Comparing Career Educational RequirementsWith any career, the opportunity to reach higher pay-grades tends to coincide with the level of education you attain, be it an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree. In some trades, apprenticeships and certificates may also be required stepping stones to enter the workforce.
- Associate’s degree – Generally, an associate's degree is a stepping stone on your way to a Bachelor's degree. However, it is possible to land an entry-level position with an associate's degree, and with time and dedication, you should have opportunities to work your way up the ladder.
- Bachelor’s degree – This is the most common degree program to begin your professional career. With the specialized skills learned through the course of this degree, the doors to a wide-range of entry to mid-level professions will be opened for you.
- Graduate Degrees – Once you have earned a bachelor’s degree in your chosen field, attending graduate school to work towards a master’s or doctorate degree becomes an option. The job market today is highly competitive and earning a graduate degree may help you stand out from the crowd, not to mention boost your salary.
Career Outlook and Salary
Career outlook and salary potential are both essential for understanding how the future will look after you have graduated from college. The job market is in constant flux, and with the evolution of new technology and changing market conditions, new jobs are being created while others are falling off the radar.There are a number of ways to research your intended career path, and one of the best is by utilizing the information provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS is a Federal agency that monitors labor market activity, working conditions, and economic factors that affect occupations. The Occupational Outlook Handbook on the BLS website is a great resource for students looking to gather information on various careers. You can find the following topics listed in this section of the 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
Looking for a Career Change?Feeling stuck and ready for a career change? You’re not alone! The average person will change careers 5-7 times during their working life. There are many different reasons people opt to change careers. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Not feeling challenged, or feeling under utilized
- Changes in the industry
- Inability to advance
- Schedule is no longer compatible with lifestyle
- Change in circumstances
- Need more money
- Want to explore a passion
Second Career IdeasWhen it comes to choosing your next career, some people may say “The sky’s the limit” or “Follow your dreams” – that freedom is exhilarating! But as an adult you need to be practical. There are a lot of questions you will need to think about.
- What type of training or education will I need for this new career? When and where can I get that?
- How long will the transition take?
- How much money will it cost?
- Will this new career work well with my lifestyle now and in the future?
- Will this new career offer financial stability?
- Dental Hygienist
- Massage Therapist
- Medical Insurance Billing
- Business Management
- Hotel / Restaurant Management
- Occupational Therapy Aide
- Web Developer
- Private Detective / Investigator
Career Ideas ListThere are hundreds of “career ideas lists” on the internet, but what you need is a place to help you find the right career …for you! For that, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the best resource out there! The BLS offers more than just salary data for different occupations. The site is full of articles and tools that can help you determine which field would best suit you, what education or training you may need, how to narrow down your options, and can often introduce new careers you may not be familiar with. Here are a few especially helpful resources on the BLS site:
- Career Exploration. Here, you will find a long list of interests. Click on those that pique your interest to see potential career paths. For example, if you enjoy helping your community, you might consider working as a childcare worker, firefighter, police officer, social worker or as a school or career counselor. This is a great tool for brainstorming!
- Occupational Outlook Handbook. If you already have a few ideas in mind, this is the go-to place to find all the important data you will need to make a decision! For each occupation, you will find a job description, what education and training is needed, salary and job growth outlook, and similar professions. The handbook allows you to browse occupation groups, such as all careers under the healthcare umbrella, or the legal umbrella, for example. You can sort by education or pay, look at the fastest growing occupations or the newest occupations. If you’re not sure if you’d rather be an accountant or a financial analyst, this is a great place to learn and compare your options and learn about other alternatives.
- Occupation Finder. Within the Occupational Outlook Handbook is the Occupational Finder, where you can browse through a list of more than 800 occupations to see the projected growth, median salary information and education or training necessary for each. If you have a few options in mind, this tool can help you easily compare them and narrow your choices.
- Career Planning for High Schoolers. This article discusses a number of ways you can explore your interests to help determine a good career fit. It points out the value in internships, jobs, volunteer positions, involvement with professional organizations and similar opportunities that offer students exposure to their potential future careers. Finally, the article offers information about education and training during and after high school, and provides a number of additional resources.
How to Find Career IdeasWhether you’re 18 and about to graduate high school or you’re 45 and looking for a change, choosing a career path can be overwhelming! A lot of time, money and effort will go into this next chapter of your life, so it’s important to make the right choice. Here are 4 tips to help you find career ideas:
- Consider your passions and talents. Your career will make up a big part of your life. You should choose something you enjoy, and something you are good at. Make a list of your strengths and brainstorm related career paths.
- Ask your people. Talk to the people who know you best: your parents, friends, family members, and coworkers. They see your strengths and weaknesses, and may be able to offer you some insight or advice.
- Research. Poke around on the BLS site. Look up some of the careers that interest you and look at the growth and salary potential, then view the similar occupations and explore those, too.
- Test it out. Look for internships, job shadowing opportunities and entry-level jobs in the field. Join professional organizations or clubs where you can meet people who work in the occupations you are interested in. When choosing a career, it’s important to understand the day-to-day responsibilities and consider the drawbacks.
Job Ideas - Take a Career TestAnother way to find a career that suits you is to take a career test. These tests ask questions about your strengths and weaknesses, your interests, your goals and so on, and then assess your answers and provide suggestions of careers that may be a good fit for you. Here are five highly reputable sites that offer career tests to help you get ideas for jobs that suit you:
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Arguably the most well-known personality assessment, this test is designed to help you understand and improve your decision-making abilities, stress management style and communication effectiveness. It can also identify your learning style and ideal work environments in order to help you focus your career plans. The test takes about 15 minutes and costs $50.
- The MAPP™ (Motivational Appraisal Personal Potential) Career Assessment Test This site will can help pinpoint your strengths and passions, and then offer appropriate career suggestions. The free MAPP Match will offer 5 career matches, but paid packages offer as much as 30 page assessments and a unique ranking of more than 1000 career options according to your results.
- John Holland’s Self-Directed Search The idea here is that people and work environments fall into six categories: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional. The assessment will consider your aspirations, activities, competencies, interests and more to determine which category you fit into, and then suggest a list of careers most likely to align with your results. The test costs about $10.
- MyPlan.com Test your career personality, career interest, career skills and career values, each of which can help you learn more about how you handle certain work-related experiences or environments. Combine all the tests with the $20 CareerMatch™ option, which compiles data from all the tests to help rank 739 career possibilities.
- 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. The assessment digs deeper than the obvious questions so it can match who you really are.