What Career?

How do I decide what career is right for me?

Choosing a career could potentially be the most difficult decision you are ever likely to make, as there are so many complicating factors involved based on so many different questions.

Do have an instinctive feel for how you want to spend your working life? Is this based on talents and skills that you already have or would like to acquire? Is it influenced by family members or friends, or something you have read about? Will you in fact need to spend a lot of time thinking and researching possible careers?

Let us assume that you are not sure. In that case, there are certain steps you can take to work out the choice that suits you best.

The place to start is to think about and focus on the things you are good at, not just at school or college, but also in your spare time. You might be a member of a local club, interacting with people and organising events, maybe for challenging young adults. You might even be using leadership and management skills that you haven’t even thought about.

Working with your careers office is also a good idea. They can help you with self-assessment exercises, personality tests, and work with you to narrow the myriad of choices into a sensible range of three or four options.

There are other issues they can discuss with you. What kind of person are you? Are you friendly and outgoing? Would you rather work outside, or inside? Are you an academic, studious sort of person? Do you want to be given tasks and simply left to get on with it, or work in teams? Do you want to work in another region, or even another country?

They might even tease out some surprising answers from you!

You will need to think about the academic side of your possible career. What kind of qualifications will you need? To be a doctor you will need ‘A’ levels in chemistry, physics or biology. To be a teacher, you will need an undergraduate degree, but not necessarily in the subject area that you intend to teach in, as there are updating qualifications you can take. For university lecturing and research posts, you will need to have a masters’ or a Ph.D. For careers in human resources you will need professional qualifications in personnel management and continuous personal development. You may consider a foundation degree or HNC/HND in your chosen vocational area.

What other factors should you think about? Are there good training and promotion prospects, such as in the police, or marketing and advertising? Is there a national salary structure? What are the pension prospects? Is there a high labour turnover, as in call centres? Are there regular, rapid changes in operational systems and organisational structures, such as in teaching or the health service?

Answering all of the questions posed here, to your own satisfaction, will surely lead you to the one area where you can demonstrate your passion, commitment and determination to be successful.