What factors should you consider when planning your career? Well, there are SO MANY factors to consider when choosing a career. And when you’re young, it’s a decision that weighs heavy on you. What if you make the wrong choice? What if you end up hating a job you really thought you’d love?
To help calm your nerves and give clarity, we created this guide on seven factors to consider when choosing a career. Let’s get started!
7 Important factors to consider when choosing a career
Throughout our lives, we are constantly faced with choices. Some of these choices are small and inconsequential, while others have the potential to shape our lives in profound ways. One of the most important choices we will ever make is choosing a career path.
With that in mind, you may be wondering: What are the factors to consider when choosing a career? Here are seven big ones:
1. Your passions and interests
The first factor to consider when planning a career is to think about your passions and interests. Ultimately, what makes you happy?
For example, if you're passionate about building others up, you might want to consider a career in social work or teaching. If you're excited by the prospect of travel and adventure, you might look into careers in the travel industry or the military.
And if you're motivated by the challenge of problem-solving, you might want to consider engineering or another STEM field.
No matter what your goals are, there's a career out there that's perfect for you. By taking the time to think through what you want from life, you can find the path that leads to the happiness and success you're looking for.
2. Your desired salary
What are the factors to consider when choosing a career when it comes to your salary? While it’s important to choose a career that you enjoy, you also want to make sure you’ll be able to support yourself financially.
That said, there are a number of resources you can use to evaluate salaries for different careers.
Two great places to start are Glassdoor and PayScale. These sites also have online salary calculators to help you get an idea of how much you can expect to earn based on your education, location, and experience level.
For example, if you’re interested in teaching, you may want to compare the average salaries of teachers in different states. You may also want to research the salaries of teachers at different levels (elementary, middle, and high school) and with different amounts of experience.
All of these factors will make sure you choose a career that meets your financial needs as well as your personal interests.
3. Education requirements
What are the factors to consider when choosing a career when it comes to education requirements? While some careers only require on-the-job training, others may require you to invest years (and tens of thousands of dollars) into your education.
And with the average student loan debt being around $40,000, it’s crucial to make sure the salary you can expect to earn is worth the potential debt you may have to take on.
For example, the average law student graduates with $160,000 in student loan debt. By contrast, they can expect to earn around $127,990 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Meanwhile, many real estate agents only need to pass a real estate exam to get started and can make $60,000 a year or more depending on their location.
Long story short, make sure you're aware of the upfront cost you may have to put into pursuing a particular career.
4. Work/life balance
So what are some other factors to consider when choosing a career? One you may not have thought about is work/life balance.
In today's world, it's all too easy to get caught up in the rat race and sacrifice your personal life in the name of career success. However, this can lead to burnout, health problems, and unhappiness.
Some careers are notorious for having almost no work/life balance. For instance, construction managers, lawyers, financial analysts, and doctors all usually work more than 40 hours a week.
If these hours work for you, that’s great. But if you want a job that gives you a life outside of work, you may want to consider a career with flexible hours, the option to work remotely, or ample time off. And if you have kids, there are even great jobs for stay-at-home moms.
Remember, your career should enhance your life, not consume it. By finding a good work/life balance that works for you, you can have a successful career and a rich personal life.
5. Travel requirements
Travel requirements are among the top factors you should consider when planning a career. Some jobs come with lots of travel opportunities, while others have little to no travel. Consider which type of career would match your personal lifestyle goals and preferences.
If you want to see the world, a career that involves frequent travel may be a good fit for you. This could include working in fashion, sales, event planning, or even the air travel industries.
However, if you prefer to stay closer to home, a stationary career in a field like accounting, engineering, and education (among countless others) may be a better choice.
6. Opportunities for growth and development
Another major factor you should consider when planning a career is the opportunity for growth and development. Will you be able to advance in a particular career over time, or are you likely to reach a dead end after a few years?
Some careers have very limited upward mobility, while others provide multiple opportunities for advancement.
For example, entry-level positions in many corporate environments offer the potential to move up the ladder into management roles. In contrast, jobs that are based on hourly wages often have little room for advancement. Other careers, such as entrepreneurship, offer unlimited potential for growth.
As you weigh your options, research how much room for growth and development a prospective career path has. That way you know what to expect five, ten, or fifteen years from now.
7. Job market outlook
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a career is the job market outlook. The last thing you want to do is invest your time, money, and energy into a career that isn't going to be in demand. So, for this next tip, research the job market in your chosen career field.
Luckily, there are a number of websites to help you do this:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a great place to start. It provides detailed information on employment trends and projections. Simply enter your desired job title into the search engine, and you'll be able to see how the job market is expected to change in the coming years.
Glassdoor and CareerBuilder
Glassdoor and CareerBuilder are other great resources for researching job market outlooks. In addition to providing insights from current and former employees, they offer data on things like average salary and benefits.
Combined, this information can be invaluable in helping you choose a career path that’s not only personally satisfying but also has good long-term prospects.
Words of wisdom: What factors should you consider when planning a career?
So what factors should you consider when planning a career? Beyond these seven factors, I have some great advice for any young woman who feels overwhelmed trying to figure it all out:
Do what makes you happy
First and foremost, follow your heart and do what makes you happy. Far too often, people choose a career based on external factors such as money or prestige.
While these factors to consider when choosing a career may provide some level of satisfaction in the beginning, they aren't likely to lead to lasting happiness. Instead, focus on what truly brings you joy when choosing a career. It's what will matter most in the end.
Be open to trying new things
Trying new things is also an important part of finding a job you love. It's okay to pivot a few times before landing on your perfect match.
For example, I started my career as an academic advisor at a university. I loved helping students plan out their class schedules and stay on track for graduation. But after two years, I realized I would never make the amount of money I needed to feel financially secure.
So, I decided to try something new. I broke into freelance copywriting and have since spent years building up my career. Now, I absolutely love what I do and make more money than I could have ever earned as an academic advisor.
And who knows, maybe one day I'll try something new again. The important thing is to be open to new experiences and to never stop learning.
Know that it’s okay if you don’t do what you went to college for
Lastly, know that it's okay if you end up doing something totally different than what you went to college for. It’s okay if you never have the “perfect” career in mind. Very few people stay in their first-choice career forever.
Over time, you get a better sense of what you like and dislike. And as that happens, it's okay to adjust course if you find out a particular career isn’t for you.
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These are the top factors to consider when choosing a career!
In conclusion, there are seven main factors to consider when choosing a career. But each one will rank differently on your personal scale of importance. Maybe your top priority is finding a job that pays to travel. Or maybe it's finding a job that doesn't require a degree.
Whatever it is, focus on the factors that matter most to you — and know that Clever Girl Finance has plenty of resources to help along the way.
From 100% free courses on finding a higher-paying job and increasing income streams to helpful YouTube videos and podcast episodes, we've got all the financial literacy tools to help you win. Check them out and know we're here to support you on your journey toward a brighter financial future!