In today’s economic times, people are becoming smarter with their finances. We are using coupons, taking a harder look at our purchases, and trying to stretch our hard-earned dollar just a bit farther.
Careers are also being scrutinized more carefully. At one time, deciding on your career simply meant choosing something you would love to do. Today, school is considered a smart financial investment, one that should be carefully considered and researched. Older adults are now joining the students entering college, people who are switching or starting a new career later in life. Colleges and Universities have made going back to school easier by offering evening and weekend classes for those who work or have a family.
Deciding on a career path can be a daunting task. Students, young or older, who are looking for the perfect career, should consider the following:
What is the expected growth rate of my chosen career?
Some careers fluctuate in popularity. Others have always been in steady demand and make a smart choice for those looking for a dependable, secure job. Where does your career stack up against others? Is your chosen field experiencing growth? If so, what is the anticipated growth in five or ten years? Choosing a career that will always be in demand, such as one in the healthcare field, ensures you will have job security now, as well as many years down the line.
How will I stay competitive in my field?
Some careers require additional schooling, such as certification or workshops that will keep you current in licensure or certification. Are you interested in advancement? If so, is there room for advancement in your chosen career or will you be locked into your position? It is important to envision yourself five or ten years from now. If you love to learn, you make want to choose a career that offers advancement opportunities. Some employers even offer educational reimbursements for a related field.
Where is the highest demand for my career?
The career you select may be in high demand in New York, while you live in Connecticut. Some areas have been saturated, making it difficult to get the job you want. Other areas desperately need qualified employees and are willing to offer lucrative benefit packages to get you. Where does your career choice lead you? Are you willing to re-locate?
Does my career choice typically offer benefits?
Employer benefits such as health, dental and vision may not seem important right now. Your view may change in a few years, should you decide to start a family or need to see the doctor. These benefits can total up to 30% of the total compensation you receive from your Employer, making this an important area to consider. It is also important to research retirement benefits such as 401K, which will add even more to the total compensation package you receive.
What will my work environment be?
You will spend around forty to fifty hours a week at your job, making it, in essence, your ‘second home.’ Carefully consider your career choice and any physical requirements it may have. Will you be required to lift heavy objects regularly? Will your career require you to stand for long periods of time, or work outside in inclement weather? Picture yourself five or ten years from now, and ensure your career is the right fit for you.
What is the salary range for my career?
In researching different jobs, you may find a variance in salaries from rural to metropolitan areas, as well as from Coast to Coast. Your job in Ohio may pay $50,000 annually, while the same job may bring in $65,000 in New York City. Will your chosen career allow you to be financially independent? In other words, can you live comfortably? While money should not be the only factor in choosing a career, it is important. No one wants to live paycheck to paycheck. Many people going back to school are doing so to earn more money.
A career typically will total 128 months of your life
You will spend a large portion of your week at work. If you select a career based solely on a lucrative salary range, you may find yourself bored and lacking the stimulation of an exciting career. Finding a balance is the smartest choice. Your career should interest you. You should look forward to going to work, and enjoy the fulfillment of doing your job well. Choosing a career that doesn’t peak your interest could find you bored and feeling unfulfilled at work. A career path you are interested and passionate about will focus you, and drive you to be great at what you do.
If you do not know what areas may interest you, you are not alone! Rather than guesswork, many colleges and universities offer career tests and planning. In addition, the United States military offers career testing (with no obligation to enlist). These career tests have no right or wrong answer. They are designed to learn what skills you may be good at and which areas you may find success in. For instance, your test results may indicate you have a highly analytical mind, you show a math aptitude and you are a good problem solver. Learning this can help steer you towards a career path that will use these skills.
Our population is now over 7 billion.
Due to our advancements in medicine as well as the longevity increase in our elderly, the population is exploding. To meet the needs of the elderly as well as the general population, the healthcare field is expanding. It is now one of the fastest growing industries. Thirteen of the top twenty fastest-growing careers are in healthcare, making this a great time to enter the field.