Selecting the Right Career Path

Find Out How to Pick the Right Career for You

Man thinking about something.
Get serious about choosing a career. RUNSTUDIO/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Many readers ask, "How Do I Pick the Right Career?" Here is the answer.

The most important thing you can do when trying to choose a career is to pick one that is right for you. That means it needs to fit well with your interests, aptitudes, work-related values, and personality type. Why? If a career fits these criteria, there is a better chance you will be satisfied with it and enjoy your work.

Your first order of business is to learn as much as you can about yourself.

If you think you know all there is to know, you will definitely be surprised by what you will discover by going through a self assessment. While you can find online resources to help you with this, the most efficient and effective way to do it—although usually not cheap—is to hire a career development professional, for example a career counselor or career development facilitator. He or she will use various tools to help you gather information about yourself and, based on it, provide you with a list of careers that are a good match.

If finances are an issue, don't let that keep you from getting the help you need. Check with your local public library since some offer career planning help or will be able to direct you to local agencies that do. Also check with local colleges and universities. Most have career services offices which may be open to members of the community. Programs that train career counselors often have students work with clients at no or a low cost in order to gain experience.

The self assessment is not your final step in figuring out what career is right for you but it is a great starting point to begin your quest. Yes, you will have a list of occupations as a result, but not everything on it will appeal to you and some of the occupations won't be feasible choices. But you won't know any of that yet because your next step in choosing the right career is still ahead.

It will start with gathering information that will include getting a job description, learning about required training and education and seeing what the outlook for the field is. Why is any of this important? None of us, not even those who are well versed in the field of career planning, can know everything there is to know about all occupations. You may have some careers on your list about which you know nothing or very little. You should at least get a brief description before you decide that a career isn't right for you. You may learn something you didn't know.

Finding out about required education and training is very important too. Let's say, for example, there's an occupation on your list but it requires a great deal of education before you can begin working. If you have neither the desire nor the resources to commit to something like that, it's not a good choice for you. Likewise, neither is a career that requires little training when you have the inclination and ability to earn a college degree.

Finally, you will be doing yourself a great disservice if you don't look at job outlook. Investing time training for a career only to find out there are limited opportunities when you are ready to enter your field of choice will leave you having to start over. 

When you have narrowed down your choices to just a few, then you should investigate even further, perhaps conducting some informational interviews with those working in the field. You can now make an educated decision. Now that's how to choose the right career.

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