How to Choose a Career or Profession? 2024 Guide

When we were kids, choosing a career seemed easier. We had big dreams, everything felt simple, and even the sky was not the limit for most of us. 

However, when it comes to actually building a career as a grown-up, finding a realistic career path and a promising job is challenging and stressful. 

Selecting a job that suits our goals and interests takes time. In our quest to pick a career that suits us the most, we often switch from one job to another multiple times in our professional lives. 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) conducted a survey, concluding that people born between 1957 and 1964 had an average of 12.4 jobs between the ages of 18 and 54. Another data from a different survey revealed that now people stick to a job for around four years. 

There can be several reasons to change careers. We may realize that a certain industry is not for us or that the growth scope is not as great as we thought. We sometimes don’t find motivation in our current role and decide to change. 

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Irrespective of the reason, finding the right career takes time and patience. The big question is how can you choose a career that works the best for you. If you are also exploring different career paths to attain your goals, we have listed seven ways to help you determine the most suitable career path for you. 

Also read: 10 Highest-Paying IT Jobs & Careers for 2024 and Future

How to Choose a Career That’s Best for You?

Selecting the right career means learning as much as possible about yourself, your goals, and your aspirations. Here are seven effective steps to help you select career that is best for you. 

  1. Assess Yourself and Your Interests
  2. Decide on What Motivates You
  3. Take a Self-assessment Test
  4. Research Your Career Options
  5. Explore Different Sectors  
  6. Set Long-term and Realistic Goals
  7. Seek Professional Guidance

1. Assess Yourself and Your Interests

Before you start exploring career options, it’s crucial to learn about yourself and your interests and skills. You need to know what you enjoy doing, what intrigues you, what you value, what suits your personality and preferences, what you expect from your career, and more. 

Here, we are not talking about your passion or hobby because that can often create confusion. We are focusing on what makes you feel excited and energized. For this, you must assess your soft skills, values, appropriate career choices, etc. 

You can use various career tests and self-assessment tools to understand your traits and find the paths that are a good fit for you. Answer the following questions related to your skills, interests, and values to learn more about yourself:

  • What are the strengths that you like and enjoy the most?
  • What are the skills you are proud of?
  • What do you like to do often?
  • How do you like to spend your free time?
  • Do you like working inside or outside?
  • What do you like to learn about?
  • Do you enjoy mental exercise or physical work?
  • What do you value the most in life?
  • What are the changes you want to bring around?
  • What are your priorities?
  • What are the things that provide meaning to your life?

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2. Decide on What Motivates You

Now that you know yourself better, it’s time to find what motivates you and what you are passionate about. Many times, your needs and wants represent your professional ideas and aspirations. For example, you might want a flexible job that allows you to work from anywhere, or you may just want a high-paying job

Your career and job will consume most of your time while providing certain benefits and compensations in return. Hence, we recommend jotting down the pros and cons, salary packages, market trends, future scope, commitment required, opportunities for growth, and ability to bring the change. 

Consider your desires and passions as you pick a career that you love. Analyzing your motivations will help you find a job where you can give your best and add value. 

You should also include activities you enjoy. There’s no single career path that is perfect for you. Explore several choices, resources they need, and why each is ideal for you. Remember that you won’t like all the options listed, but it’s important to include them so you know what’s not right for you and understand your priorities. 

Arrange all the factors, options, and elements in a specific order, from the most important to the least important. Here is an example of critical components to include in your list and organize your priorities:

  • Work/life balance
  • Salary  
  • Benefits
  • Career growth 
  • Autonomy
  • Flexibility  

3. Take Self-assessment Tests

One key factor to consider while choosing the right career for yourself is your personality. There are various self-assessment and personality tests designed to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. You can determine the best career to pursue, industry that suits your interests, and roles that are good fit for you. 

You can work on your weaknesses and make the most of your strengths. Based on the test results, you can also find suitable opportunities and explore them to discover growth potential. 

