What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing a Career?

Some people spend their entire lives asking themselves what they want to be when they grow up. Other people know from childhood and by following an interior compass, they end up in a career that never feels like going to work. If you're somewhere in the middle, you might consider several factors that may help you make a choice that's right for you. Read on to discover some road signs that can help you choose a career.

What Interests You?

If you love archaeology but you feel more at home with the number-crunching work of an accountant, you don't have to rule out your first love. Museums, schools and historical foundations need accountants, too. Perhaps you enjoy caring for animals, but the idea of becoming a veterinarian is not right for you. You don't have to be a veterinarian to work in one of the many occupations that keep a zoo running, for example. Check out job boards related to your interests, and you may find some alternative points of entry that work for you.

Your interests may be broader. If, for example, you enjoy science but aren't sure what you want to do, many universities have websites you can browse, and they include program descriptions that give you an idea of where different majors can lead. You can also find career placement and assessment tools online that help you find varieties of jobs within your interest field.

What Are Your Priorities?

Do you have the time and money to spend on an education, or are you determined to begin a career as soon as possible? Are you more interested in finding a career that becomes a lifelong passion, or would you rather make a ton of money quickly and retire early? You can find out how much education is needed for different types of careers by reading through the occupational outlook pages on the website for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). For example, you might find that you can earn high wages as a doctor, but you'll have to go through 7-8 years of school and complete a residency before you start bringing home paychecks.

Are You a Pioneer?

Because technology is advancing so rapidly, you may find yourself hearing job titles tossed around that didn't even exist ten years ago. Engineering and medicine are joining forces to create new diagnostic tools. The film industry is embracing computer graphics. You can discover emerging careers by reading articles from U.S. News and World Report and industry-relevant publications.

How You Can Combine Dreams and Reality

No goal is too distant if you're armed with a roadmap. Once you have an idea about what type of career moves you, examine what you'll need to do in order to get through the door. Starting at the end and working your way back by reading job postings, explore possible answers to these questions:

  • What are employers looking for regarding education and experience?
  • What do entry-level jobs ask for in these positions?
  • What are common admission requirements for degree programs in the field?
  • What kinds of scholarship programs are available?

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