Career Ideas

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Generating career ideas does not have to be difficult. Starting with what you know is a simple way to begin. You might make a list of dream jobs or start by considering your personal interests and long-term goals.

College Career Ideas

Finding a career that you are passionate about can help make your professional life interesting, fulfilling, and meaningful. It can also benefit your long-term job satisfaction and mental health.

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As you begin your search of careers to go to college for, try to be open-minded. You may discover professional roles outside of the major careers that you didn’t even know existed.

Career Ideas

Young student using digital tablet for studying

Choosing a career can feel daunting. Where do you begin finding job ideas? While there are many ways to go about this, it can be helpful to start by considering personal factors, such as your interests, experiences, and strengths.

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Utilizing all the resources available to you can help you make an informed decision and increase your chances of choosing a career that you love. Here are 5 tips to help you come up with career ideas that might suit you:

1. Consider Your Interests

Following your interests can help you select an engaging, motivating career path. If you are passionate about what you do, there is a lower chance of experiencing burnout or frustration with your job.

You can begin by writing down some of your interests and then searching for jobs that incorporate those in some way. For example, if you love being around animals, that might translate well into a career as a veterinarian, zoological scientist, or dog walker.

2. List Your Strengths

college student reviewing and taking down notes

Listing your strengths is another great way to narrow down career options. How do you know what your strengths are? You can think about what you know you’re good at, as well as what others say about your strengths. Trusted teachers, friends, and family may be able to help you with this.

Once you have a list of your strengths, you can look for roles or organizations that hire individuals with those characteristics and skills. If you have verbal communication and writing listed as strengths, for instance, you might consider careers in public relations, communications, or teaching.

3. Make a List of Your Values

Having a strong understanding of your personal values can help you find a company or organization whose mission aligns with those. You can think of values that relate to the vision statement of a business as well as ones that speak to company culture.

Finding an organization whose mission statement reflects your personal values can be extremely motivating. It also helps eliminate companies that may not have your best interests at heart. Additionally, it is more likely that you will find a work environment in which you will thrive if you are clear about your expectations in this area.

4. Reflect on Impactful Memories

two students learning together for exam

Reflecting on important and impactful moments in your life can help you illuminate potential career paths. After all, these memories have stayed with you for a reason.

Maybe you spent a summer with your nieces and nephews and had a great experience helping them learn and grow. That might translate well into a career in youth development or education. Or perhaps you witnessed a licensed medical professional intervene in an emergency and would like to pursue a career as a doctor or nurse.

There are endless possibilities, but considering the important memories in your life can help narrow those down.

5. Research Potential Careers

A woman doing research on college career

A straightforward way to begin a career search is by researching potential jobs. There are several ways to do this. You can simply search for different types of careers to get a broad overview of what is available.

If you want to narrow down your search results, you can try looking for careers within a specific field, such as healthcare or marketing. This can yield some specific job titles for you to explore further. Another great way to research potential careers is by asking the people in your life about their jobs. What are their exact job duties? Do they enjoy what they do?

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You can even ask to shadow people at their work, although do not expect to always get approval for this. As you research and explore your options, it is important to trust yourself. Following your interests and passions can help lead you to an exciting and fulfilling career.

How to Research College Career Ideas

college student watching class webinar online

When researching career ideas, there are various helpful sites that can help you narrow down the career paths that may be right for you.

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Here are a few especially helpful tools that can help you learn how to find a career:

  • Career Exploration:  Here, you will find a long list of interests. Click on those that pique your interest to see potential career options.  This is a great tool for brainstorming.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook:  For each occupation, you will find a job description, what education or training is needed, salary and job growth outlook, and similar professions. You can sort by education or pay, look at the fastest growing occupations or the newest occupations.
  • LinkedIn:  LinkedIn is a professional social platform that allows you to connect with others who have the same degree you are interested in. LinkedIn also offers career-specific groups that you can join to learn more about a specific career path and connect with others who have experience in the particular field.
  •  O*NET OnLine: This site allows you to browse and search very specific job types in various fields. You can search for careers and jobs based on the career outlook, field, skills required, or jobs specific to STEM or those within a green sector. This site can guide you in the right direction while teaching you how to research career options.

Take some time to explore the BLS and the other resources listed to see what new career ideas are available.

Should I Change Career?

Two students thinking about career change

When should you change careers? That is a question that only you can answer, however, there are some helpful factors to consider as you make your decision.