Make sure these tests help you assess and review your character, aptitude, emotional intelligence, and interests. Also, these tests can be prescriptive to a certain extent. So, don’t rely on them completely; use them to learn more about yourself and unfold a bigger picture. 

Here are a few tests to enable you to select your career and professional path:

True Colors Test- This assessment aims to help participants find out what type of learner, thinker, and planner they are. The results categorize participants based on four different personality colors, each suggesting personal and professional options aligned with their colors.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator- This personality test includes around 90 questions related to eight primary elements of a human’s character. The results are presented in a four-letter code, enabling participants to decide on subjects to study, type of work environment suitable for them, and career options to pursue. 

HIGH5 Test- This is a small 20-minute test that allows you to assess your professional strengths and weaknesses. Based on 100 questions, it summarizes your personality and suggests the right careers that fit your goals, attitude, and abilities. 

The Birkman Method– This assessment test measures social awareness, personality traits, and potential professional inclination. It includes around 300 questions to analyze a participant’s behavior patterns and interpersonal skills and recommend the best career choices.

Keirsey Temperament Sorter- It is a questionnaire that assesses behavior and personality based on 16 factors and assigns participants one main temperament type and one secondary temperament type. Based on the results, you can find which careers are best for you.

Also read: How to Improve Communication Skills? For Professionals & At Workplace

4. Research Your Career Options

After following the above-mentioned steps, you probably have narrowed down approx 15-20 options for yourself. Your self-assessment tests must have generated multiple lists of occupations for you based on different traits and factors. 

Now, it’s time to get more organized, combine these results into one master list, and explore all the top options. Get basic information about each option, including job descriptions, educational and professional eligibility, salary packages, scope, growth opportunities, etc. 

Conduct primary research online to find which option appeals to you the most. There might be fields that you don’t know much about but can be suitable for you. So, dive deeper and learn as much as you can. You can also ask people around you to know their experience in a field. 

As you find the career that’s right for you, here are the four primary points to consider during your research:

Work-life Balance- Work-life balance has gained a lot of attention over the last few years. It refers to the difference between the time and energy people devote to work vs. the time and energy they invest in their personal lives. People have become more aware of their work-life balance, ensuring they give enough time to work while fulfilling their family and social commitments. They want to take time for personal obligations, leisure, and work.

Job Requirements- Every job role has a set of educational and professional requirements that candidates must meet. These criteria can include academic degree, experience, license, etc. Go through these requirements to narrow down your options.

Long-term and Short-term Goals- Your goals can include your aspirations, objectives, hopes, and expectations from your life and career. Review the goals you have set for yourself as you make your decision.

Job Satisfaction- It means the feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment one feels from one’s work and career. Your job satisfaction comprises various factors related to salary packages, work environment, job benefits, and work relationships. 

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5. Explore Different Sectors and Industries

You can work in different sectors, such as public, private, and non-profit. Learn about each to find out which is the right fit for you and can help you meet your goals. 

As each of these sectors has its benefits and drawbacks, conduct detailed research to determine which one interests you the most. For example, the public sector offers jobs in local, state, or central government, including public institutions and organizations. These jobs offer great stability and job security. On the other hand, the private sector includes jobs in MNCs, startups, and privately owned businesses that aim to increase revenue and profits. These jobs may not ensure stability but have excellent growth potential. The non-profit sector aims to serve the community and make enough money to achieve its mission and cover overhead expenses. Jobs in this sector provide meaning. 

For all the aspirants who wonder ‘how to know which career is best for me?’, we would suggest exploring different industries and domains along with sectors. There are various established industries that are worth investing your time and effort in, such as media and entertainment, IT, marketing, etc. For example, the healthcare industry offers various job roles across different domains, such as nurses, pharmacists, HR, etc. Similarly, the IT industry offers job roles to software engineers, designers, developers, data analysts, researchers, etc. 

6. Set Long-term and Realistic Goals

What’s your idea of a perfect life? What do you want to achieve in life? List your long-term goals, including professional and personal, to understand what you need to achieve them. This will also help you find a job in a suitable field and pursue the required education and training. 

