It has to be done, sooner or later you will have to join a profession of some sort. This post will guide you through this process of finding the right career choice that fits you and your specific needs.

1. Every journey needs a map

If you’re starting from scratch I would advice you to begin by first constructing a mindmap, the basics of this has been discussed in length in our article on how to mindmap. Put the word ‘career choice‘ in the middle and write down the ideas that pop up in your head.

Don’t be too picky in the beginning, you need to establish all occupations that you wouldn’t have anything against pursuing. Once you have a tangible list you can then start to rank the different alternatives and discard those who need to be discarded.

2. Where to get ideas

There are numerous brochures, pamphlets and other information products out there designed to introduce you to their respective profession. These can be found online, in the public library or at the career service at your particular learning institution. Search around and you’ll find plenty.

Once you’ve looked through all the main options you can move on to ranking them in order of preference.

3. Use a matrix

A matrix is simple put a type of chart. You can use a matrix to rank your different ideas. The career that fits you the best gets a ‘1’ while the one that fits you the worst gets a ’10’ (or the other way around, whatever makes you happy) and the ones that should be discarded gets a ‘0’. You can do this in an excel file (leave a comment if you want me to upload a basic template for this) which makes it easier to sort automatically to see which one suits you the best.

4. Finding your passion

Don’t just pick something simply because your friends picked it too. Find something that is great, something that is for you, something that you could see yourself waking up to every morning without feeling disgruntled.

5. Average salary for your desired occupation

As we concluded in our article on how to choose a major, money is indeed funny. Don’t get limited by money but at the same time it shouldn’t be neglected. You should have a realistic and clear idea of what your starting salary could turn out to be. There are many different sites that offer free statistics on average salaries, do keep in mind though that these are averages and an average doesn’t tell you the whole picture.

For instance the chart below shows 5 different people working in the same field with approximately the same level of experience. The average salary in both these examples are 60,000 USD/year, however as you can see the second one has a greater disparity in its results than the first one. Mathematically this is visualized by means of the variance or the standard mean. This is important because some careers have a higher disparity in their averages and you need to keep this in mind.

Job 1Salary Job 1Job 2Salary Job 2
Person 160,000 USD/yearPerson 140,000 USD/year
Person 250,000 USD/yearPerson 275,000 USD/year
Person 355,000 USD/yearPerson 3
30,000 USD/year
Person 475,000 USD/yearPerson 4135,000 USD/year
Person 560,000 USD/yearPerson 520,000 USD/year
Sample Total: 5 peopleAverage: 60,000 USD/yearSample Total: 5 peopleAverage: 60,000 USD/year

For some careers you make approximately the same sum of money regardless of how many years you have practiced that field while in most other fields in tends to grow in relation to the number of years of experience. Also some occupations such as medicine may have a higher average salary than that of computer engineering for instance but the disparity is far greater in the latter as you’ll find a lot more billionaires in the latter category.

6. Aggregation

According to Princeton University’s WordNet aggregation is defined as several things grouped together or considered as a whole. The reason I’m mentioning this word is as follows; once you’ve measured how much you think a given occupation suits you, how much your family and friends think it suits you, how great you think that occupation is and how high the salary is (and other important factors) you can then attempt to weigh these different sets of data into one single number (e.g. giving you a score of 9.5 or 7.2).

Finding a correct algorithm to aggregate your sets of data isn’t always easy, if you wish I could upload an excel file or a web based script to do it for you. I’ll do it if I think there’s enough people who would benefit from that.

That’s about it, don’t forget to leave a comment and take a look at the Study Guide PRO before you leave.