Career Ideas for School Leavers After Exams

find career ideas for school leavers

When you leave school, whether you’re aged 16+ or 18+, you’re looking at a range of choices. You are probably wondering what comes next after GCSEs, or what to do after A-levels.

You might be exploring further education, like a degree. You might also want to find a job. But where to start? It really helps to have an idea of what careers you might be good at and enjoy.

Research jobs and areas of work

Take some time to research the different types of jobs out there. Build a bigger picture of the careers you could do.

If you have careers you’re interested in (like journalist, beauty therapist or sales manager),  find out more about them. You might also be interested in areas of work like marketing careers or digital careers. If so, you can find out more about the different jobs you could do in those areas.

Visit our careers hub to find lots of great jobs to explore, all sorted into different sectors (or job families). For each job you’ll see useful skills you’ll need, along with qualifications, average UK pay rates, job descriptions and how to get started after school. It’s a great way to start thinking about different jobs – because everyone has more than one dream job inside them.

Take a career personality test

Career personality tests are also known as career aptitude tests or self-assessment tests. It doesn’t matter what they’re called, though. They ask you easy questions to figure out your likes and dislikes, then bring up a handy list of career ideas that match your interests.

We have a whole list of free online career tests you can take. Make a note of your personality type and put all the career ideas into a list – yes, even the surprise ones! You can then research them on our careers hub to see if they’re a good fit for you.

Take a career personality test!

Head to our Careers hub for more inspiration.

Add work experience and volunteering to your CV

Maybe you’ve never had a job before, but everyone has to start somewhere. Volunteering and work experience are reat ways to find out more about a job from the inside, and find out if you’d like doing it. They’re also something you can put on your CV. If you haven’t written a CV before, check out our tips on how to write a great CV.

Volunteering ideas:

Vinspired has lots of local volunteering opportunities for 14-24 year olds. Take a look and see what you find.

You can explore international volunteering to broaden your world’s horizons as well as your mind.

You can also volunteer with Youth Employment UK. Join our team and you’ll be joining a network of hundreds of volunteers all over the country. We always make sure you have exciting activities to do, like going to Parliament or having your say on important youth employment matters. We can help you explore your career interests too.

Head to our Volunteering & Work Experience hub for more inspiration.


Are apprenticeships worth it? The answer is a big YES.

You can get an apprenticeship for almost any career you can think of. You can find out a lot more about apprenticeships in our full guide to apprenticeships.

If you have an idea of what work area you’re interested in (like finance or technology or journalism, say) then employers all over the UK are offering apprenticeships in that work area. You’ll study towards a qualification while you build real work experience and earn a salary. Apprenticeships also sometimes give you the chance to try taster sessions in different departments, so you can see which part of the business you’d most enjoy working in.

EXAMPLE: Financial services employer EY is offering business apprenticeships and even degree apprenticeships in digital innovation. A degree apprenticeship is your chance to get paid a salary while you study towards a degree – for free.

If you need to do a bit more training before you can apply for an apprenticeship, a traineeship can be a great option for you.

Head to our Apprenticeships hub for more inspiration.

Get free Young Professional training

Aged 14-24? Become a Young Professional with Youth Employment UK to build up the five most important life and work skills you could ever have. The training is free, it only takes a few minutes to get started and looks great on your CV.

Need more careers help?

See our tips on how to choose a career in 4 steps if you have no idea what to do.

You can also explore our life choices hub with advice on:

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For more information, please email or call 01536 513388.

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