For example, if you want to work as a freelancer, you might have to create an impressive portfolio and make a network to find clients. Similarly, to land a job in a top company, you need to pursue a degree course from a recognized institute. 

Achieving a long-term goal requires at least 3 to 5 years and a lot of research to guide you in the right direction. Collect all the necessary details to make informed and wise decisions.

Another vital point to remember while setting your goals is feasibility. To determine which career is best for me and set your goals, ensure they are realistic and achievable. 

For example, if you plan to live with your family, you can’t apply for jobs that are abroad or jobs that may require you to move to another country in the future. Moreover, if you want to work in the same industry for the next 10-15 years, it must have the potential to grow and not be affected by automation or other factors. Also, if you want to pursue a degree or course that spans 3-4 years and has an age limit, your age must be suitable for that. 

Being realistic doesn’t mean you have to compromise on your enthusiasm and interest. It just means adjusting your goals according to the situation to avoid any hassle or struggle in the future. 

Also read: Top 15 Highest Paying Jobs in India for 2024 (Revealed)

7. Seek Professional Guidance

While narrowing down your career choices, it’s always best to get in touch with professionals from different industries and companies to seek their advice. You can talk to your mentors and teachers as they have hands-on experience and know their fields. 

Talk to them about your goals, the industry you are considering joining, and your expectations. When you discuss with someone you trust, you can better organize your thoughts and gain clarity. You can also get helpful insights that make your decisions easier. 

You can also expand your LinkedIn network to connect with professionals and experts from different industries. Send them a brief message asking for professional guidance; many will be willing to share their experience. 

Contact a career coach if you want to know what field suits you. However, finding the right coach requires extensive research and a background check, so ensure that you connect with the right person who can help you in the best way possible. 

When you interact with knowledgeable people who have worked for years in an industry, you get candid opinions and responses, which can be quite useful. You will know which fields are interesting and which may get boring after a point. Also, you will get to know the scope for growth and job opportunities. 

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FAQs Related to How to Choose a Career

How to make a successful career once I know what I want?

Once you know what you want to pursue as a career, follow the mentioned steps to prepare yourself and seek the right job:

-Build a solid resume
-Prepare for interviews
-Opt for internship

What are the four Ps of choosing the right career path?

The four significant Ps that every aspirant and job seeker must consider while choosing a career are people, product, purpose, and potential. 

What are the essential steps to find the right career?

As you start your journey to finding the right career path for you, these following steps will help you stay on the right track and pave your way easily:
-Find your interests 
-Analyze your personality and capabilities
-Explore available options
-Research different career options
-Set achievable goals
-Seek career guidance

What’s the best way to build professional skills and acquire knowledge?

If you want to build professional skills and be career-ready, we would recommend joining a skill development course, such as a web development course, digital marketing course, ethical hacking course, SEO course, content writing course, etc. These training programs help learners get practical knowledge and hands-on experience in any field and build a portfolio even before starting their careers.

What are the best industries for a lucrative career?

India is known for offering promising and lucrative career choices across multiple industries. Top industries known for high-paying jobs are healthcare, engineering, digital marketing, data scientist, and finance.

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There is no fixed formula or path to finding the right career. This process can be daunting and demanding. However, with self-reflection, clearly defined objectives, and open-mindedness, you can determine the job that’s best for you. Assess your skills and interests and have a plan to pave the way and build a rewarding career. 

As you try to know which career is right for me, make sure to do your research and then zero in on the options that meet your professional, personal, and financial goals. You may not succeed at first but keep trying, and your hard work will pay off. 

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  • Ashima Jain

    Ashima Jain is a Content Editor and Strategist at WsCube Tech and has been in the content marketing industry for 6 years. She is a writer by day and a reader by night. It was actually her love for reading that made her try her hands at writing. She has completed her postgraduation in Economics and Financial Management and has also done diploma courses in Journalism and Digital Marketing. When not working, you can find her in a cafe enjoying a cup of joe and a book.