Researching a Career
Using the Internet
There are many online resources that you can use in researching a career. In this tutorial, we will use teaching as an example of a career to research; however, the steps used will work for any career.
Warning: some of these resources may only be accessible to LSU faculty, staff, and students.
Step One: O*Net
O*NET, the Occupational Information Network, is a comprehensive database from the US Department of Labor that contains basic information regarding skills and occupations based on the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. O*NET is available at http://online.onetcenter.org/. You can also access this database directly through the LSU Libraries LSU Libraries Indexes & Databases page.
From O*NET's homepage, click on the Find Occupations link. This is the page where you can search for information about a specific occupation. In searching for “teacher” in the Title or Occupation search box, you will see that O*NET pulls up many listings for this occupation from its database. To see an example of the kind of information O*NET offers, click on the listing for Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education. O*NET will bring up a brief description of the occupation, along with links to other information in the O*NET database. Click on the Details and Summary buttons to get the specifics on your selected occupation, such as job skills, job knowledge, work activities, and national and local employment trends.
If you haven't decided on a career yet, you can use O*NET's Skills Search to match your particular skills to potential careers. O*NET also contains general career information. From the O*NET homepage, click on the Related Sites link at the top of the page. You will be taken to a page of links regarding career information, including links to federal government job information such as the U.S. Department of Labor and state-specific job programs .
Step Two: Occupational Outlook Handbook
This source is available in print and online. The federal government of the United States produces both versions. The information in the electronic version is the same as that in the print version.
Topics covered by the OOH include:
- Nature of the Work
- Working Conditions
- Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
- Job Outlook
- Related Occupations
- Sources of Additional Information
This is a fully searchable, full-text electronic version of the print publication. To access it, use the URL above. No password is required. You may also access the OOH through the LSU Libraries Indexes & Databases page.
There are three ways to search the OOH Online:
- Use the Search OOH box that appears on every page to find information about a specific occupation by entering a search term or keyword that relates to that profession. For instance, entering "teacher" or "teach" will result in a list of professions related to teaching.
- Browse through listings using the Occupations links that are on the left side of every page in order to find out about a variety of occupations. The OOH divides occupations into 11 major categories; in order to find occupations related to teaching, you would need to look in the Professional category, and select the subcategory of Education, Training, Library, and Museum.
- Use the alphabetical listing of occupations listed on the main page to find information about a specific occupation. Select the letter "T" to view a list of all occupations beginning with the letter "T," including "Teaching."
The material you find here is available in either text or PDF format, which means that you can even save this information as a document to print, email, or save on a disk or thumb drive.
The OOH will link you to additional government publications and web sites with employment information. These links are at the bottom of the page, toward the left, and are labeled Additional Links. These useful sources of information include:
Career Guide to Industries—This publication is set up the same way as the OOH, but provides information on careers by industry rather than job title. This title is also available in print, in the Government Documents stacks, located in the basement of Middleton Library. The Superintendent of Documents number is L2.3/4-3:[year].
Occupational Outlook Quarterly—This publication contains the same type of information as the OOH, but is more up-to-date, because it is published more frequently. You should check this source for the latest information on your chosen career. This publication is also available in print in the Government Documents stacks, located in the basement of Middleton Library. The Superintendent of Documents number is L2.70/4:[volume].
Employment Projections—This site will give you statistical information on which professions are projected to be the fastest growing.
BLS Home—This is the home page for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here you will find government reports, tables, and news releases detailing all sorts of work-related statistical information.
Step Three: Professional Associations
Entries in the Occupational Outlook Handbook have a section called Sources of Additional Information. Among these additional sources are the names of professional associations; most professions have associations that are formed to further and protect the interests of the profession and its members. Physicians have the American Medical Association; University English teachers, the Modern Language Association; Librarians, the American Library Association, and so on. Frequently, these associations provide job listings within their field. Sometimes, however, you must belong to the association to get the latest listings.
If the Occupational Outlook Handbook does not list a professional association in your area, ask for the Encyclopedia of Associations at the Reference Desk, or look for older editions in the stacks (call number: HS17 .G334, which is on the third floor) The Encyclopedia of Associations provides an annual and comprehensive worldwide listing of professional associations. Use the keyword index on volume 3 of the encyclopedia to find a list of associations that involve you career. The encyclopedia will give you contact information for the association, as well as the web address, if there is one.
