The professional decisions you make throughout your life can determine your level of education, income potential, financial security, work–life balance, and career satisfaction.
Rather than rushing into a choice that will shape your whole future, you must research a role, its requirements, and potential paths to progression.
Pick the perfect occupation for you by finding out how to make an informed career decision.
Perform a Detailed Self-Assessment
Before you start applying for vacancies or enroll in a program, you must perform a detailed self-assessment.
Consider your values, interests, and personality traits, as they will determine your satisfaction in a role and the transferable skills you can bring.
For example, most employers are looking for employees who possess exceptional communication skills.
Yet, good communication is more essential in some fields than others, such as healthcare, transport and logistics, and marketing.
It is crucial the career you choose taps into your values, as this can determine your daily job satisfaction.
If you want to make a difference to individuals or an organization, you could experience many rewards in a medical role, such as a nurse, physician, or counselor.
While a self-assessment will not help you choose a role, it can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses to find the right occupation for you.
Consider if a University or College Education is Right for You
As different roles will have different academic requirements, you must consider if you want to pursue a university or college education or secure a full-time role.
If you decide to enroll in a degree program, there are various factors to consider, such as whether to become a part-time or full-time student, whether to study online or at a campus, and which major and institution are right for you.
Research the Route to Success
Next, you’ll need to consider the route to professional success. For example, if you would like to become a qualified nurse practitioner, you will first need to train as a registered nurse.
Then you’ll need to complete a Master of Science in Nursing and pass one of two licensure exams.
However, you must learn about each exam, as the tests are rather different from each other despite providing the same outcome.
For this reason, you should check out this information guide to AANP vs ANCC to make an informed choice when training to become a nurse practitioner.
Research is key for not only picking the right career but for making informed academic choices, as they will determine your exam success, stress levels, and career skills.
Review the Job Market
Before you set your heart on a career, you must review the existing and future job market.
As business needs can change, consumer demand may shift, and innovative technologies will emerge, meaning that once-popular jobs can experience a drop in demand and new roles may arise.
Decide on a role by browsing the local job market to ensure you can take your pick of vacancies.
If you can’t find much demand for your desired career on various employment websites, or an occupation isn’t projected to increase in demand, it might be wise to return to the drawing board.
Look for careers that are expected to increase in demand in the next ten years, such as:
- Registered nurses
- Construction workers
- Web developers
- Physical therapists
- Home health aides
- Truck drivers
Remember, the more in-demand an occupation, the more job security you can enjoy throughout your career and the bigger your income potential.
Learn About a Career’s Work–Life Balance
Every career will have pros and cons, which you must consider in order to enter a role with a realistic mindset.
For example, if you’re not work-shy, can handle long hours, and would flourish in a fast-paced, busy environment, a nursing career is a wise option.
However, if you want to work shorter shifts and enjoy a less demanding working life, you might prefer a more relaxed career, such as a gardener, massage therapist, or diagnostic medical sonographer.
Again, a self-assessment can help you compare a career against your interests and personality traits.
Gain Experience in a Field
If you’re unsure whether to commit to a degree program or apply for a full-time vacancy, aim to gain experience in your desired field.
For example, you could apply for a part-time job, an internship, or a voluntary opportunity at an organization.
Many companies are more than happy to provide budding professionals with industry experience, as it can help them identify talent early and complete many tasks on their to-do lists.
The experience could convince you to pursue an occupation, or equally it could prevent a big career mistake.
Consider the Daily Duties
It is a smart move to consider the types of duties you will be required to perform each day, as they can determine your satisfaction in a role.
You must factor in the following aspects of a job:
- Level of autonomy
- Learning opportunities
- Leadership requirements
- Creativity opportunities
- Health and safety requirements
It is important to consider the above factors before working your way towards a career.
For example, if you struggle with authority, you would be wise to secure a career that requires little or no supervision, such as a building inspector, accountant, information security analyst, psychologist, or entrepreneur.
Identify Your Financial Goals
While money isn’t everything, it can determine the house you buy, the car you drive, the number of annual vacations you enjoy, and your retirement comfort.
If you don’t want to worry about bills throughout your life, you must find a career that matches your financial goals, as well as your personality and values.
In addition to reviewing a career’s economic security, you must factor in the following:
- Average annual salary
- Promotional paths
Establish Career Milestones
The career you choose can determine your professional achievements. If you’re an ambitious, hardworking employee who likes a challenge, pick a career avenue that offers many paths to success and promotional opportunities.
It will ensure you never feel bored in an industry and you’ll enjoy many achievements throughout your career.
The more promotional opportunities available, the more you can grow your annual salary potential and industry respect while improving your job security and satisfaction.
Research your desired role to identify the different paths to choose from, and then establish career milestones to help you climb the ladder.
For example, if want to become a senior nursing leader, you could set goals for becoming a registered nurse, completing advanced degree programs, and then entering a role as a nurse practitioner.
Choose the Right Organization
Choosing the right occupation is only half the battle when it comes to career satisfaction, as your workplace can determine your daily satisfaction.
Once you have gained the skills and experience needed to thrive in a position, you must research an organization to avoid making a decision you will live to regret.
Before applying for a vacancy, consider the type of company you would like to work for: its size, values, and culture.
Next, perform research by reading online reviews from past and present employees on the likes of Glassdoor, Indeed, and Kununu.
Also, consider a company’s integrity, environmental beliefs, employee requirements, and perks to ensure you feel proud to work for the brand.
If they have a bad reputation, a poor company culture, or terrible leadership styles, cut your losses and focus on securing a position at a more rewarding organization.
For this reason, you must ask questions about the company culture, daily duties, employee expectations, and benefits available during an interview in order to make an informed choice.
While securing another position might take a little longer, the sacrifice will likely be worth it in the long run.
Take the Leap of Faith
Choosing a career requires a leap of faith. While research and experience can help you make an informed choice, there is no guarantee you will love an occupation in 1 or 20 years’ time.
After comparing a career against your values, work–life balance desires, and financial goals, you can then decide whether to pursue the occupation or find a role that’s a better match for your personality.
If you believe it is the right option for your needs, take the plunge by enrolling in a course, applying for a vacancy, or submitting an internship request.
If it doesn’t work out, you’ll still have developed many transferable skills and experience that could stand you in good stead in another career.
Don’t fear entering the unknown. Research the pros and cons of an occupation and work hard to make the career a reality.
If it doesn’t work out, you can always switch careers, and it will make you a stronger, more confident employee in the long run.
Choosing a career might not feel easy, especially as you have thousands of possible avenues.
However, there is a career out there that’s perfect for your personality, work ethic, and goals— but it’s up to you to find it.
To do so, you will need to perform a self-assessment, gain industry experience, research the route to success, and consider if a degree is the right option for your needs.