From the time a child enters preschool, parents and teachers begin asking a common question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  For young students, the responses are pretty common; a teacher, a doctor, a policeman, a ballerina, or a firefighter to name a few.  Not many children want to be something technical such as a radiation therapist or financial analyst.  However, it’s never too early to begin asking this question of yourself!

Thinking about future careers should not be limited to just one conversation. It’s important to begin dreaming and planning for life after high school.  Because the process can be overwhelming, the following factors and tools might help you narrow down your career path:college_grads

Dream big!

Start to dream about the type of person you would like to be. Dream about the community you’ll reside in, the size of family you would like, the house you’d like to own, and the lifestyle you want to live! Use Reality Check  to help you realize costs associated with particular lifestyles. This tool considers the big picture such as food, housing, transportation, utilities, insurance, taxes and clothing.

Follow your interests.

What is it that captures your attention?  What subjects do you excel at in school?  Choosing a career path should be associated with your interests and strengths.  Think about the things that you enjoy doing.  Are you interested in helping people?  Do you like working with your hands — or writing?  Are you a math whiz?  Focusing on your interests and asking yourself some questions will help you to narrow down your options for a future career.

Keep an open mind.

You may be thinking about a career in something such as nursing, however there are many branches of nursing that you can explore.  Jobs such as a nurse anesthetist, a nursing educator, or a forensic nurse require specialized training beyond the traditional nursing degree. Many jobs that people have today did not exist when they were younger, so don’t limit your career choice!  Ask your school counselor about interest inventories such as Career Cruising, or whatever your school has available.

Get the required education.

Knowing what type of education or training is needed for various careers will help you plan for your future.   Some jobs don’t require a college degree, however specialized training or apprenticeship may be needed.  Careers such as teaching require approximately four years of college, including student teaching.  Speech pathology requires six years of education and training, and pharmacy requires seven years of post-secondary education plus a year of rotation/training.  Consider if you are willing to dedicate yourself to the number of years of education and/or training required to reach your desired career.

Consider the benefits of college.

Education beyond high school will allow you to be more selective in the type of career you desire, and it will open up more possibilities.  College will allow for specialized training, which will help you adapt more easily to the type of job you will be performing.  One exciting aspect of college is that it exposes you to various subjects, which can trigger a passion for something you never expected!

Even if you declare a major going into college and determine that it isn’t what you expected, or you find something that you are more passionate about, you are entitled to change your mind.  Many colleges encourage students to take general courses the first few semesters, to get a feel for where they are headed before introducing them to specialized courses.  Therefore, if you decide to change your major, you haven’t wasted your time, money and hard work. As you consider your future, enlist the help of your family, friends and school counselor to guide and encourage you.  Also, check out our website for further information on specific colleges, funding your education and helpful tools to assist you along the way.