May 22, 2022

First Career Steps Survey: What Are Your Career Interests?

In the First Career Steps Survey, we ask “Do you know yet what career areas might interest you?” and then “If you can, list one or more career areas that might interest you.” with room for up to four open-ended answers. From the start of the survey in November 2011 to November 2021, 6,478 of the 7,500+ survey respondents have listed one or more career interest areas in this question, with a total of 17,313 open-ended responses. Skills Library interns have coded these answers into career clusters and broad categories, allowing us to look for common interests, patterns and trends.

The most important finding is, of course, simply that most respondents are able to list one or more career interests. Answers were sometimes broad, such as “working with children” or “something in science,” and sometimes more specific, such as guidance counselor or botanist or sometimes much more specific, such as wildlife educator or DNA forensic scientist.

Another important finding is that although we can see some possible trends over these ten years, the mix of interests has been remarkably similar from one year to the next, reflecting a mix of career areas that students know to be important in their communities, personally engaging, and perhaps linked to personal passions or favorite school subjects.

The chart below presents the distribution by broad category and career cluster and the table shows additional detail by time period. Additional blog posts will look more closely at each of these categories and career clusters, looking at trends, career areas of greatest interest, and career areas that provide opportunities but are less-often-mentioned. This data can useful for:

  • career development professionals who are creating programming to raise awareness of local career opportunities;
  • industry professionals seeking to raise awareness of high-demand and emerging career areas;
  • educators seeking to build interdisciplinary curriculum that appeals to student career interests;
  • school counselors, educators, families and students who are seeing how the impact of pandemic-related stresses might re-shape students’ post-high-school goals.

Please continue to follow the Skills Pages blog to see additional analysis of this survey data, with a focus on each of these career clusters and categories. The First Career Steps survey is a project of The Skills Library, an online survey with over 7,500 responses over ten years, from students in the U.S., Canada and beyond. Thank you to Skills Library interns Emma Klekotka and Ben Gardiner for their work in coding survey responses by career cluster and for insight into the trends and patterns that we see.

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