You can reflect on the following questions as you make your choice:

  • Do I love my work?
  • Why am I feeling dissatisfied or unhappy in my career? Is there a possible solution to these problems?
  • Is there room for professional and personal growth in my job?
  • Do I feel valued at work?
  • What are my goals for the future?

Answering these questions can help you get to the root of your professional problems or dilemmas. If you are experiencing a stressful situation that can be changed with clear communication or collaboration, for example, you might not be wanting a change in your career. If your problem does not have a solution, such as a disbelief in the company’s mission or values, it may be time to consider a career change.

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Perhaps you’re going back to school as an adult and are looking for a career change at 30. Rest assured there are plenty of options. Even a career change at 40 or 50 is practical using the various resources outlined within this article. While career changes can be intimidating, knowing that you are leaving for the right reasons can help you take the leap with confidence.

Types of Career Options

university student reading in the library

There are thousands of careers to choose from, but here is a list of the top 40 in the most popular fields to help get you thinking. Click the field to learn more about the necessary education, salary range, and what specific occupations you could consider.

  • Accounting Careers:  For those students with a knack for mathematics, organization, and leadership, an accounting degree can be an excellent starting point to pursue a lucrative business career. By helping companies manage their financial obligations, accounting professionals play a vital role in an organization’s success in the business world.
  • Architecture Careers:  For those with a detail-oriented mind and knack for creative design, an architecture degree is an excellent way to pursue a fast-paced, lucrative career. Whether you go on to become a licensed architect or translate your skills into a related industry, there is a number of exciting career opportunities for those who have a strong architectural skillset.
  • Art Careers:  Some people just have a knack for creativity and design, and luckily there are many ways that you can turn that passion for art into a fulfilling and exciting career. From fine art to graphic design, there are many different directions that you can take to achieve your goals.
  • Biology Careers:  If you are someone with a scientific mind that enjoys exploring the wonders of the natural world, then a degree in Biology can open the door to a number of lucrative, professional careers. Whether you are researching in a laboratory setting, teaching at a university, or working out in the field, a biology degree gives you the opportunity to make a direct impact on the world around you.
  • Business Careers:  If you can picture yourself at the top of the corporate world or would like to have the potential of earning a six-figure salary, then Business Administration is the perfect choice to begin your career journey.
  • Communications Careers:  Are you interested in film and TV production or do you enjoy being in the spotlight with public relations and journalism? In the field of communications, career options are endless for turning your innate talents into a lucrative job opportunity.
  • Computer Science Careers:  If you are looking for a way to combine your technical skills with a passion for science, then a degree in computer science is the perfect path to a rewarding career. With constantly changing technology and an increasingly competitive business environment, the sky is the limit for turning your computer science degree into a lucrative job opportunity.
  • Counseling Careers: If you have a passion for working directly with people and a knack for compassion and understanding, then a degree in counseling could be the perfect fit for you! With a wide range of disciplines and a positive job outlook, those interested in counseling have a number of opportunities available for turning their degree into a rewarding, exciting career.
  • Criminal Justice Careers:  Are you passionate about justice and have a knack for leadership? Then pursuing a career in criminal justice can set you up for a variety of rewarding job opportunities that give you the power to help others and make a difference in your community.
  • Culinary Careers:  If you love food and have an artistic flair, then earning a degree in the culinary arts may be the perfect fit. By honing your culinary talent and developing an expert skillset, you can get a jumpstart into becoming a top chef within the field.
  • Economics Careers:  For those that enjoy the challenges of working with data and numbers, a degree in economics opens the door to a number of fast-paced business careers. Whether you want to translate your skills into research, management, sales, or finances, the knowledge gained through this degree program is an excellent starting point to reach your long-term goals.
  • Education and Teaching Careers:  Educators play an essential role in developing the minds of the next generation. To make a difference in your community, consider choosing from one of the many rewarding career paths in education and teaching.
  • Engineering Careers:  If you are interested in a fast-paced, challenging career field that comes with a hefty salary, then working towards a degree in engineering is the perfect chance to show off your skills and put your innovative talents to use.
  • English Careers:  Are you a master of words with a passion for communication and literature? Then an English degree could be your ticket to a fulfilling and diverse career in a number of industries that include teaching, journalism, and public relations.
  • Finance Careers:  Would you like a fast-paced career with the potential of earning more than six figures a year? Then a degree in finance is the perfect way to get a jumpstart in the corporate world. With a number of choices for lucrative careers, finance is an excellent choice to make an impact in the business world.
  • General Studies Careers:  Are you a trailblazer with a diverse set of interests? Then consider the flexibility of a degree in general studies. By custom designing your education, you can set yourself up to pursue fulfilling careers in business, communications, science, and more.
  • Graphic Design Careers:  If you have an interest in a fast-paced professional career that allows you to put your creative skills to the test, then the field of graphic design may be the right for you. Whether you work within a graphic design firm or branch out into marketing or web design, there are a number of exciting career opportunities available with a graphics design degree.
  • Healthcare Careers:  Skilled healthcare workers are always in high demand, and with a degree in healthcare, you can take the first step in joining this rewarding field. From skilled administrators to doctors and surgical professionals, healthcare is an excellent choice for a fulfilling career.
  • History Careers:  If you are interested in learning about the past to create a better future for our world, then consider the versatile history degree program. With a history degree, you will have the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills to a number of careers, including business, law, and government work.
  • IT Careers:  Information technology is a booming industry, and now is the perfect time to jump into an exciting, lucrative IT career. If you have strong computer skills and a head for business and management, the constantly expanding IT world may be for you.
  • Journalism Careers:  For those who want to build a career revolving around the written word, a degree in journalism is an excellent way to share your skills with the world. Whether you work within traditional publication settings or lead an organization’s public relations or marketing efforts, the skills that you learn throughout the course of your journalism degree program open the door to a number of exciting, lucrative careers.
  • Law Careers:  For those interested in a fast-paced career with a lucrative annual salary, a law degree can open the door to a number of highly-respected jobs. Whether you want to work as an attorney or preside over court cases as a judge, a law degree is an essential component for entering this competitive and prestigious industry.
  • Liberal Arts Careers:  If you enjoy working with people and helping others reach their potential, then pursuing a degree in liberal arts can be a great start to a lasting career. From English and literature to sales and corporate business, there is a world of opportunity available within the field of liberal arts.
  • Marketing Careers:  If you are looking for a way to turn your leadership and creative skills into a rewarding corporate career, then marketing may be the perfect field to showcase your talents. From creating advertising campaigns to project management or sales, there are countless options to utilize your marketing degree in the fast-paced business world.
  • Math Careers:  For those with an analytical mind and a knack for working with numbers, a degree in mathematics can open the door to exciting jobs across a variety of industries. Through a mathematics degree program, you will develop a professional skill set that is an excellent starting point for embarking on a lucrative, challenging career path.
  • Nursing Careers:  If you have a passion for helping others and are excellent at staying cool under pressure, you can pursue a rewarding career in the popular field of nursing after completing one of the many flexible degree program options.
  • Nutrition Careers:  For those with a passion for healthy living and a desire to help others modify their diets to enjoy the benefits of good health, a degree in nutrition can be the perfect start to a rewarding career. From the food industry to education and public health, there are a number of job paths available to those with nutritional knowledge.
  • Political Science Careers:  Political science is an expansive degree program that exposes students to in-depth knowledge concerning government, politics, and world culture. While many political science graduates go on to work within the political sector, there is also ample opportunity for building a rewarding, lucrative career within the fields of law, business, research, and education.
  • Psychology Careers:  From clinical psychiatrists to scientific researchers, the field of psychology offers ample opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.
  • Science Careers:  If you enjoy studying complex systems and want to make an impact by improving the world in which we live, then pursuing a degree in science gives you a multitude of options to create a career out of your passions.
  • Social Work Careers:  Do you have a passion for helping others and want to make a difference in the world around you? Then consider earning a degree in social work. From social services to community outreach, there are a number of ways you can turn your degree into a rewarding career.
  • Theology Careers:  For those with a passion for helping others and a calling to work within ministry or teaching, a degree in theology may be an excellent way to begin your journey to spreading your spiritual message and embarking on a fulfilling career.

