Sources of Career Information
This section identifies some major sources of information on careers. These sources are meant to be used in addition to those listed at the “Contacts for More Info” tab for each profile.
How to use this information best. The sources mentioned in this section offer different types of information. For example, people you know may provide highly specific information because they have knowledge of you, your abilities and interests, and your qualifications. Other sources, such as those found in the state sources listed, provide information on occupations in each state. Gathering information from a wide range of sources is the best way to determine what occupations may be appropriate for you and in what geographic regions these occupations are found. The sources of information discussed in this section are not exhaustive, and other sources could prove equally valuable in your career search.
Like any major decision, selecting a career involves a lot of fact finding. Fortunately, some of the best informational resources are easily accessible. You should assess career guidance materials carefully. Information that seems out of date or glamorizes an occupation—overstates its earnings or exaggerates the demand for workers, for example—should be evaluated with skepticism. Gathering as much information as possible will help you make a more informed decision.
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People you know. One of the best resources can be your friends and family. They may answer some questions about a particular occupation or put you in touch with someone who has some experience in the field. This personal networking can be invaluable in evaluating an occupation or an employer. People you know will be able to tell you about their specific duties and training, as well as what they did or did not like about a job. People who have worked in an occupation locally also may be able to give you a recommendation and get you in touch with specific employers.
Employers. These are the primary source of information on specific jobs. Employers may post lists of job openings and application requirements, including the exact training and experience required, starting wages and benefits, and advancement opportunities and career paths.
Informational interviews. People already working in a particular field often are willing to speak with people interested in joining their field. An informational interview will allow you to get good information from experts in a specific career without the pressure of undergoing a job interview. These interviews allow you to determine how a certain career may appeal to you while helping you build a network of personal contacts.
Professional societies, trade groups, and labor unions. These sources have information on an occupation or various related occupations with which they are associated or that they actively represent. This information may cover training requirements and earnings, and may provide listings of local employers. These sources may train members or potential members themselves, or they may be able to put you in contact with organizations or individuals who perform such training.
Each occupational profile in the Handbook concludes with a "Contact for More Info" section, which lists organizations that may be contacted for additional information.
Guidance counselors and career counselors. Counselors can help you make choices about which careers might suit you best. They can help you establish which occupations fit your skills by testing your aptitude for various types of work and determining your strengths and interests. Counselors can help you evaluate your options and search for a job in your field or help you select a new field altogether. They also can help you determine which educational or training institutions best fit your goals and then assist you in finding ways to finance your education or training. Some counselors offer other services, such as interview coaching, résumé building, and help in filling out various forms. Counselors in secondary schools and postsecondary institutions may arrange guest speakers, field trips, or job fairs.
You can find guidance and career counselors at
- High school guidance offices
- College career planning and placement offices
- Placement offices in private vocational or technical schools and institutions
- Vocational rehabilitation agencies
- Counseling services offered by community organizations
- Private counseling agencies and private practices
- State employment service offices
When using a private counselor, check to see that the counselor is experienced. One way to do so is to ask people who have used the counselor’s services in the past. The National Board of Certified Counselors is an institution that accredits career counselors. To verify the credentials of a career counselor and to find a career counselor in your area, visit www.nbcc.org/.
Postsecondary institutions. Colleges, universities, and other postsecondary institutions typically put a lot of effort into helping place their graduates in good jobs, because the success of their graduates reflects the quality of their institution and may affect the institution’s ability to attract new students. Postsecondary institutions commonly have career centers with information on different careers, listings of related jobs, and alumni contacts in various professions. Career centers frequently employ career counselors who generally provide their services only to their students and alumni. Career centers can help you build your résumé, find internships and co-ops—which can lead to full-time positions—and tailor your course selection or program to make you a more marketable job applicant.
Local libraries. Libraries can be a valuable source of information. Because most areas have libraries, they can be a convenient place to look for information. Also, many libraries provide access to the Internet and email.
Libraries may have information on job openings, locally and nationally; potential contacts within occupations or industries; colleges and financial aid; vocational training; individual businesses or careers; and writing résumés. Libraries frequently have subscriptions to various trade magazines that can provide information on occupations and industries. Your local library also may have video materials. These sources often have references to organizations that can provide additional information about training and employment opportunities.
If you need help getting started or finding a resource, ask your librarian for assistance.
Internet resources. A wide variety of career information is easily accessible on the Internet. Online resources include job listings, résumé posting services, and information on job fairs, training, and local wages. Many of the resources listed elsewhere in this section have Internet sites that include valuable information on potential careers. No single source contains all information on an occupation, field, or employer; therefore, you will likely need to use a variety of sources.
When using Internet resources, be sure that the organization is a credible, established source of information on the particular occupation you are interested in. Individual companies may include job listings on their websites, as well as information about required credentials, wages and benefits, and the job’s location. Contact information, such as whom to call or where to send a résumé, is usually included.
Some sources exist primarily as a Web service. These sources often have information on specific jobs and can greatly aid in the job-hunting process. Some commercial sites offer Web services, as do federal, state, and some local governments. CareerOneStop, a joint program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and the states as well as local agencies, provides these services free of charge.
Online Sources from the Department of Labor. A major resource in the U.S. Department of Labor's Labor Market Information System is the CareerOneStopsite. This site includes links to the following sources:
- State job banks allow you to search job openings listed with state employment agencies.
- America’s Career InfoNetprovides data on employment growth and wages by occupation; the knowledge, skills, and abilities required by an occupation; and links to employers.
- America’s Service Locatoris a comprehensive database of career centers and information on unemployment benefits, job training, and educational opportunities.
- O*net Online provides occupational information, including descriptors on hundreds of occupations.
