How to Choose a Career
Gone are the days when people worked in the same career their entire adult lives. Now, most people switch careers a few times, but choosing a career is still an incredibly important decision especially if it is the first time you are joining the workforce. The right career can set you up for a brilliant future where you can take care of yourself and your family. Because we spend so much of our time working, finding a career that we are passionate about and that pays well is also vitally important.
In this article, you will learn how to choose a career that gives you everything you want. We will go over what your interests are, what skills you have, what goals you want to achieve, how to choose a career path, and how to make the final decision.
Think About Yourself
You have to know what you are interested in and what skills you have to know how to make a wise career choice. Your interests reveal your passions and will guide you to careers that you may truly be interested in. Your skills will determine which careers are accessible to you or what kind of training you need to do before attempting to start the career of your dreams.
A good way to figure out what you are interested in is by thinking about your passions and hobbies. In today's world, there are thousands of careers and you should try to find one that matches the activities you enjoy doing. For example, if you enjoy playing video games you can look into a career in programming, visual effects, business development, quality assurance, graphic design, psychology, and even creative writing. Think of it this way, if you had unlimited money what would you do with your time? This is your dream situation, and if you can find a career that matches or comes close to matching your answer then chances are you will be happy in the future.
Another way to assess your interests is by thinking about what subjects you enjoyed in school. The subjects you enjoyed can give you insight into which careers you may be interested in. But be careful, sometimes you may have liked a class because of an exceptionally good teacher or because you had friends in it. Only pursue a career related to a class you enjoyed in school if you are completely sure that you were passionate about the subject matter.
Assessing your skills means making a list of all the things you can do. This doesn't necessarily have to be educational qualifications but can be things like soft skills and practical skills. For example, if you are good with your hands then you may have a potential future career in carpentry. If you enjoy speaking with people you may have a future career in sales.
There are many free online assessment tests that can help you determine what careers suit you based on your skills and personality. Career tests ask you various questions to help determine possible future careers and give you a list of potential careers to choose from.
Explore Career Ideas
Now that you have assessed your interests and your skills you can move on to exploring different career paths. You may already have an idea of careers that fit with what you enjoy doing and what you can do. And the online assessment tests will give you a list of careers they recommend. Go over these lists to see if there is any overlap, if multiple tests recommend a certain career, it is usually a good indicator that it is at least worth looking into.
Don't limit yourself at this stage of the career search. This is brainstorming time, so be as creative as you can and search far and wide for careers that you may enjoy. Spend some time researching those careers and add them to a list. You should end up with at least 15 different potential careers during this step.
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Build a List of Careers
This is when you work through your master list of possible careers. Research every single one to see whether it gives you the basic things that you want. For example, maybe a career sounds interesting but the average salary for someone in that career is much lower than what you want to make. Some careers may sound interesting but might have certain requirements that turn you off. For example, criminal forensics might be interesting but it requires education in chemistry.
Knowing what you're interested in is important to find a career you are passionate about. Assessing your skills is important to find a career you can actually do or to figure out what kind of training you require. Knowing your goals is important because it will give you the ambition and motivation to achieve success in the career that you choose. If money is one of your more important goals then working in a nonprofit organization might not be the right career choice for you. Ask yourself the following questions to determine what is important to you.
- What is the minimum amount of money I want to be making in a year?
- How much money do I want to be making?
- Am I driven by a thirst for knowledge?
- Do I want to explore the world and have interesting experiences?
- Do I want to help people?
- Do I want to work in an office?
- What kind of organization do I want to work with?
You are almost at the end of the how to make a career choice process! After two rounds of identifying potential careers, it is finally time to make a shortlist. This means identifying 2 to 5 potential careers in order of preference. It's good to have several options because there is no such thing as just one potential perfect career and it is always good to have backups in case something ever goes wrong.
Go over the list of potential careers you have previously developed and do as much research as possible. Here are a few ways to research potential careers.
- Do an intensive internet search for what is required from that career
- Visit company websites and look at what kind of job progression you might have
- Look at job postings to see what requirements exist
- Talk to people in the industry to get a first-hand account of what it's like to have a job in that career
- Speak to guidance counselors
This is one of the final steps in choosing a potential career so when conducting thorough research ask yourself these questions.
- Are there any requirements or expectations that I absolutely do not want to do?
- What is the potential for future growth?
- How much further training or education will I need to achieve success in this career?
- What are the pros and cons of this career option?
- What are the entry requirements?
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Now that you understand what you want, what you have to offer, have done research on several potential careers, identified your goals, and have a shortlist, it is time to make decisions. All the information you have gathered should help you answer how to make a career choice. Finding a match between a career that you feel passionate about, pays well, has good future prospects, and helps you fulfill your goals is not easy but it isn't impossible. Before making your final decision, go over this checklist.
- Do you have a genuine interest in the career?
- Do you have the skills to be successful in your career?
- What further training or education do you need to be successful in your career?
- What is your current financial situation, and how will you finance your training and education?
- Does the career take advantage of your natural skills and talents?
- Do the career and job requirements match your personality?
- Does the career match your morals and values?
- Are there enough jobs in the career field?
- What are the short-term and long-term financial benefits of this career?
- Will you enjoy working every day in this career?
Most importantly, be honest with yourself about your priorities. Many people think that money will make them happy, but research has shown that passion and job satisfaction are much more important factors in happiness than money.
You should now know how to choose a career after high school, how to choose a career path in college, or how to choose a career in general. It's not an easy decision to make and is literally life-changing. Hopefully, this article has given you some insight on how to think about making this decision as well as given you some concrete steps to follow and research tips.
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