Career-seekers are spoiled for choice these days. With unlimited iterations of job titles available under the 1,016 O*NET occupation titles , it can be a daunting task to determine exactly how a person will spend the next 50 years of their life. For decades conventional wisdom held that graduating high school seniors should seek a bachelor’s degree at all costs to obtain an upwardly mobile, high-paying career. The modern world, however, is trying to establish more alternative career paths pursuable without the heavy debt often associated with traditional college or university education. Vocational education and trade schools are all solid options to learning a skill with great earning potential and embarking on a fulfilling career. As early as high school, Career and Technical Education concentrators are exploring career themes of interest while learning a set of technical and employability skills for current and emerging occupations; these programs prepare students for postsecondary degrees or certificates, apprenticeships, or employment. Entrepreneurship is another option which allows an individual to capitalize on their creativity, think outside the box, establish, manage, and grow a business. Careers in the military can also be the right path for the right person. Many of these pathways, and others, may include experience through travel, self-paced and free online courses, working your way up in an organization, and more. Career exploration platform Virtual Career Center (VCC) , designed specifically for students and those reevaluating their career paths, takes a staged approach to guiding students through self-discovery, pathway exploration, and employment preparation. VCC assesses and capitalizes on users’ skills, interests, and goals to thoughtfully point young learners to potential job options and the education and training needed for successful job placement. Ideally, the system will also create a stream of talent supplying the most in-demand occupations. Know Yourself By constructing an educational roadmap to complement individualized learning and/or career plans, VCC creates a conduit for young learners to discover and connect to lifelong, interest-driven careers that do not sacrifice a living wage for an individual’s passion. Career assessment results help students better understand their strengths and align viable career paths centered on their interests, goals, values, and skills. Once assessment results are received, VCC introduces detailed information on best-match occupations. The system’s integrated labor market information allows users to easily identify the quality pathways that prepare learners for high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand jobs. Know Your Options As users drill down into the careers and occupations they want to pursue, VCC maps the occupation to postsecondary certificate and degree programs, essentially tracing the path to the starting line for the user. It also maps related occupational codes to military occupational codes to easily transition between military and civilian opportunities. Typically, some kind of postsecondary education or certification will be a critical step in working towards employment or, perhaps, towards an advanced degree. At this stage, users are able to clearly see the routes open to them through multiple career pathways. As they refine the occupations they would like to pursue, it is posible to sort and filter their results by the amount of training or education necessary to break into a specific field. Users can explore postsecondary programs throughout their state, and locate the right program to upskill, earn credentials, and ready themselves for the occupations with which they most identify. These results will include trade schools, certification courses, or other, non-traditional options for career learning – to explore all viable options to obtain experience and knowledge. Know the World of Work With an ability to capture and reflect upon the essential employability skills developed while building a strong, positive work history, VCC provides a way for users to find specific work-based learning opportunities. Users can identify and pursue opportunities in entrepreneurship, apprenticeship , internship, volunteering, and more. In addition to the experiential learning opportunities, VCC connects users to the working world by providing real-world labor market information. Users can adjust expectations based on current salary ranges and projected growth for intriguing careers and occupations. Users are given the necessary information to align their possible career with their income needs. Know Your Starting Point Whatever career path is pursued by the user, the goal is to find the way to a fulfilling and sustaining career. VCC provides users with intelligent tools to conduct manual or automated job searches, compose cover letters to employers, build résumés, practice interview skills, research employer/company information, and review job market trends based on real-time labor market information. According to recent research, the average American will have 12 jobs across the course of their career. It would appear to be more important than ever to choose a career that not only satisfies individual passions, but also develops transferable skills. Any individuals curious about non-traditional career pathways should explore the resources and tools available in VCC and discover for themselves the best path to their future.