Five Factors for Making a Career Decision

Woman standing in front of many shoe options
Whenever I see something that talks about hot careers for the future, various choices in healthcare populate the list. It does make sense for a healthcare career to be a smart choice for all the reasons that are talked about — people always need healthcare, baby boomers are getting to retirement age and will require more services from this sector, and so on. But should the fact that it is a strong industry (and will continue to be for some time) dictate your decision?

It depends. If job stability and a choice of employers are important to you, this may be a good option.

Here are some other factors to consider:

1. Educational requirements. Not sure if you like the idea of having to go to school for four years to get a degree? There are some fields that allow for on-the-job training or an associate’s degree to get started. Also consider the long-term education that you must take to remain current. For example, teachers are required to earn a certain amount of credits to maintain their certification, while computer programmers don’t have any type of certification to keep up (though, given the nature of the job, it would be beneficial to keep up on the latest languages and tech developments).

2. Advancement opportunities. Despite the myth that perpetuates, not everyone wants to advance to a management position. And then there are others who place great value on this. While some of this is dependent on your place of employment, keep in mind that some careers don’t have the same types of ladders of advancement as others.

3. Passion. There is really a spectrum when it comes to this. For me, I need to be passionate about what I am doing to be able to succeed with it. I’ve learned over time that it generally doesn’t go well if I am not engaged with what I am doing. Other folks say that you don’t have to love your job to be able to do it well and earn your regular paycheck. The best thing for you to do is to be introspective — think about the successes you’ve had in life and determine how passion played into it. Have there been times that you liked something, but weren’t crazy about it, and still did well? That will give you your answer for how much to consider this factor.

4. Strengths. It’s not enough to love doing something. Be realistic. If you don’t have the talent to do the job, you will have a hard time getting/staying employed. Sure, I’ve always loved playing music; however, no matter how much I practiced, my natural abilities curbed any chances I had at going pro. It’s just the way it was.

5. Schedule. Say you are a single parent with children under the age of 12 and don’t have a nanny or family nearby to care for them in your absence. In that situation, a job that requires overnight travel up to 50% of the time wouldn’t fit well with your life. Pick something that will mesh at least somewhat with your after-hours requirements. If you’re constantly fighting with your schedule, it will leave you drained and less effective at work and home.

One thing to keep in mind: the choice you make now may not be your last. It is rare for people to be in one career for the duration of their working days. Change can, and does, happen. As someone who initially got a bachelor’s in elementary education, worked for 14 years in nonprofit management, got an MBA, and is now a career professional, I know how it goes. How your life matches up to the above-mentioned factors will evolve over time.

What other factors have helped you make your career decisions?

Image courtesy of Satya Murthy

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