The Most Popular Career Choices for High Schoolers


High school students---particularly those in their final two years---begin to get serious about choosing a career path as the time approaches for making a decision about college. And if they decide against college, they must consider other options to pursue---military service or a job, for example. Although most colleges don't require students to declare a major in the first year, students often base their college decisions on the type of career they'd like to have.

Gallup Youth Survey

  • Gallup, one of the world's most highly regarded polling organizations, for more than 70 years has closely studied many aspects of human sentiment and behavior. In its 2005 Gallup Youth Survey, the organization polled more than 1,000 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17, asking them to name their top three career options. Overall results, combining the responses of both males and females, showed the 10 most popular choices were as follows (percentage of respondents choosing that job is supplied in parentheses): teacher (8 percent), doctor (8 percent), lawyer (7 percent), sports job of some sort (5 percent), science/biology (5 percent), architecture (4 percent), business (percent), military (4 percent), engineer (4 percent) and nurse (3 percent).

Breakdown by Gender

  • It's also interesting to examine the poll as it reflects the career choices of men and women. The top 10 career choices for men, in descending order, were sports job (8 percent), doctor (7 percent), architecture (6 percent), engineer (6 percent), teacher (6 percent), business (5 percent), lawyer (5 percent), military (5 percent), science/biology (5 percent) and computers (4 percent). The top career choices of females, according to Gallup, were teacher (11 percent), lawyer (9 percent), doctor (8 percent), nurse (6 percent), fashion designer (5 percent), science/biology (5 percent), author/writer (4 percent), veterinarian (4 percent), artist (4 percent) and unspecified medical field (4 percent).

Career Suggestions

  • More recently, Gallup in early 2009 conducted a poll of slightly more than 1,000 adults, age 18 and above, and asked them to name the career fields that they felt showed the greatest promise for today's young people. From those poll results, Gallup distilled a list of the top six recommendations for both young men and young women. For males, the top five recommended careers were medical/health care (22 percent), computers (7 percent), trades/blue collar (6 percent), technology/electronics (5 percent), business/sales/self-employed (5 percent) and engineering (5 percent). Recommended jobs for females included medical/health care (27 percent), nursing (10 percent), computers (7 percent), teaching (7 percent), business/sales/self-employed (5 percent) and technology/electronics (4 percent).

10 Hottest Careers

  • Career Explorer, an online career counseling service, offered this list of the 10 occupations it expected to show the greatest growth between 2002 and 2012. In descending order, these are: network systems and data communications analysts, physician assistants, medical assistants, medical records and health information technicians, computer application software engineers, physical therapist aides, fitness trainers and aerobics instructors, database administrators, veterinary technologists and technicians, and dental hygienists.

Looking Ahead

  • An article published in Teen Ink magazine, also available online, named some of the career fields that are likely to witness sharp growth over the next decade or two. The medical/health care field topped the list, followed by library and information science, audiology, engineering, science, computers, architecture, fundraising, landscape architecture, management consulting, politics, nursing and systems analysis.

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