How to choose a career is not an easy task. I can speak from personal experience, if you are having trouble deciding what to do for your career, I promise that you are not alone.
This can be a very nerve-racking time in your life. Trust me, I went through a career change in my late twenties that was stressful but it worked out really well in the long run. My goal is to use the lessons I learned to help you out.
We will help walk you through some very simple steps that will hopefully point you in the right direction. Even if they don’t, you will at least have some very good questions to ask yourself.
1. Find What You Like
To start answering the question, “How to Choose a Career?” you need to ask yourself a much easier question, “What do you like to do?”
At this point, let’s not worry about other important factors such as income, lifestyle accommodations, or other factors. We will talk about those later. For now, let’s just focus on what you like.
Do you like computers? Do you like animals? How about being outside?
These are all interests, including hundreds of others, that can lead to a promising career. In today’s modern world, just about anything can be a career as well. I am amazed by some of the jobs that are out there such as playing video games full time. Middle school Adam wishes the internet was built for streaming games back when I had the time.
Are you having trouble coming up with ideas? That is okay, not everyone can come up with ideas right away or even know what they like. Trust me, you are not alone. There are many people out there also trying to figure things out. This is normal.
To get your mind jogging, take some career tests to help you out. Here are some tests to get you started.
Just a heads up, some of these tests do cost money. I would start with the free versions first to see what kind of results you get then move to the paid versions. I think of this as part of the investment on how to choose a career.
One last note, take your time to figure out what you like. This is not the time to rush.
2. Consider Important Factors
Once you find what you enjoy in life, it is time to consider various important factors to help you choose a career within that area.
Here you need to think about your current lifestyle and what you are willing to give up or take on. A career should be rewarding to what you need in your life right now. It should also provide opportunities beyond today.
If you need money today, that is okay to make it your priority. There are so many other factors to consider when researching a new career path.
- Consider the growth opportunities a career path can provide.
- Remember life/work balance.
- Are there jobs available?
- What are the education/training opportunities? Are they expensive?
The last bullet brings up a good point. For someone making a career change later in their life, it might not make sense to spend another seven years in school and $100,000 in debt to become a doctor (This could make sense for you but generally it probably won’t). What I am trying to say is you should be aware of the time and cost it will take to get trained in your new career choice.
3. What Career Paths Can You Take?
After deciding what career you want to move into, you should make sure there are different paths you can take once in the area.
One way you can find out is by doing some research on the internet. This is what I did to see what areas of growth there are in the Salesforce area. I watched a lot of videos on YouTube to listen to testimonies from other Salesforce Admins and what paths they took.
Another way to understand career paths is to reach out to existing professionals in the career. With LinkedIn, this is extremely easy to do. Do not be afraid to network with complete strangers. I actually used this method as well when I was looking at getting my Master’s degree in software development. I was nervous but very relieved by how friendly and willing people were to talk about their careers. All I did was a search for people in the career I wanted within the area I lived in.
Lastly, you can do some research on the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics website. Here you can research how many jobs there are in a profession, along with the forecasted growth. You can also find out what the average salaries are and much more.
4. Mistakes to Watch Out For
- Choosing Money First – If you don’t care about anything else, sure prioritizing money first is okay. For most people, this is not the case though. Most people will prioritize family, traveling, work/life balance, benefits, etc over money. A happy balance between money and life is usually the best approach to life.
- Not Growing – Never stop learning. This includes after you get a job. Once you become static, you will lose out on so many opportunities.
- Choosing a Career With Little Growth Opportunities – Be careful to not get pigeonholed. Make sure the skills that you learn in your career do not go to waste. Make sure they can be used somewhere else so you can continue growing and moving up in your new career. This is similar to the career paths we talked about earlier.
- Choosing a Dying Career – Very similar to growth opportunities, be sure that the new field you are moving into is not dying. Most careers that are dying out are because of better technology such as travel agents and photo processors.
Concluding How to Choose a Career
As we already mentioned, choosing a career can be a tough task no matter your stage in life. Young 18-year-olds might not know enough about themselves yet and people in their 50’s might feel lost. This is a normal feeling and there is nothing wrong with this.
This article is intended to help you find the perfect career. Hopefully, something within this article will help you accomplish just that.
If you are not ready for a new career but would like to earn some more money every month, we have a page for you. Hop on over to our Ways to Make Money page to check out the 70 plus ways to make some extra cash.
Wallet Squirrel is a personal finance blog by best friends Andrew & Adam on how money works, building side-hustles, and the benefits of cleverly investing the profits. Featured on MSN Money, AOL Finance, and more!
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