Are you considering going back to school? Maybe you’re thinking about a career change or looking for a way to get ahead in your current career. Whatever the reason, furthering your education is rarely a bad idea. Determining your educational path is a lot like mapping out a road trip. If you have a destination in mind, you can figure out a route, estimate how long your trip will take, and the gather resources you need to get from Point A to Point B. So before you rush out and enroll at a four year university or sign up for a trade school certification course, tap the brakes for a moment and consider your career destination before you set off down a particular education path.
Determine Your Career Destination
Deciding what you’d like to do is the first step. If you’re passionate about a particular career, you’re one step closer to your destination. The next step is to find out the level of education required for your dream job. A quick internet search will give you the answer. In your favorite search engine, enter the job or career title, your location and words like “training” or “education.” If you’re undecided, you have a little work to do. Ask yourself, “What am I good at?” Think of skills you already possess and how to apply them to jobs or careers that interest you. Take time to explore promising career opportunities. A good resource is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their occupational outlook section is packed with helpful information like the fastest growing jobs and jobs with the highest projected number of new openings. Similar information for the Canadian job market can be found at the Statistics Canada Labour website.
Things to Consider
If you’re still undecided about which direction to go, asking yourself a few key questions may help make things a bit clearer. A good start is to decide what you want to do, what you’re willing to do, and what you won’t do. Make a list to help narrow down your choices.
- Are you willing to relocate? Your skills and talents may be in demand in a location where the job market is stronger. Also, depending on where you live, you may have to relocate in order to get the education or training you need.
- How much time can you devote to education? Earning a degree from a university will most likely take longer than achieving a certification from a career tech. Consider the time it will take to get the education or training required.
- How will you pay for your education? Weigh the cost of education versus the earning potential. Explore the possibility for scholarships, grants, and student loans. Decide how much debt you’re comfortable with in order to gain the education you need.
Choose Your Route
Now that you’ve decided on your destination, it’s time to map out your route. The type of job or career you choose will play a major role in determining your educational path. In some cases, you may have more than one choice, such as choosing whether to attend a university as opposed to a community college. Or whether to go to a trade school or a career tech. No matter which path you choose, often, the most difficult part of the journey is summoning the courage to begin. Have confidence in your decision. Seek guidance and encouragement from friends, family, and mentors. Then get on the road to a promising future!
Have you taken any steps to further your education? What advice would you give to someone considering a career change? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below!