Alternative Career Pathways

This project developed a resource that can identify occupations that are relatively similar to the original occupation of a displaced worker.

The research team created 7 career pathway clusters based on the similarities and differences of worker and job characteristics and the degree to which worker traits such as "highly social" or "attentive to detail" make occupations more or less similar. Job transitions within a given cluster are generally easier than moving between clusters.

1. Information and Investigation (62 occupations)

Occupations in this cluster involve collecting and analyzing data and often require knowledge in computers, electronics and mathematics. Workers need elevated capabilities in systems and programming, and they share personal characteristics such as working independently and having a great attention to detail. Workers drawn to these occupations are also personally interested in working with ideas, searching for facts and solving problems.

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2. Health, Social and Personal Services (90 occupations)

This “helping cluster” is defined by assisting and caring for others and sometimes dealing with unpleasant, angry or physically aggressive people. Workers need knowledge in fields such as medicine and dentistry, psychology, and therapy and counseling. They are also characterized by higher levels of social interaction at work and having concern for others and self control. Workers also value building relationships and tend to be drawn to vocations in service.

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3. Production, Construction and Engineering (217 occupations)

This super cluster is dominated by occupations with high scores in six knowledge groups: mechanical; engineering and technology; design; physics; building and construction; and production and processing. Due to its size, it is divided into 3 sub-clusters:

4. Liberal Arts, Education and Human Relations (86 occupations)

Worker knowledge requirements dominate the most important factors for this cluster—particularly knowledge of fine arts, history and archeology, philosophy and theology, sociology and anthropology, and communications and media. Workers in this cluster also tend to have artistic interests. The cluster is dominated by education occupations such as postsecondary art and music teachers, music directors and some social science occupations.

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5. Business, Sales and Administration (105 occupations)

Workers in this cluster require knowledge in one of the following areas: sales and marketing, economics and accounting, administration and management, personnel and human resources, or customer and personal service. Those attracted to occupations in this cluster may have personal interests in handling monetary transactions, starting up and carrying out projects, leading people and making decisions, and often have an appetite for taking risks.

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6. Transportation and Public Services (97 occupations)

Knowledge areas of public safety, transportation, law and travel services were the primary drivers that formed this cluster. Key occupations within this cluster range from aviation inspectors to police detectives and urban and regional planners. The major occupational category of transportation and material moving dominated the cluster, followed closely by law, public safety and security.

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7. Environmental Sciences and Food Service (74 occupations)

This cluster is composed of an extensive array of occupations including scientists in the natural science and environmental disciplines as well as agriculture. This is also the “food cluster” that includes dietitians and food service workers. It may not be intuitively obvious how the occupations in this cluster are comparable, but incumbent workers in these occupations share relatively high scores in biology and chemistry, as well as food production.

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Driving Change is funded by the State Labor Market Information Improvement Program of the U.S. Employment and Training Administration.

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