Helping Your Teen Talk about a Career Path

Parents can play a supportive role as their teens finish high school

As your teenager is nearing adulthood, there will be important decisions they need to make. As a parent, you know you can’t make these decisions for your teen, but you want to be supportive and help steer them in a good direction. What’s the best way to do this? What are some resources that can help?

Fortunately, there are loads of resources online that help young people to explore career options. As a parent, you can encourage your teens to use these resources. You can talk with them about possible career paths and the education they will need to pursue them.

To get the process started, try these tips:

1. First find a comfortable atmosphere
Thinking about college and careers can be overwhelming for some young people. Putting pressure on them to have this discussion can sometimes backfire and make them clam up. For this reason, it’s a good idea to find a comfortable atmosphere where your teen is more likely to talk about the future. This could be while driving in the car with you, relaxing on a sofa in the living room, or while doing an activity together like washing the dishes.

2. Show your teen a few resources, but not too many

There are hundreds of online resources that are aimed at helping people choose career paths. For a young person, it can be hard to figure out which one to use. If you preview a few of them, you may be able to steer your teen toward useful resources. Here are two suggestions:

Education Planner: This is large website coordinated by the U.S. government, which pulls together education and career-related resources such as career videos, career interest surveys, job predictions for the future, information about colleges and career schools, and a large range of other topics for teens.

Occupational Outlook Handbook: This online handbook is a project of the U.S. Department of Labor. It’s a searchable handbook that includes profiles on hundreds of different careers. For each career, you can find out what it’s about, required education, expected pay, and the job outlook for the future.

3. Find real-life references
Reading about colleges, career schools, and job options online is useful. But sometimes it helps to have a real world example to learn from. Try to get your teen to talk with the adults in your life—friends, relatives, neighbors—about their careers. Hearing people’s real-life experiences in different careers might give your teen a better sense of the options.

4. Analyze the pros and cons together
When your teen starts to focus on a few potential educational paths, have a discussion with them about the pros and cons. As a young person, they may not have the life experience to realize some of the pros and cons that will affect them down the road. This is a place where your gentle guidance can help. But ultimately remember that it’s important to support their choice.

5. Plan a path
When your child has narrowed down the options and decided on a path, it’s time to work out the steps they need to get there. Whether it’s a college education, career-focused training school, or a vocational school, it’s important to piece together the steps your teen will need to achieve their career goals.

With this outline, we hope you are ready to help guide your teen during a pivotal time in their lives. Remember to be reassuring about their interests and thoughts. These are big decisions for a young person, and it’s in their best interest to feel supported during this important time.


The Branford Hall Career Institute welcomes recent high school grads and all adult learners who are interested in career-focused training. We prepare students for careers as medical assistants, massage therapists, HVACR technicians, and more. Find out about us by contacting us online.