When it comes to choosing a career, the decision can be so complex and challenging. There are a lot of criteria you may want to put into consideration in making that decision.
Almost everyone has had to struggle with making the decision for their career. I especially don’t know anyone who was spared. However, a very obvious observation you can see is how people would settle with whatever career they finally decide to pursue, irrespective of how that decision was made.
Many people have based their career decisions on very trivial criteria that shouldn’t matter so much when there are more important criteria to consider in making this decision. with the right information on the criteria to consider when choosing a career, you would be spared from making wrong career choices, especially those that will affect your life for a long time.
Education in Career Decision-making
We all have one life to live; I doubt if there is any spare life somewhere, but when it comes to the criteria to consider when choosing a career, many people end up doing things based on society’s desires and less on their own happiness.
Current educational systems are designed to train students along a given career path as they grow. They attempt to incorporate vocational, intellectual, as well as critical thinking skills into the curricula, however, the reality of education in most parts of the world is far from this ideal.
While education remains an essential aspect of career building, it was supposed to build into you the capability of further learning to be able to engage in your independently chosen career, and not necessarily fixing one’s gaze on specialities restricted to the degree(s) obtained.
As an example, someone with an educational qualification in the sciences must have been taught some practical applications of arts and humanities in the sciences, and vice-versa. Someone in the arts must also develop a good understanding of the practical applications of mathematics in their vocation.
The sum-total of these results in an individual that is holistic in their approach to problem-solving and thus capable of becoming the best version of themselves. Unfortunately, this is not the status quo today. Students are made to believe that education is just a means to become employable in a particular discipline, without being able to explore others or their passions.
Parental Influence on Career Decisions
In reality, parental influence is probably a common criterion for making career decisions by most people. Many people do what they currently do because their parents wished that for them. In many cases, the chosen career aligned with their own passions, in other cases, it created a struggle between self-identity and parental desires.
Parents want their children to become revered professionals and earn huge incomes from their careers, hence, they might want to force you to choose one career or another. But as you advance in age and experience, you begin to realise that there is more to choosing a career than just parental pressures.
While they mean well to you, there are more important criteria to consider when choosing a career, especially one of a lifetime.
Society’s Influence on Choice of Career
Just before we look at the important criteria to consider when choosing a career, what role does society play in influencing people’s choice of career?
Every now and then, society reserves some professions as honourable, noble, and dignified, and this creates a flux of people into those professional areas until they become overwhelmed or replaced by a new preference. Some years back, teaching was regarded as the noblest profession, encouraging many to become teachers. Shortly after, this was replaced by the medical profession.
Just to acknowledge, a few years back, Ben Carson’s book, “The Gifted Hands” drafted many people into becoming doctors until very recently. Today, societal trends in terms of career preferences are changing. But while one professional preference persists, it grossly impacts the choice of career by many people in society.
7 Important Criteria to Consider When Choosing a Career
Important determinants of the viability of a career include the lucrativeness of the career, and its social relevance, amongst others. Here, we will look into 7 of the most important criteria you should consider when choosing a new career.
1. Your passions and interests
Your passions and interests should be one of the major criteria you should consider when choosing a career. The reasons are quite obvious.
First, your passions are the things that give you the greatest satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment in life. They are your inner drive and energy, especially at work when other conditions are not favourable.
Among the most important criteria for choosing a career, passion should be number one. But several other influences, some of which you have seen above, have succeeded in clouding most people’s passion as it relates to their choice of career.
It’s quite easy to know what things you are passionate about but sometimes this can be a difficult situation. Discovering your passions is a part of the process of self-discovery, and it begins with providing answers to some of these questions; “What things do you love doing? What can you do even when you are not being paid? What picture do you have of your life 10-20 years from now?”
For example, if you picture yourself discussing business arrangements or connecting people to businesses, it means you have a passion for some form of business and you should engage in career opportunities that help build you to the attainment of that goal.
Along the way, there are some transitional career opportunities you may need to take. These are not the definitive career you desire but they are a means to an end. You need to realize that achieving your desired career does not happen overnight.
2. Your life’s purpose
This important criterion for choosing a career is almost like the passion discussed above but it’s slightly different. Your life’s purpose is the divine reason for your existence as a human. Everyone on the surface of the earth has a reason for their existence. We just need to discover it and walk along its path.
Your choice of career determines a lot about your life in general. For example, if you choose to become a musician, this can affect your way of life and personal idiosyncracies, so much that if this can hamper your found life’s purpose, you may need to reconsider.
Many people jump into careers just because they are lucrative and popular, but it is important to factor in your life’s purpose as well as your passions in choosing a career, especially a new one.
3. Desired salary or income
Believe it or not, salary is one of the important criteria in choosing a career. Every career belongs to a broad career field. You would have to narrow down your choice to a subset of the entire career area.
For example, the digital economy is a new career area comprising digital methods of making money in this modern century. But it is a vast area comprising sub-areas including digital marketing, programming (freelancing), copywriting, graphic designs, influencer marketing, SEO writing, and so on. The list is endless.
