When you’re a child, everyone asks you “what do you want to be when you grow up?” As a five or ten-year-old, your answer changes every five minutes, from astronaut to magician. But as you get older, people start expecting you to have ambitions and a real idea of where your career is heading. In fact, by the time you hit your teens, you’re already being badgered about what you want to do once you finish high school and then college. But the truth is that even if we do settle on a career path right out of school, we’re unlikely to stay on the same track for the rest of our lives. Many people have changed their minds several times before even graduating from college. And even if you have a firm idea of what you want to do, and you work toward it, you might want a change a few years down the line.
It’s becoming more common to change careers more often. Lots of recent college graduates have preferred to try out a few different jobs before settling into a more steady career. But starting and changing new careers often means making sure you have the right qualifications. Your first career is the most important. Often once you’ve had a steady job, your skills will translate into a new field. But without those important first qualifications to get you started, you might be stuck with nowhere to go. And some career changes will require that you go back to education, for additional training or even to do another degree. The last thing you want is to find that you have completely the wrong qualifications for your desired career. So where do you get started with making sure you’re prepared for that job you want?
Choose Flexible Qualifications
One of the options if you want to be able to change career without going back into training or education is to pick a degree that could be useful in several different fields. You might think that these qualifications are limited. But there are lots of subjects you can study that aren’t so highly specific they only lead to one job. Even qualifications in technical subjects like the sciences can lead you to different paths. For example, with a chemistry degree you could work in teaching. But you could also work in research in either academia or business or even in product development.
You are rarely limited to just one field, especially at Bachelor degree level. As a general rule, however, humanities subjects can be a lot more flexible than the sciences. Many humanities subjects are more important for the skills they teach, rather than the course content. So a history or English degree could lead you toward careers involving communication, either through public speaking or the written word.
Narrow Your Choices
Although you don’t have to know what you want to do for the rest of your life, it’s a good idea to try and narrow your choices somewhat. Without at least some idea of the direction you’re going in, you could end up just wandering aimlessly. By picking a few career paths that you’re interested in, you can look at college requirements and what employers look for in potential employees for each role. You don’t want to begin your time at college with only a vague idea of what you want to do, only to reach graduation with a clear idea but the wrong qualifications.
Choose Your Interests
When it comes to choosing your ideal job and the qualifications that will lead you to them, always choose based on what interests you. This is especially vital if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to do. You might not have narrowed down your goals yet, but you do know what you enjoy learning about. Even if your career goals are as vague as “I want to help people”, it helps you to start working toward your future career without knowing what it is. It might be tempting to choose qualifications that you think will get you a job. But the truth is that you can’t predict what will be in demand when you finish studying. So it’s best to go with what you love and build on your employability from there.
Do Your Research
It’s essential that you do your research where required qualifications are concerned, especially if you have a specific job in mind. You don’t want to choose a career field then realize that you have the wrong qualifications, and it’s too late to start again. Of course, you can always go back to school, but you don’t want to do it as soon as you’ve graduated. Unless, of course, you’re doing a further qualification.
There are lots of ways to research the required qualifications for any role. You can talk to a guidance counselor or career office at school or college, who can give you advice. The internet is also extremely helpful, and there are many websites with job profiles from hundreds of different careers. Don’t just research the qualifications you need, but which establishments employers look at favorably and provide the best courses. Look at college websites like westlondoncollege.com and review their course content to see how it matches up with the work you want to do.
Your Options Are Open
Remember that you can always change your mind. It might be expensive, and it might take time, but if you need to retrain for a new career then you can do it. Many positions won’t require you to have certain qualifications once you’ve been working for several years. If you can show that your skills translate to the new role, your qualifications are less important. But other career fields will need you to go back into education or do some extra studying. Just remember that it’s never too late to switch careers.