TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Thousands of 8th grade students across the state are getting a jump-start on their career path.
The first-ever "Worlds of Work" Career Expo is underway in Tuscaloosa.
"There you go, keep on, get a little bit closer," an employee with Fayette Fabrication showed an 8th grade student how to spray paint a label on a piece of metal.
From fabrication, to public safety, to construction, 4,000 middle school students are getting the chance to experience more than 100 career options.
"Our industry is really competitive. This day and age, kids that might not want to go to college, they can get a great career in the construction industry. The wage rates are high.These kids don't understand that some of these carpenters, these electricians, can make as much as college graduates coming out of school so that's kind of what we're trying to highlight to them. It's an industry that's in full need of employees right now," said Tim Harrison, the President of Harrison Construction.
Students are getting the chance to work hands-on in a variety of fields, like medical.
"It gives them the opportunity to actually see what its like, to see what the nurses and the technicians are doing during surgery, assisting the surgeons and what its like to do that," said Thomas Brownlee, the Operating Room Manager at DCH Regional Medical Center.
Greensboro Middle School student, Phillip Constant, got the chance to deliver a baby.
"It was kind of difficult because I never did it before and it was a great exposure for me. I'm learning that the medical field is a lot more interesting than I thought and this program gives us great exposure of the choices that we'll be making on our career," said Constant.
Organizers told ABC 33/40, the earlier children get this experience, the better.
"We feel like you can never start too early with kids and talking about careers but because the state has mandated a career exploration class in 9th grade, we wanted to do this ahead of time so they could start thinking and taking that class a little more seriously when they decide what they want to do with their life," said Jim Page, President of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.
43 schools and 110 businesses are taking part in the two day expo.