Office of Science Education Office of Science Education LifeWorks Icons
OSE Home > LifeWorks > About LifeWorks
LifeWorks Icons

About LifeWorks


What is the purpose of this site?

LifeWorks® is an interactive career exploration web site for middle and high school students. Users can browse for information on more than 100 medical science and health careers by title, education required, interest area, or median salary. Alternatively, the "Career Finder" can be used to generate a customized list of careers especially suited for users' skills and interests. LifeWorks® promotes awareness of the wide variety of occupations in health and medical sciences and the range of opportunities at different education levels. The site complements its factual career data by highlighting true stories of successful people. They illustrate the variety of real-life career pathways, from the carefully planned to the unpredictable.

Top of Page

Who was this site designed for?

LifeWorks® is designed for middle and high school students and those helping them make decisions about their future, such as guidance counselors, science teachers, mentors, and parents.

Top of Page

What is on this site?

At LifeWorks® students can:
  • Read about real people who have achieved success in their careers
  • Find careers that match their personal interests, skills and abilities
  • Browse careers by salary, education required, interests, and job title
  • Learn about working conditions, certification and licensing requirements, and job market trends
  • Discover the types of high school and postsecondary courses they should consider for specific career paths
  • Find links to professional organizations

Top of Page

Why is the National Institutes of Health providing this resource?

One of the leading occupational choices for both male and females is health care. This fact is encouraging because nine of 20 occupations projected to grow the fastest over the next ten years are concentrated in this area (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2002, 2003; Thompson & Chao, 2003). However, despite their interest in health and medical science careers, students who choose this field more often than not state that they plan to be doctors and few can name other kinds of medical careers (CIEWD, 2002). In response to this finding, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Science Education (OSE) provides the LifeWorks® Web site as a tool for students to help raise their awareness about the broad range of health and medical science career pathways that are available to them and to help them make career decisions.

Career selection is a process influenced by a person's background, interests, goals, personal qualities, motivation, and environment (Farmer, 1987). Unfortunately, most students pursue career choices without access to reliable information about the variety and outlook of occupational opportunities (CIEWD, 2002). As a result, many high school students’ critical decisions about their career paths are uninformed and misdirected. More active and thorough career guidance is often stated as the solution to more successful post-secondary planning (Fouad, 1995).

Because parents provide the primary influences in high school students’ career decisions, exploration of career alternatives generally tends to be restricted within the boundaries imposed by socioeconomic status, parents' educational and occupational attainment, cultural background, and the limited experiences of students’ families and friends (CIEWD, 2002; Hall, Kelly, Hansen, & Gutwein, 1996; Kerka, 2000). However, regardless of the home environments and contexts that influence their perceptions, parents are virtually unanimous in their beliefs that a college education is a necessary requisite for career success (Brown, 2003). Few parents are fully aware that increases in the percent of high-paying occupations that do not require a college degree are as great as the increases for those that do (Bureau of Labor, 2002, 2003).

Most teenagers receive little or no career guidance outside the home to clarify their career plans and decisions (Fouad, 1995). While many schools have excellent guidance departments, more than half of high school graduates report that they had no career guidance in high school (CIEWD, 2002). Even when high school students do have access to career counseling, guidance counselors with typical caseloads of 400 students or more seldom have the time or resources to provide the kind of one-on-one help that most students need to choose the right career path. When guidance counselors offer postsecondary guidance, many focus only on application and admission to college (Cohen & Besharow, 2002).

Given these influences it is not surprising that 94 percent of students, regardless of gender or racial-ethnic status, plan to pursue post-secondary education after high school. As many as 80 percent enroll in four-year colleges or universities (CIEWD, 2002, Trei, 2003). However, over half of the students admitted to college drop out and many take up to 10 years to complete requirements for a bachelor’s degree (Astin, Tsui, & Avalos, 1996; National Library of Education, 1999; Smith et al., 1996; Stanfield, 1997). While a decision to attend college is the right choice for many students, many other young people go to college simply because they don't know what else to do (Brown, 2003; Cohen and Besharow 2002; Trei, 2003).

Parents, guidance counselors, and students need access to high quality information about a full range of post-secondary career pathways. In particular, students need access to the career guidance and mentoring necessary to empower them to pursue viable alternatives to the traditional four-year college career path. One versatile and cost-effective solution is to develop interactive web sites with online tools to: (1) help users assess their interests, skills, aptitudes, and job expectations; (2) match students’ personal characteristics with compatible careers; and (3) provide detailed occupational information such as the nature of the work, working conditions, occupational outlook, education and training requirements, earnings, related occupations, and common career ladders (Harris-Bowlsbey 1992; Imel, 1996; Tice & Gill, 1991).

