Making a decision about career direction is one of life’s bigger game plans. After all, it is the way in which you will spend at least 8 out of 24 hours for 30 years and in some cases much more. Some career paths won’t be defined by traditional work hours and will shift directions in the course of a lifetime. How will your values influence your choice of a career path? How will your earning potential influence that choice?
In making a decision about a college major or a return to school for job changers, it is important to consider your skills, interests, natural abilities, your passion and values, and is there a market for what you see yourself doing in the future? Paying attention to the trends can be a valuable tool in determining if that degree is going to be marketable.
There are great tools to help research the trends of career markets. One is career articles on careerbuilder.com. In a recent posting they addressed the issue of marketable careers, college majors and projections of job markets to 2018. Click here for the entire article. Another is the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook at www.bls.gov/oco/. This is a great website for watching the trends of careers from six months to ten years in the future. When sites like these post their forecasts, they are depending on data to make the predictions. That data comes from experts in the field watching and collecting information from the national census, job growth or losses, geographic influences and a host of other data sources.
Recently, I have had a number of families ask, “Is it really a good idea to become a teacher if the market is so difficult and so many teachers are being laid off?” Without even beginning to talk about the student’s ability to be an effective teacher, my response was strictly about the trends. This was essentially my response…”Over 30 years I have experienced the pendulum swing from shortages of teachers to laid off teachers. When the economy of the country gets challenging and education budgets get cut, jobs are in jeopardy. But the pendulum will swing the other direction and jobs will increase. In addition, within education are the specialty areas in which there seems to always be a need…math, science and exceptional student education.” The bottom line is this, for a student entering college today; the job market today is difficult. But the market of opportunity four years from now will look quite different. By paying attention to the trends, you can begin to get a sense of where the greatest opportunities will exist both in a career field and geographically.
When you choose a college major, consider your interests, passions, abilities, values and ask yourself:
- Is that degree marketable?
- What are the career directions I can go in to use that base of knowledge?
- What are the trends for that career in one year and five years?
- What internship opportunities will be available for me to “test the waters” during my college experience?