However, if you know the name of an association, you can find the web site using a search engine. For example, using Google, and confining my search to the exact phrase, "American Federation of Teachers", the American Federation of Teachers home page is the first link. The AFT is also a good place to find information about teaching careers. The AFT publishes reports about teacher salaries, and about research in the field of education.
Step Four: Online Catalog
The online catalog is an electronic index of everything in the library's collection. It is located on the LSU Libraries home page. Accessing the Libraries' holdings is accomplished a number of ways. However, two useful techniques are "Keyword" searching and "Subject" searching.
"Keyword" Searching This is a basic keyword search (make sure you select "keywords anywhere" from the catalog drop-down box), where you can enter simple terms or phrases that describe what you're looking for. Use any term or combination of terms that seems logical to you, such as “teaching and career.”
"Subject" Searching Subject searching is a much more focused means of finding what you want in the online catalog without all the extra results scooped up by "keywords anywhere" searching, so make sure to select "subject" from the catalog drop-down box. Subject searching can be tricky, however, in that you need to know, or be able to guess, the official Library of Congress subject headings that are assigned to each catalog record.
The full record of any item in the Libraries' collection includes subject terms that are hyperlinked to other items on the same subject.
By using the subject term hyperlinks, you can generate a list of library material that is exactly on the subject you are researching.
Searching the LSU Libraries catalog can be tricky, so never, ever hesitate to ask a librarian for help. You can do this in person, with instant messaging, or in an email. Visit our Ask Us! page for the specific contact information:
Step Five: Periodical Indexes
The most up-to-date information on any subject, including occupations, may be found in periodicals—magazines, journals, and newspapers. The electronic indexes and databases to which LSU subscribes provide the easiest access to this growing body of information. All of the databases are accessible through the Indexes & Databases link on the library home page. Below is a brief introduction in the use of just one of these databases.
Academic Search Complete is a full-text database to which LSU subscribes. There are several ways to search Academic Search Complete and several ways to limit the search results. The simplest way to start is with a keyword search within the default parameters. The screen below shows a keyword search in Academic Search Complete.
Search results in Academic Search Complete are reported as a list of citations. The citations, in turn, are hyperlinked to the full text, an abstract, or an extended citation.
Citations may be marked and saved, printed, or e-mailed. You also have the option of doing all of the above with the full articles on your list. Remember, if you find the citation to an article you'd like to read, but cannot access with the LSU Libraries subscriptions, you can always use our Interlibrary Borrowing service: /ILL
Step Six: Federal Government Information
The federal government is one of the largest producers of information in the world. Much of this information is related to the economy or to scientific research that supports the economy and/or well being of the people. For example, the government has an entire federal department, the Department of Education, that oversees the federal efforts to improve education. Like many federal agencies the Department of Education's web site contains statistical information. On the “Research and Stats” page (available as a link at the very bottom of the Dept. of Education's main page), you can find a wide array of information related to Education. This page brings together data from several Department of Education sources including The Condition of Education, The Digest of Education Statistics, and Projections of Education Statistics.
Many other professions or businesses are regulated by the government or have agencies that attempt to provide support and assistance (often in the form of government sponsored research) to the profession or business. LSU Libraries provides a Federal Agency Directory breaking down the hundreds of government agency web sites. If you are unsure of what government agency, if any, represents your field of interest, ask your teacher or a librarian.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) , an agency of the Department of Labor, provides in depth statistics on employment, earnings and prices at the national and regional level. For example, if you want to know what the average annual wage for teachers in Baton Rouge, the BLS's Occupational Employment Statistics will tell you this--if you click on "Data Available" by geographic area: http://www.bls.gov/oes/oes_data.htm
Step Seven: Louisiana State Government Information
Much state government information is available online and is accessible through the Government Information link on the library's home page.
Louisiana.gov This is the main portal for online information on Louisiana.
Through the Employment link (under the "Business" category, available at the top of the main page), researchers can get statistical information on professions and projections on job growth. Additionally, numerous job openings are posted here, which will give the researcher a “real world” sense of what specific jobs involve, what they demand in terms of qualifications, and what they pay.
Through the Louisiana State Census Data Center/Demographics and Geography page (http://louisiana.gov/Explore/Demographics_and_Geography/), you have access to summary statistical information on the economy, as well as labor and earnings statistics, all of which may prove helpful in any analysis of a particular career.