Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are popular in career counseling and education. Young adults and teenagers are encouraged to pursue STEM-focused fields of study in the hope of finding jobs in these well-paying, high-demand fields. With this in mind, it’s interesting to look back through Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publications and see how much things have changed in only a few decades.
In 1979, the BLS published a series of 15 workbooks for junior high school students intended to help them explore career paths. As the preface to the first workbook explains, “Exploring Careers emphasizes what people do on the job and how they feel about it and stresses the importance of ‘knowing yourself’ when considering a career.”
These workbooks provide a snapshot not only of the fashions and culture of the late 1970s, but also provide a historical insight into how the working world has changed over the past 30 years.
Changes in professions are expected due to technological and social changes, but it is hard to see why a guidance counselor would encourage a student to strive to become a “Street Musician” like Bob (in Performing Arts, Design, and Communications Occupations). Other highlights include mentions of the “quite new” professions of legal assistants/paralegals and computer programmers who “rarely” touch a computer (both in Office Occupations); gas station attendants and newspaper vendors (in Sales Occupations); bowling-pin-machine mechanics (in Mechanics and Repairers); as well as more modern professions, such as physical therapists (in Health Occupations) still found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, now published online by the BLS.
 United States. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Exploring Careers: The World of Work and You: Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, No. 2001-1,” p. iii, in Exploring Careers (1979).