Top of Page

Who manages this site?

LifeWorks® is managed by the Office of Science Education (OSE). OSE is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Top of Page

Who do I contact if I have questions about this site?

Questions and comments about the LifeWorks® Web site should be sent to:

Top of Page

What are others saying about the LifeWorks® Web site?

Top of Page

Does LifeWorks® have a linking policy?

LifeWorks® uses the following guidelines for linking to non-NIH sites:
  • Not-for-profit professional associations and organizations that complement and enhance the information on the LifeWorks® Web site, and
  • U.S. Federal agencies that complement and enhance the information on the LifeWorks® Web site
These criteria may change to reflect updated OSE or NIH Web site policies.

Top of Page

What is LifeWorks® privacy policy?

The NIH Office of Science Education respects the privacy of visitors to the LifeWorks® Web site. We may collect a limited amount of information on usage of the Web site for statistical purposes, in order to measure the number of visitors to the various sections of our site and to help us make our site more useful to visitors. The information collected includes standard server log information, such as the domain name or IP address from which you access the Internet, the date and time you access our site, the pages you viewed, the type of browser and operating system you used to access our site, and, if you linked to our site from another Web site, that Web site's address. We collect this information on an aggregate basis only. Our Web site logs are not personally identifiable, and we make no attempt to link them with the individuals who actually browse the site. For example, we track which pages are most popular among visitors as a whole, but pages viewed are not identified with individual users. With email inquiries, we store the inquiry and the email address information so that we can respond electronically.

Unless otherwise required by statute, we do not identify publicly who sends questions or comments to our Web site. We will not obtain information that will allow us to personally identify you when you visit our site, unless you choose to provide such information to us.

Top of Page

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2002). Charting the projections: 2000-10. Occupational Outlook Quarterly U.S. Department of Labor: Washington, DC.
  • Career Institute for Education and Workforce Development (CIEWD). (2002). Decisions without direction: Career guidance and decision-making among American youth. Comprehensive Report and Data Summary. Ferris State University:
  • Farmer, H. S. (1987). A multivariate model for explaining gender differences in career and achievement motivation. Educational Researcher, 16, 5-9.
  • Fouad, N. A. (1995). Career linking: An intervention to promote math and science career awareness. Journal of Counseling and Development, 73, 527-534.
  • Hall, A. S., Kelly, K. R., Hansen, K., & Gutwein, A. K. (1996). Sources of Self-Perceptions of Career-Related Abilities. Journal of Career Assessment, 4(3), 331-343.
  • Kerka, S. (2000). Parenting and career development. ERIC Digest No. 214. Washington, DC: ERIC/ACVE Publications.
  • Brown, B. L. (2003). The image of career and technical education. Practice Application Brief No. 25.
  • Cohen, M., & Besharow, D. J. (2002). The role of career and technical education: Implications for the federal government. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
  • Trei, L. (2003). Getting in is not the hardest part: Students ill-prepared for college, study finds. Stanford Report. Stanford University.
  • Astin, A.W., Tsui, L., and Avalos, J. (1996). Degree attainment rates at American colleges and universities. Los Angeles, CA: University of California, Los Angeles, Graduate School of Education, Higher Education Research Institute.
  • National Library of Education. (1999.) College for all? Is there too much emphasis on getting a 4-year college degree? Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
  • Smith, T.M., Young B.A., Bae, Y., Choy, S.P., & Alsalam, N. (1997). The condition of education 1997. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
  • Stanfield, R.L. (1997). Overselling college. The National Journal, 653­656.
  • Harris-Bowlsbey, J. (1992). Systematic career guidance and computer-based systems. In Adult Career Development: Concepts and Practices. 2nd Ed., H. D. Lea and Z. B. Leibowitz, Eds. Alexandria, VA: National Career Development Association.
  • Imel, S. (1996). Computer-based career information systems. ERIC Digest No. 170. Washington, DC: ERIC/ACVE Publications.
  • Tice, K. E., & Gill, S. J. (1991). Education information centers: An evaluation. Journal of Career Development, 18(1), 37-50.

Top of Page
Office of Science Education skip navigation
Contact Us   |   FOIA
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services   |   National Institutes of Health   | - Government made easy

Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives • National Institutes of Health • Bethesda, Maryland 20892

NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®