When selecting a career path, it’s important to conduct extensive research to determine which type of job is the best choice for you. At first glance, many careers may seem exciting or fun, or they may offer high-paying salaries, but you could be disappointed or unfilled in these jobs. Performing career research can help you weigh all of the factors and options to make an informed decision.
Perform a Skills Assessment
One of the most essential factors in selecting a career path is to choose a job that aligns with your interests and talents. According to the University of North Carolina, taking self-assessment tests can help you determine the best types of jobs based on your skills, interests and personality. The Strong Interest Inventory, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Career Ability Placement Survey are just a few of the many self-assessment tests that you can take.
Consider the Working Conditions
Before you decide to embark on a career path that you think you will love, you need to consider other factors, according to Ruth Winden, an international career management consultant at Careers Enhanced. For example, if you love to travel, you may think you would enjoy a career in which traveling is a part of your job. And while that may sound initially exciting and adventurous, you may grow tired of sleeping in hotels and living out of suitcases. Winden recommends talking to people who are already in your desired career field to see what they like and don’t like about the job. For example, she says, if you have children or care for your parents, working late or on weekends, or traveling frequently may negatively affect your ability to care for them.
Evaluate the Salary
If you’ve found a job you like, with favorable working conditions, research and evaluate the salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paying careers -- which have a median annual salary of well over $100,000 -- are surgeons, orthodontists, chief executives, dentists and judges. At the other end of the spectrum, bakers, childcare workers, cooks, cashiers and floral designers earn a median annual salary that is less than $25,000. Also, some jobs pay more or less depending on the region in which you live. For example, a computer programmer job in Silicon Valley in San Francisco -- which is home to some of the biggest technology companies in the world -- would probably pay much more than the same job in a small town in Mississippi. Evaluate the salary for your chosen career to see if it will provide enough money for you to live comfortably.
Examine the Job Outlook
The job outlook for your chosen career path is another important factor that must be researched. You don’t want to choose a profession that may become extinct in the next few years. The BLS reports that the demand for personal and home health aides, meeting and convention planners, and market research analysts will grow and create thousands -- and even hundreds of thousands -- of new jobs. Conversely, the demand for postal workers, switchboard and telephone operators, semiconductor processors and desktop publishers is projected to sharply decline.
- University of North Carolina: Exploring Majors and Careers
- Interview with Ruth Winden, International Career Management Consultant
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Highest-Paying Occupations
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Occupation Finder – Less Than $25,000
- U.S. Bureau of Labor StatisticsOccupational Outlook Handbook: Projections Overview
Terri Williams began writing professionally in 1997, working with a large nonprofit organization. Her articles have appeared in various online publications including Yahoo, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report University Directory, and the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.