How to Choose a Career Path

Learning how to choose a career path can be an intimidating task and probably the most important decision every person should make. It is not just deciding what you will do for a living. It is deciding what you are passionate about, what will be your contribution to society, and what legacy you want to leave.

If you feel that you don’t have a purpose or sense of direction and want to break out of a career rut, you have come to the right place. We will give you bits of advice on how to choose a career path and help you carefully plan how to get that ideal career for you.

But first, you must understand what a career path is and why you should pave your own.  

What is a career path?

A career path is a sequence of careers that routes you to your career goal before retirement. It is composed of short and long-term goals that will help you progress in your objectives.

Your path may either be through an entire industry or within an organization. It also can be a growth or advancement to a higher career level. Changing careers is expected as you need to move to a different organization, a position, or even jump into a new career type to advance in your goals. According to a 2018 survey, 51 percent of respondents answered that they change jobs every one to five years.

How to choose a career path?

1. Assess yourself

Before starting to develop your career path, you should assess yourself to better understand your skills, personality, interests, and values. 

Skills are learned abilities or expertise to perform an action, which results in effective execution.

Personality is a combination of characteristics, set of behaviors, feelings, and thoughts of an individual. You can check your personality type by using personality test tools like the 16Personalities.

Interests are the activities and hobbies that you engage in. These are the subjects that fascinate you and get your attention and focus. 

Values are the fundamental beliefs of an individual. These are what is important to you and what motivates your behavior. 

Assessing yourself and gathering information about yourself will help you come up with an informed decision. 

Making informed decisions based on your personality, skills, values, and interests allows you to make better career decisions that won’t affect your overall sense of happiness.

2. Make a list of career options and learn each one

With multiple careers out there to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down your career options. You can easily focus your career search once you have identified your skills, personality, interests, and values.

For example, if you are an expert in numbers, organized, a good problem solver, reliable and trustworthy, you should consider becoming an Accountant. Are you a people person, a good listener, love helping people, and think analytically? Then becoming a Psychologist might be the right career for you. 

List down your career options in a master list, and find related careers that appeal to you and explore further. You can refer to career guides or even to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These websites provide detailed career information, which includes salary, required skills, job responsibilities, related careers, and how to become one.

3. Compare job requirements to your current skill set and education

Each job has specific requirements for applicants. Job requirements usually include education, skills and knowledge, and experience. You can obtain the occupation information from your list and learn about the job description and education requirements. 

Make a list of your current skills, experience, and education. You can also ask for feedback on your soft and hard skills from your colleagues, coworkers, or even your boss. 

This evaluation can help narrow down your choices and find the career that best matches you.

4. Consider your expected salary

You may require a certain amount of salary to make a living and support your lifestyle. Salary is still one of the important factors to consider in choosing a career path. Professionals usually don’t know what they’re worth in the marketplace. So how would you determine your worth? You need to do thorough research. 

Find the average salary of the careers on your list. This is a good start to determine how much you can earn if you are just starting, skilled, or experienced in the field. You can also use salary calculators like PayScaleLiveCareer, and

5. Make a tough career decision

With all of the research you have done, you probably already know what career you will pick. Choose a career you think and feel will bring satisfaction and reward. Keep in mind that it is okay to change your mind about your career choice at any point. Changing careers is necessary for personal and professional growth.

6. Set goals

Identifying your short-term and long-term goals is the next step. You need to set goals and objectives to help you stay on the right path towards your success. The goals in your career path consist of short and long-term goals. 

As we have mentioned in our previous article, you should be SMART in setting your short-term and long-term goals. This means that your goals should be:

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Achievable

R = Realistic

T = Time-bound

Goals should be specific and precisely detailed. You can use figures or numbers to determine and measure your goals. When writing goals, they should be achievable and realistic, so they won’t be just a dream because they are within your reach. Lastly, goals should be time-bound, so you have a target date to focus on.

Unconventional career path

There are several career routes you can take, and one of these is the unconventional career path. This career path is an atypical manner in creating a career path. Unlike the traditional career path where the professional follow a straightforward path, professional who takes the unconventional career path usually follow any of these paths:

  • Trying many jobs early in their career.
  • Started working in a conventional or traditional setting and deciding to suddenly jump in a different career.
  • Started pursuing an unconventional career path, e.g., working remotely or as a freelancer. 

Those who pursued an unconventional career path tend to enjoy their career more. 

If you want to learn more and navigate an unconventional career path, then you should take the Navigating An Unconventional Career Path online course.  This course is designed for those interested to learn the basics of developing a non-conventional career by identifying your career goals and taking on projects and new opportunities based on your existing skills and experience.

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