive research on your field of interest early in your program. Career research and exploration can help you identify the areas of your field that you are most interested in. You may also discover some essential skills that you need to develop in order to land that first job in your field. Among the many tools on Career Services’ Career Exploration page, O*NET  is one of the best to help you get started.

Why O*NET?

I love to recommend O*NET because the information on this site comes directly from the U.S. Department of Labor and is updated frequently. From the main page of, you can browse occupations with a “Bright Outlook,” career clusters, jobs in similar industries, and Job Zones.

  • A Bright Outlook marker next to an industry indicates that it is growing faster than average or expected to have over 100,000 job openings within the next ten years.
  • Career clusters include occupations in industries that require similar skills.
  • Industries includes groups of occupations with similar activities, products, or services.
  • Searching by Job Zone sorts occupations based on how much preparation is needed for a particular occupation.

What information can you find on O*NET?

O*NET has a wealth of resources for students and alumni who are exploring options or doing research. For example, let’s say that you are completing your Master of Healthcare Administration, but you aren’t quite sure what your options are or what goes into each occupation. In your search box on O*NET, type in “healthcare administration.” A few of the options that come up are: Health Information Technologists and Medical Registrars, Medical and Health Services Managers, Health Education Specialists, Occupational Health and Safety Specialists, among others.

For this example, let’s say that you are interested in the Medical and Health Services Managers occupation. Clicking on that category brings up a wealth of information. On the Summary Report for this occupation, you’ll find sample job titles, tasks, technology skills needed, credentials, and wages. The Summary Report will also show Job Zone information, such as the level of experience or training. The section on education will also show what type of degree is required for that occupation.

How can you use this information?

If your field requires specialized skills, O*NET can give you hints as to which skills you may want to list on your resume (if you are familiar with them, of course). O*NET can also help you identify skills you may want to learn, such as current technology skills needed in your field. Of course, O*NET’s wage search can show you what the standard wages are for your field in the U.S., in your state, and even within your zip code. The more career research you do, the more prepared you will be to communicate your skills on your resume and during an interview, and ultimately land the job.

Now, I invite you to try it out.  Visit O*NET and type in your area of interest to get results.   Looking to continue your career exploration?  Visit the Career Exploration page for additional resources!

Written by Katy Peper, Internship Advisor