Steps to Take Before Choosing a Career

Prior to pursuing a specific career path you should learn about the job responsibilities, employment opportunities, and training or education requirements for any career you're considering. Follow these steps to narrow potential career options:

1. Assess yourself - Each individual is unique. They have different goals, talents, interests, and values. In other words, what's right or one person may not be right for another. While one person may find a specific career to be extremely exciting and stimulating, another may find the same career to be boring and tedious. Discover what you enjoy and excel at by taking career assessments, receiving career counseling, and conducting a self-evaluation.

2. Make a list of potential occupations - After conducting a thorough self assessment, the types of careers you can pursue should become more apparent. However, it is not possible to every career of interest, so put together a list of 5 to 10 careers that match your interests, talents, skills and values based on your self assessment.

3. Explore the options - After developing your list explore each career in detail. Be sure to learn about educational or training requirements, job duties, employment outlook, annual earnings, and promotion opportunities associated with each career path. Research can be performed using the Internet, but try to meet with professionals in each field to obtain in-depth details and first hand information about each career. If don't know professionals in these fields, contact willing participants by email or phone and schedule informational interviews. However, you will probably find that you have relatives, colleagues, and school mates currently working in many fields that interest you. During each informational interview, collect details about annual salary, employment prospects, and entry-level employment requirements. It's not recommended to request employment during these interviews, but take advantage of networking opportunities.

4. Narrow down your list - Eliminate careers that no longer interest you after thoroughly reviewing each one. Many people become dissuaded from pursuing a career after learning about education requirements, annual earnings, and declining industry growth. Once you've become acquainted with each career, narrow your list to 1-2 options.

5. Set goals - After your list has been narrowed, establish attainable goals. You should be informed enough now to establish short and long term goals. Typically, short-term goals can be met within 1-3 years and long-term between 3-5 years. It's not always easy to reach each of your career goal, so be prepared to work hard, make adjustments when necessary, and remain committed. Goals are typically achievable when they're defined, flexible, realistic, and attainable within a specified time period.

6. Create a career action plan - Once you've established career goals, begin developing a career action plan that consists yours goals and specific steps you'll take to reach each goal. Additionally, career action plans contain possible obstacles, steps to address them, and resources that can be utilized when additional assistance is needed. Your career action plan should clearly define how you'll obtain required training or education, entry-level employment, and continue developing professionally once you've gotten started in your new career.

7. Obtain training - Obtaining the training and education required for your profession will probably consume the majority of your time and efforts as you pursue a career. Depending on the career, you may be required to earn a college degree, complete vocational training, learn new skills, or complete an apprentice or internship.

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