In a case where many sub-areas of the career field resonate well with you and your passions, you might need to factor in another important criterion – which is your desired salary or income scale.
How much do you desire to earn in a year at the peak of your career? According to Salary.com, an average SEO Writer earns between $45,540 and $55,480 in the United States. An average 3D Animator III earns between $82,600 and $102,100. Salary.com is an HR-report-based career analysis website. Visit to compare and analyse the potential salary of your competing career choices now.
4. Educational requirements
Educational requirement is an important criterion in choosing your definitive career. Ask questions like how many educational certifications are required for me to attain the highest level in this career. How much of it do you already have?
For most self-employed and managed careers that are becoming predominant today, educational degrees are no longer as important as they used to be. However, if you desire to climb the corporate ladder in your chosen profession or career, you might need to get more recognizable and relevant degrees in that area.
If you are quite advanced in age with no desire to further your education any longer, you are left with the option of choosing a career that can sufficiently grow with your existing qualifications or experience.
It is important to consider this criterion from the start so that you don’t encounter an insurmountable roadblock later in your career. Hence, I am listing this here as one of the important criteria to consider when choosing a career.
5. Work-life balance
Personally, I value a healthy work-life and work-family balance a lot. I don’t believe in working a job that totally sacrifices your life and family in the name of making ends meet. While every job demands some time from your life and family, some are considerably worse. However, it is important to try to establish some balance.
Unlike me, someone else may not bother so much about family or life balance as long as the pay is pretty adequate. Not a problem, but it’s just about setting your own priorities right. If this is what you want, work towards this, otherwise, find a different path.
6. Inborn talents and gifts
What is one important criterion to consider in choosing a career most people have neglected? It is most likely inborn talents and gifts. Walking in the path of your passions and inborn talents makes the journey so interesting and enjoyable. Taking any other path makes it feel like swimming against the high tide.
Your inborn talents and gifts are those things you don’t struggle so much to do. You didn’t have to learn to do it before you started doing them.
Inborn talents are like skills that you learn, only that you don’t learn them that way. They came to be a part of you as you grew older from birth.
It is not often so hard to know what your inborn talents and gifts are. You probably have told someone about them before. The only thing you often don’t realize is that you should consider them when choosing your career, or your new career.
Scalability defines how useful and relevant you will be if you continue in your current career path for the next twenty years. The world of work is constantly evolving. Careers are changing, and new ones are being invented. Scalability, as one of the important criteria to consider in choosing a career, answers the question, “Will you remain valuable through these changes”?
Scalable careers are those that require years of work with a modest financial reward but with an outside chance of a disproportionately large payoff. Workers in these careers may currently earn a relatively small income from their work but there is no ceiling to their earning potential, unlike for some non-scalable professions today.
Professionals in scalable professions have the potential to earn way beyond what is expected particularly if they hit the jackpot. By hitting the jackpot, I refer to a major breakthrough that they might have been working for all through the years.
Entrepreneurship has been considered the holy grail of scalable professions. Other examples include a next-gen research scientist in search of next-generation antibiotics, an artist, an app developer, etc. These individuals may earn significantly less than a lawyer currently but scalability gives them future relevance within or outside their work.
Scalability ensures your lifelong relevance and profitability. Therefore, it is one of the important criteria to consider when choosing your career.
Can I combine a job with a side passion interest?
Along the way, the criteria to consider in choosing a career might create another difficulty for you. You want to work in a high-paying firm that is not related to your passions but you also want to pursue your passions some other way.
That is very allowed. You can combine your high-paying or secure job with your passion interest. As a matter of fact, this approach is what is being recommended in this new age of work since the great resignation and the COVID pandemic.
Many people lost their jobs during the pandemic, rendering many families poor and unable to meet basic needs. This awakened everyone to the consciousness that you can’t depend only on a job that does not consider your passions while you allow your passions to rot in the grave. People started empowering themselves with what they love doing and what they find easiest to do.
Be open to doing new things
Along the way to attaining your career dreams, you get involved in other unrelated career activities. For example, you might become a cleaner at some point before you eventually become the big lawyer you’ve ever dreamt of becoming.
Being open to new things also entails that you stay willing to learn new skills outside of your current proficiencies. Many people are scared to learn new things, particularly when it seems difficult, but to maintain your relevance and earning potential, you must stay open to doing new things.
You may have migrated to a new location that forces you to work outside your qualifications. For example, as a young medical doctor, you may be assigned some menial jobs in a new hospital you resumed at.
Of course, you didn’t graduate from medical school to end up carrying equipment from one end to another, but thinking of it as a process keeps you open to doing new things and expanding your professional scope.
Whichever passion or skills you currently have, they can be a baseline for developing other new abilities. No knowledge or skill is wasted but if you are not open enough to acquire new skills, you miss out on becoming truly holistic.
The most important criteria to consider when choosing a career turns out to be some of the things we neglect in our day-to-day career decision-making. Thankfully, I have summed up a number of important criteria that should guide you in choosing your career today.
Decisions regarding a career, especially one of a lifetime, can be particularly difficult to make. Hence, I hereby documented a list of important criteria to consider when choosing your career. I hope it was helpful.
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