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How to Decide Which Career is Right For You

Whether you’re a college freshman about to leave home for the first time or an experienced worker who just got laid off, deciding which career is right for you can be a daunting task. With so many to choose from, how do you know which career will be a good fit, which will bring you the most personal fulfillment, and which will allow you to pay the bills?

When you’re choosing a career, it helps to think about a variety of factors, not just how much money you’ll take home at the end of the day. Check out these top five 5 career decision-making factors:

Career Decision Factor #1:
What do you like to do?
This is probably the most important factor to consider, because if you don’t like what you do, you could very possibly end up hating your job and quitting within a few years to do something else.

If you’re feeling stumped about which job is right for you, consider your personal interests, passions, and hobbies and how you can turn one of them into a career. Do you love animals and science? A veterinary technician career might be perfect for you. Are you more of a people person with an eye for fashion? A career as a fashion buyer, fashion merchandiser, or sales rep might be the way to go. Make a list of your favorite things and use our career profiles page to find careers related to that interest.

Picking a career that plays to your natural talents and interests is key to long-term success. As H. Jackson Brown, Jr. said, “Find a job you like and you add five days to every week.”

Career Decision Factor #2:
What industry is right for you?
Picking the right industry can be just as important as picking the right job. Different industries grow at different rates, and can therefore offer different opportunities for growth and advancement. Finding an industry that fits with your career needs can ensure your happiness at work, as well job security for the future.

Healthcare, for example, is an industry that is growing by leaps and bounds, and it’s not just for nurses and doctors. Growing healthcare facilities are in need of communications specialists, computer technology experts, and human resources professionals, making it a good industry for a wide variety of career professionals.

Career Decision Factor #3:
What degree is right for you?
As you consider different career choices, you may also want to consider the educational and certification requirements that accompany different jobs. Think about how long you want to be in school, what you’d like to study, and how much you’re willing to spend on your education. These factors can be a good guide in helping you find the right career.

Consider a career in medicine, for example. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of being a surgeon, but spending thousands of dollars (literally) and 11 (or more) years in school doesn’t sound right for you. There are many other healthcare careers, from nursing to physician assistant to EMT, that will allow you to save lives without investing that level of time (or money.)

Career Decision Factor #4:
Where do you want to live?
Where you live can also affect your career. If you want to be a financial trader, for example, you’re most likely going to need to live in a large city close to the markets. But if you want to be a social worker, you may actually have better luck finding employment in a more rural area.

Before you choose a career, think about where you want to live. Are you a city person or a country person? Do you want to live somewhere warm, or do you want to be close to your family? Once you have a good idea of where you want to live, do some research and find out which careers and industries offer opportunities in that state or region.

Career Decision Factor #5:
What kind of lifestyle do you want?
Different careers come with different levels of commitment and expectations. Doctors and lawyers, for example, may take home some serious paychecks, but they’re also expected to work long, irregular hours and devote a majority of their lives to developing their practices.

Teachers, on the other hand, also have a lot on their plates, but are able to enjoy nights, weekends, holidays, and summers with friends and families.

Before you choose a career: think long and hard about what is most important to you. Do you care so much about your career that you’re willing to sacrifice personal and family time for work? Would you prefer to have a less demanding career that allows you to travel, be at home with your children, and pursue other interests?

By finding the balance between work and personal life that’s right for you, you’ll be sure to start a career that keeps you fulfilled both in and out of the workplace.

Noel Rozny writes the bi-weekly career blog mypathfinder for the myFootpath website. myFootpath is a resource to help you in your search for a college, degree program, career, graduate school, and non-traditional experiences. Visit www.myfootpath.com to start your college or degree program search.

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