For more information on specific occupations, you can also visit the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS publishes a wide range of labor market information, from regional wages for specific occupations to statistics on national, state, and area employment. For more information, see the section on occupational wage data.
For information on training, workers’ rights, and job listings, visit the Employment and Training Administration website.
The Occupational Outlook Quarterly (OOQ) is a career magazine published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. The magazine includes many articles about finding, applying for, and choosing jobs. See, for example, the following OOQ articles:
- "Job search in the age of the Internet: Six job seekers in search of employers," online at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2003/summer/art01.pdf
- “Focused Jobseeking: A measured approach to looking for work,” online at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2011/spring/art01.pdf
- "Résumés, applications, and cover letters," online at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2009/summer/art03.pdf
- “Informational interviewing: Get the inside scoop on careers,” online at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2010/summer/art03.pdf
- "Getting back to work: Returning to the labor force after an absence," online at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2004/winter/art03.pdf
Organizations for specific groups. Some organizations provide information designed to help specific groups of people. Consult directories in your library’s reference center or in a career guidance office for information on additional organizations associated with specific groups.
Workers with disabilities:
Information on employment opportunities, transportation, and other considerations for people with a wide variety of disabilities is available from the following sources:
- National Organization on Disability, 5 East 86th Street, New York, NY 10028. Telephone: (646) 505-1191
- Job Accommodation Network (JAN), Telephone: (800) 526-7234 TTY: (877) 781-9403
- A comprehensive federal Web site of disability-related resources, accessible at http://www.disability.gov
Workers with vision problems:
Information on the free national reference and referral service for the blind can be obtained by contacting
- National Federation of the Blind, 200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, MD 21230. Telephone: (410) 659-9314
- National Council on Aging, 1901 L St. NW., 4th Floor., Washington, DC 20036. Telephone: (202) 479-1200
- National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, Inc., 1220 L St. NW., Suite 800, Washington, DC 20005. Telephone: (202) 637-8400
Contact the nearest regional office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans Employment and Training Service or
- Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL), which explains how military personnel can meet civilian certification and license requirements related to their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).
- Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau, Telephone: (800) 827-5335
Federal laws, executive orders, and selected federal grant programs bar employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and handicap. Information on how to file a charge of discrimination is available from U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offices around the country. Their addresses and telephone numbers are listed in telephone directories under U.S. Government, EEOC. Telephone: (800) 669-4000 TTY: (800) 669-6820
Office of Personnel Management. Information on obtaining civilian positions within the federal government is available from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management through USAJobs.gov, the federal government’s official employment information system.
Military. The military employs people in, and has information on, hundreds of occupations. Information is available on tuition assistance programs, which provide money for school and other educational debt repayments. Information on military service can be provided by your local recruiting office, or visit the Handbook profile on . You can also find more information on careers in the military at Today’s Military.
Whereas the Handbook provides information for occupations on a national level, each state has detailed information on occupations and labor markets within its respective jurisdictions. State occupational projections are available at http://www.projectionscentral.com.
Labor Market Information Division, Alabama Department of Industrial Relations
Research and Analysis Section, Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Office of Employment and Population Statistics, Arizona Department of Administration
Labor Market Information, Arkansas Department of Workforce Services
Labor Market Information, State of California Employment Development Department
Labor Market Information, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment
Office of Research, Connecticut Department of Labor
Office of Occupational and Labor Market Information, Delaware Department of Labor
District of Columbia
Office of Labor Market Research and Information, D.C. Department of Employment Services
Labor Market Statistics Center, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
Georgia Department of Labor
Agency for Human Resources Development, Guam Department of Labor
Research and Statistics Office, Hawai’i Workforce Infonet
Communications and Research Division, Idaho Department of Labor
Economic Information and Analysis Division, Illinois Department of Employment Security
Research and Analysis, Indiana Department of Workforce Development
Labor Market & Workforce Information Division, Iowa Workforce Development
Labor Market Information Services, Kansas Department of Labor
Workforce Kentucky, Office of Employment and Training
Labor Market Information, Louisiana Workforce Commission
Center for Workforce Research and Information, Maine Department of Labor
Office of Workforce Information and Performance,
Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development
Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives
Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development
Labor Market Information, Mississippi Department of Employment Security
Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Missouri Department of Economic Development
Research and Analysis Bureau, Montana Department of Labor & Industry
Office of Labor Market Information, Nebraska Department of Labor
Research and Analysis Bureau, Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation
Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau, New Hampshire Employment Security
Bureau of Labor Market Information, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Economic Research and Analysis Bureau, New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions
New York State Department of Labor
Division of Employment Security, North Carolina Department of Commerce
Labor Market Information Center, North Dakota Workforce Intelligence Network
Bureau of Labor Market Information, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
Economic Research and Analysis, Oklahoma Employment Security Commission
Oregon Employment Department
Center for Workforce Information & Analysis, Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry
Department of Work and Human Resources
Labor Market Information, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training
Labor Market Information Department, South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce
Labor Market Information Center, South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation
Employment Security Division, Department of Labor and Workforce Development
The Labor Market & Career Information Department, Texas Workforce Commission
Utah Department of Workforce Services
Economic & Labor Market Information Office, Vermont Department of Labor
U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Labor
Virginia Employment Commission
Labor Market and Economic Analysis Branch, Washington State Employment Security Department
Research, Information and Analysis Division; Workforce West Virginia
Labor Market Information, Department of Workforce Development
Research and Planning, Wyoming Department of Workforce Services
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Sources of Career Information,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/about/sources-of-career-information.htm (visited December 11, 2013).
Publish Date: Tuesday, August 7, 2012