Career Planning | ACTC

Career Planning

Student Success: Tips for Choosing a Career

Planning for college should begin once you enter high school. Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Most people spend half or more of their waking hours five days a week at their jobs. While selecting a career can be a difficult process, the following tips can make this process easier for you.

  1. Extensive reading about potential careers is vital. You will discover details about careers that you were not aware of. It's important to collect vital information such as career descriptions, career outlooks, employment trends, educational requirements, and potential earnings. Two excellent web sites are: The Occupational Outlook Handbook, and America's Career Infonet.
  2. Interviewing people in the field is an excellent way to learn about the various aspects of a career. Doing this may also provide good networking opportunities. Informational interviews often change a person's perspective about an occupation. You can find interview candidates by asking friends, teachers, members of an alumni association, and neighbors. You can also contact relevant professional associations and societies, and visit appropriate social and professional networking site online.
  3. Internships provide excellent opportunities for acquiring a realistic, clear picture about the daily duties and job satisfaction of a particular occupation. Also, internships provide valuable networking opportunities that may lead to a job. Further, companies often hire interns that perform well. Volunteering also provides many of the advantages of an internship.
  4. Look for lists of "hot jobs" on the Internet and in magazines. Do this frequently since these lists keep changing. A "hot job" today may not be "hot" next year or the year after. When evaluating these lists keep in mind your interests, skills, and job satisfaction requirements. 
  5. Take into consideration the amount of job opportunities in your area for each career you are considering. This is vital if you intend to stay in your current location.
  6. The skills required for a career are an essential factor for an individual's potential for success in that career. Write a list of the skills needed for a particular field. Place a check next to each skill you possess. The more checks you make, the more likely this field is right for you.
  7. Your aptitudes should be a vital factor in your career selection process. A gratifying career is often built upon a match with what you are naturally good at. Natural strengths allow an individual to work with ease and to acquire expertise faster.
  8. Explore the advancement opportunities of each potential occupation. Does advancement require additional education? Will additional education and certification provide you with a significant advantage over the competition? Are supervisory and management opportunities available?
  9. Understand the payoff for success in school. Examine the relationship between levels of educational attainment and income earned during ones working life. The difference between graduating from high school and dropping out is over $300,000. A Bachelor's degree is worth $700,000 more than a high school diploma.

Education is the best investment you can make for yourself. The higher your level of attainment, the more income you'll be likely to earn and the better your life will probably be. Make the effort to get the most education you can, and start planning for your future now.