As you can see, there are many career options out there. It’s important to research any that you are interested in and try to find one that fits your current skillset and interests.

Careers Ideas & Salaries

Careers Ideas & Salaries

Choosing a career to pursue can be a daunting task. Luckily, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides a wealth of information on career options. The BLS also offers a growth outlook for each specific career.

Here are 40 popular career choices and their respective annual median salaries according to the BLS:

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Dentists $160,370
Marketing Directors $135,030
Astronomers $128,160
Lawyers $127,990
Aerospace Engineers $122,270
Software Developers $110,140
Mathematicians $108,100
Economists $105,630
Psychotherapists $102,900
Information Security Analysts $102,600
Bank Examiner $81,410
Architects $80,180
Psychologists – Elementary School $78,830
Animators $78,790
Technical Writers $78,060
Registered Nurses $77,600
Accountants – Government $77,290
Auditors $77,250
Aquatics Biologists $64,650
Historians $63,940
Market Research Analysts $63,920
Stock Brokers $62,910
Lobbyists $62,800
High School Teachers $61,820
Dieticians $61,650
Artists $61,580
Social Workers $61,190
Paralegals $56,230
Head Chefs $50,160
Pastors $49,720
News Reporters $48,370
Journalists – Newspaper $38,210

The table above shows the annual median salaries for 40 of the top career paths. The BLS website also provides growth projections.

