Parent Primer On Career Exploration

Parents Make A Difference

Parents play a major role in raising career aspirations for their child. Parents are the primary influence on their teen’s interests, beliefs, values, knowledge, and self-concept. Parents can provide the support to their teen as they begin the career development process by supporting and encouraging areas of interest and talent.

In Marion County career awareness begins in the 5th grade. As students begin to explore their interests and connect them to careers, parents can contribute to career development because they are often the primary source of their child’s work values and attitudes.

Career decision-making skills are linked to early childhood experiences, family attitudes and practices regarding careers, and parental role modeling. Parent expectations and support contribute significantly to helping their child have the maturity to make career decisions.

Why Career Exploration?

Career development is a life-long process that begins in early childhood. It involves self-concept and awareness, career awareness and exploration, learning to make decisions, acquiring work skills, and career planning. Career development includes values, interests, personality, aptitudes, and interpersonal skills.

Career exploration provides a reality check by helping the teen explore occupations and learn about various job descriptions and requirements for job entry and for success on the job.

Career exploration expands the teen’s horizon by exposing them to occupations they didn’t even know existed.

What Are Career Clusters And Why Are They Important?

A career cluster consists of occupations that have been grouped according to common knowledge and skills. There are many occupations within each career cluster that require different levels of training and education. After researching occupations, teens usually find that their interests fall within one to three career clusters. Identification of a career cluster will help your teen choose their major area of interest for high school, including the sequential courses required and or suggested for a particular career cluster.

Career Clusters Offered in Marion County Schools

Advanced Manufacturing: all careers in advanced manufacturing require a strong mechanical ability, specialized skills, communication skills and computation skills. You will be required to apply problem solving, make decisions, and work in a team environment. Programs of Study include: Machining Technology (Marion County High School); and Welding (Marion County High School and South Pittsburg High School). 

Architecture & Construction: this career cluster prepares learners for careers in designing, planning, managing, building and maintains the building environment. People employed in this cluster work on new structures, restorations, additions, alterations and repairs. The Program of Study, Structural Systems, is offered at South Pittsburg High School and Whitwell High School. Architectural & Engineering Design courses are offered as complementary electives at WHS.

Business Management & Administration: this career cluster prepares learners for careers in planning, organizing, directing and evaluating business functions essential to efficient and productive business operations. The Program of Study, Business Technology, is offered at Marion County High School, South Pittsburg High School, and Whitwell High School.

Education and Training: learners in this career cluster are prepared to plan, manage, and support education and training services and related learning support services. The Program of Study, Teaching as a Profession (K-12), is offered at Marion County High School, South Pittsburg High School, and Whitwell High School.

Finance: this career cluster prepares learners for careers in financial and investment planning, banking, insurance and business financial management and requires specific skills in organization, time management, customer service and communication. The Program of Study, Banking and Finance, is offered at Marion County High School.

Health Science: the Health Science Career Cluster orients students to careers that promote health, wellness, and diagnosis as well as treat injuries and diseases. The Therapeutic Nursing Program of Study is offered at Marion County High School, South Pittsburg High School, and Whitwell High School.

In addition to Therapeutic Nursing POS, an Information Technology Program of Study is offered in the Health Science Cluster. Health Informatics combines knowledge from medical areas, healthcare administration, and information technology. Health Informatics is a dual enrollment program with Cleveland State Community College. 

Human Services: this career cluster prepares individuals for employment in career pathways related to families and human needs. The Program of Study, Family Studies (Social Health Services), is offered at Marion County High School and Whitwell High School.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics): the Project Lead The Way Program of Study is a national model for STEM instruction focusing on activity, project, and problem-based learning. Courses include: Introduction to Engineering, Principles of Engineering, Civil Engineering & Architecture, Digital Electronics, Robotics and Automated Systems, and Engineering Design and Development. Project Lead The Way is offered at Marion County High School, South Pittsburg High School, and Whitwell High School.

Transportation, Distribution & Logistics: this career cluster exposes students to careers and businesses involved in the planning, management, and movement of people, materials, and products by road, air, rail and water. The Program of Study, Automotive Collision Repair, is offered at Marion County High School.

Certified Production Technician Certification:

In conjunction with the Tennessee Center for Applied Technology (TCAT Chattanooga), students enrolled in Welding, Machining Technology, or Engineering Programs of Study are eligible to apply for the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Program. This program is offered to interested students who desire to obtain mastery of the core competencies of manufacturing production at the front-line level (entry-level through front-line supervisor). High school students will have the opportunity to complete individual certificate modules in Safety, Quality Practices & Measurement, Manufacturing Processes & Production, and Maintenance Awareness.

In addition to earning credit hours toward the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Degree (AMT) by completing all course hour requirements, high school students who demonstrated mastery of the four certificates will quality for the Certified Production Technician (CPT), a national certification granted through the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC). Mastery certifies the skills of front-line manufacturing production workers within all sectors of the manufacturing industry.

Current industry partners who have validated the importance of the skills assessed for the Certified Production Technician (CPT) certification are: Jasper Materials Inc., Shaw Inc., Valmont Newmark, and Lodge Manufacturing.

The Steps To Making Career Decisions

Step 1 – self-awareness is the first step in making career decisions. Interest assessments, work experiences, job shadowing, even observing people at work can help your teen to learn about the things they like and dislike about work. Interest inventories can help them narrow down their interests and relate these interests to career clusters and occupations.

Step 2 – help your teen explore a wide range of occupations in a variety of clusters that match the results of the interest and ability assessments. Abilities are those physical and mental activities that one seems to do easily. It’s not necessarily what one knows but it is the ability to do or to learn certain things. Ability assessments can help your teen determine his/her strong areas and how to match those abilities to occupations.

Step 3 – help your teen consider lifestyle implications and the overall impact on life for each option. It is important for your teen to understand the relationship between lifestyle, occupational choice, and educational pursuits. Help your teen understand and balance the difference between wants and needs.

Step 4 – after exploring a variety of careers, help your teen develop a career and education plan to achieve the career goal. Assist your teen in planning required and elective courses within a desired career cluster with the high school guidance counselor. Skills are activities that can be learned or developed by education and/or training. Career and technical education (CTE) courses taken in high school can help your teen develop skills and workforce experience.

Step 5 – revise and review course selections if his/her interests change.

Does Your Teen have The Skills and Qualities Employers Are Looking For?

Employers recognize that basic skills such as reading, writing, and math are a must. Technical skills are important. But employers recognize that another set of skills are crucial to a worker’s ability to work “smarter, not harder”: These are referred to as “soft skills”. “Soft skills” include:

  •         Speaking/Listening Skills
  •         Learning Skills
  •         Problem Solving Skills
  •         Decision Making Skills
  •         Creative Thinking Skills
  •        Team Work and Interpersonal Skills
  •         Responsibility
  •        Initiative
  •        Reliability
  •        Punctuality

Note: For the purpose of this web page, the term “parent” refers to any caretaker or guardian assisting a child or teen with making career decisions.