Choosing the right career path can be formidable at any age. Whether you are a recent high school graduate or looking to change careers, making a decision usually requires a financial commitment and leap of faith. With so much at stake, you want to make sure your decision is well thought out. Your job should fit well with your interests, aptitudes, values and personality. There is nothing worse than resenting your livelihood.
Be honest with yourself. Getting to know yourself can be daunting. It is important that you know your interests. This shouldn’t be influenced by your parents or your friends. They will not have to be the ones that show up at the office each morning. They are not the ones that will be etching out a living with the money earned. Take some time to do a self-assessment. There are many online resources. If you are a high schooler, seek out help from a counselor. There are many career counselors or career development facilitators available for a fee for those out of high school.
There are many tools available to assess your interests and skills, work values, personality and aptitude.
- Interest inventories are often used in career planning. It is a tool used to pair interests with various occupations. It uses a series of questions to determine an individual’s likes and dislikes.
- Value assessments are possibly the most important when choosing an occupation. There are two types of values: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic values that a job has in its own right. Extrinsic values include all others values not intrinsic.
- There are also personality inventories. Tests based on the Jungian Personality Theory are the most popular. The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator is just such a one that has gained popularity over the years.
- Aptitude is a natural or acquired ability. You want to choose a field that you not only enjoy but are good at. You should also consider the time required to acquire new or advanced skills in a field.
Once you know yourself a little better, you will have an idea of the types of careers that would suit your personality and skills. If you use an online self-assessment program or work with a counselor, you probably have a list of potentially suitable career paths. Now it is time to do some research. Read descriptions of the occupations and learn about the job duties associated. Reduce your list down to a couple of jobs you have a strong interest in pursuing.
Now that you have whittled your list down, consider the training and education required. What kind of salary is associated with jobs in each field? What kind of time and financial commitment is involved in learning new skill sets? These are important questions to ask. A dream job is less dreamy if it doesn’t allow you to pay your bills. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (B.L.S.) is a great resource.
Internet-based learning has come a long way in recent years. It is possible to earn a degree from the comfort of your home. This comes with its own set of pros and cons. Having a flexible schedule allows you the opportunity to work while earning your degree, offsetting some of the costs of an education. Nevertheless, there are many distractions at home.
Technical occupations lend themselves to online learning more than other majors. Degrees in nursing, cyber security, IT and technology are all great fields to pursue through online programs. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have gained popularity and recognition. Many colleges and universities allow students to apply credits from MOOCs towards their degree. This can greatly reduce the cost of higher education.
Some MOOCs provide education on par with accredited courses at leading universities. The downside is they fail to provide validation to the education they provide. By combining free MOOCs with an online degree program through an accredited university, students get the best of both worlds. They can use MOOCs to gain knowledge in courses they would otherwise have to pay for and limit the cost of their overall education. This practice makes higher education available to more people and helps students stay out of debt.
Choosing a career is never easy. Earning a living shouldn’t require you going into a job you hate. Take the time to understand yourself, your interests and your values. Apply what you discover to job research and career planning. Look into resources like online learning and MOOCs to find the right program that works for you.