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For example, the projected growth for accountants and auditors is 7% over the next 10 years. You can use this list as a starting point when choosing the best careers for you to consider.

What Career is Right for Me?

Student researching on requirements for pursuing his chosen career

Whether you are fresh out of high school or have been working in your current field for decades, there are many important factors to consider when choosing a career.

Here are 3 important questions you may want to ask yourself when determining your new career path:

1. What Kind of Education or Training is Needed in this Career?

With any career, the opportunity to reach higher pay grades tends to coincide with the level of education you attain.

  • Associate’s Degree:  This 2-year degree allows you to land an entry-level position and is a stepping stone to your bachelor’s degree
  • Bachelor’s Degree: This 4-year degree is the most common degree program to begin your professional career.
  • Graduate Degrees: Once you have earned a bachelor’s degree, attending graduate school to work towards a master’s degree or doctorate degree becomes an option.

In some trades, apprenticeships and certificates may also be required stepping stones to enter the workforce. Online colleges offer great opportunities to get your new degree or certificate.

2. Will the Job be In-Demand and Pay Well Once I Graduate?

Woman applying for jobs after graduation

If you’re going to invest time and money into changing career paths, it’s important to know that it will be worth it. You can find the following topics listed on the BLS website to help you gain a broader understanding of the specific occupation:

  • Job description
  • Educational requirements
  • Work environment
  • Salary information
  • Job outlook
  • State and area data

You can use the information found on the BLS website to help you determine a career path that will be worth it based on what you’re interested in.

3. How do I Find the Best Career for my Strengths, Interests, and Skills?

Friends looking at options for their college career

When choosing a career, it’s important to do some self-reflection, and career tests can help you with that. Here are 5  highly reputable sites with assessments that can help determine the best careers for all:

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: This test is designed to help you understand and improve your decision-making abilities, stress management style, and communication effectiveness.
  • MAPP (Motivational Appraisal Personal Potential) Career Assessment Test: This site can help pinpoint your strengths and passions, and then offer appropriate career suggestions.
  • John Holland’s Self-Directed Search:  This assessment considers your aspirations, activities, competencies, interests, and more to determine which category you fit into, and then suggests a list of careers most likely to align with your results.
  • Test your career personality, interest, skills, and values, each of which can help you learn more about how you handle certain work-related experiences or environments.
  • Career Explorer by Sokanu:  This career matching platform assesses interests, personality, and preferences relating to 140 traits, and uses the data to match you to more than 800 professions.

Remember, though, that these tests only assess the data you provide based on the questions asked. The top careers matched with you are just suggestions, to give you a starting point as you start to consider all of your options.

What Are the Most in Demand Jobs for the Future?

Woman getting hired right after graduation

When asking what jobs are in demand, it’s important to know that there are many career choices with projected employment growth over the next 10 years.

The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s common careers with a positive job outlook over the next 10 years include:

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Physical Therapists $95,620
Computer and Information Systems Managers $159,010
Financial Managers $131,710
Speech-Language Pathologists $79,060
Market Research Analysts $63,920

You can research jobs in your field of interest to see if there are any top jobs in demand.

What is a Fun Job That Pays Well?

What is considered a fun job is unique to each individual. Some things that may make a job fun are a great team, flexible schedule, interesting job duties, or a unique work environment. The chart below highlights some popular careers and their annual median salaries per data from the BLS.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Software Developers $110,140
Fashion Designers $77,450
Marine Biologists $64,650
Conservation Scientists $63,750

It is important to remember that your idea of a fun job may be different than someone else’s. Always keep in mind your own interests, strengths, and goals when debating how to pick a career.

Planning Your Career with a College Degree Online

university student preparing for online class

Utilizing the resources available to you can help you find a career to pursue that you love and enjoy. Once you have narrowed down your potential career options, you can search for an accredited online program that offers degrees in your area of interest.

For example, if you are hoping to become a social media specialist, you may search for schools that offer a digital marketing degree with an option to specialize in social media. Finding a degree program that aligns with your work aspirations and personal interests will help make college careers ideas both useful and fulfilling.

Ready to start your journey?
Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.