This is a guest post by Michael Davis, a career counsellor at ResumeSamples.net. I particularly like the first tip. It’s often overlooked and a huge factor in your career path.
Deciding on a career path is a major life decision. It will affect what you choose to study in college, it will determine your educational goals, and it will likely affect your lifetime income potential. It can also have an impact on your overall life satisfaction.
The most common advice is to do something you love, but there are a few questions you can ask that will help you decide whether that thing you love is better as a career or a hobby. Asking the following questions about a potential job will get you on the path to making a smart decision about which career to pick.
1. Are there opportunities for growth?
This relates to both the company—such as career paths and the ability to move up—and the industry. The person who starts their career in a dying or slowing industry such as newspapers will have much less opportunity than someone who starts their career in a high growth or stable industry.
Some jobs offer lots of opportunities for growth. Certain ones will even pay for the training involved in climbing the corporate ladder. Others don’t offer any room for growth. Knowing whether you can expect promotions during the course of your career can sometimes be a deciding factor when looking at various career options. Jobs that offer no opportunities for increased pay or job promotions can make awesome careers. They can also be frustrating since they don’t come with built-in raises or progressing levels of responsibility.
2. How much stress is involved?
Certain career paths involve lots of stress. If you are someone who works well under pressure, one of these jobs might be a perfect fit for you. If you are the type who can’t handle stress, you probably need to avoid jobs that come with high amounts of it. For some people, a job with high amounts of stress can negatively affect their overall quality of life. If you’re one of those people, you really don’t want to be an air traffic controller.
3. Is there lots of competition?
Competition isn’t a bad thing. It’s often what motivates people to do their best. A healthy sense of competitiveness can drive a person to reach their goals. However, a high amount of competition in a field that has a very limited number of jobs could be a good reason not to pursue a job in that field. You don’t want to become one of the thousands of unemployed history majors.
4. Do people in this field experience high levels of job satisfaction?
Certain jobs come with low rates of job satisfaction. Investment bankers, for example, tend to score low in this area. They are compensated very well, though. Having this kind of information can help you decide whether you would rather work in a field with high levels of job satisfaction for lower pay. For some people, high pay is the bottom line, and a job they hate is preferred over one that doesn’t involve making lots of money.
5. What does the median income look like?
Are you the type of person who won’t be happy unless you drive an expensive car and wear only designer clothes? If so, money may need to be your deciding factor. While you may have a passion for the arts, the life of a starving artist or even the life of an art teacher may be completely wrong for you. On the other hand, if you’re a low-maintenance individual who would be content with less if it meant doing what you love, go ahead and consider that career as an artist. Just be sure you wouldn’t mind a career in teaching if it came to that.
Looking at job comparisons for different potential careers can help make your decision easier. If you can find out how many people currently work in a field, how much competition you’ll be facing, how much stress to expect, what job satisfaction looks like, and what the median salary is for the various occupations on your list of potential options, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the career path that’s right for you.