Education involves acquiring knowledge and skills. In the United States and Canada, students typically receive 13 years of public education before earning their high school diploma. Once students graduate, they can enter the workforce, complete an apprenticeship, attend a trade school, or go to college.
Research demonstrates that completing postsecondary education can increase your income level and employment opportunities. Earning postsecondary credentials can also ensure you qualify for careers you enjoy. Although most people are familiar with the benefits of education, it can be challenging to find the right educational opportunities to suit your needs and interests. Using these tips can help you identify academic options that will prepare you for your career.
Talk to your high school guidance counselor.
Your high school guidance counselor can help you develop a suitable academic plan to achieve your career goals. Your guidance counselor works with you when you choose courses each year, ensuring you complete the courses required to graduate and the prerequisites required to qualify for acceptance to postsecondary programs. If you aren’t sure what type of career you want to pursue, your guidance counselor can provide information about career options based on your aptitudes and interests.
Attend college fairs.
College admissions professionals set up booths at college fairs. These professionals promote their facilities and programs to potential students. Attending a college fair can be an effective way to learn about different fields of study and the types of careers you can qualify to pursue. You can also learn about opportunities to enter the workforce and advance in your career with additional training. For example, a licensed practice nurse (LPN) may begin their career after earning a nursing certificate or diploma. Once they enter the field, they may continue their studies and earn a bachelor’s degree, enabling them to advance to the role of a registered nurse (RN). The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that LPNs earned median annual incomes of $48,820 per year in 2020, while RNs took home median incomes of $75,330 the same year. The information you receive at a college fair can help you develop a short-term and long-term career plan suited to your interests and financial situation.
You can also learn about online courses and programs. For example, you don’t have to relocate to earn your degree in bachelor of science in applied computer science anymore. Online degree programs in everything from computer science to liberal arts make it possible to set your schedule and earn the credentials you need for your ideal career. Colleges and universities also provide information about your career options after graduation, enabling you to determine if the degree program you’re considering is the right field of study. For example, a bachelor of science (BS) degree in applied computer science will equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to work in computer and information technology, but may not prepare you for a career as a salesperson.
Use career aptitude tests.
There are several career aptitude tests you can take to help you identify potential career options. Identify the career options you’re interested in and research the academic requirements for those careers. Googling the career and its academic requirements will enable you to determine the type of coursework you need to complete and whether you need a certificate, diploma, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctoral degree. You can use that information to Google the required credentials and find academic institutions that offer suitable degree programs.
Talk to professionals.
Whether your school invites a local professional to discuss their career with your class or your parents know someone in the career field you’re considering, talking to professionals who work in that field can be an excellent way to learn about your academic options. For example, if you’re interested in a career in the financial sector and know Caitlin Gossage, you may ask Gossage which postsecondary programs she recommends. Gossage is the chief compliance officer (CCO) and vice president of operations for Forthlane in Toronto, Canada. As CCO, Gossage ensures Forthlane complies with the regulations and laws governing the financial sector. As VP of operations, Gossage makes business decisions affecting how Forthlane operates and generates a profit. Discussing financial career options with a respected professional, such as Gossage, ensures you’ll understand your career options and the best way to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to pursue a career in finance.
Talking to professionals is a crucial step if you’re considering a trade. Plumbers, electricians, and other tradespeople must complete an apprenticeship. Talking to professionals will help you learn about appropriate trade school programs and apprenticeship opportunities.
Look for ways to change the nature of what you work with rather than your job.
Although you may earn more money if you earn a degree, you may increase your income by changing the nature of the products you sell. For example, while retail workers may sell products to customers, the BLS reports retail workers earned median incomes of $27,320 in 2020, while real estate brokers and sales agents took home median incomes of $51,220 the same year. If you’re a natural with sales but don’t want to spend several years in college, obtaining your Connecticut real estate license may be an ideal option. To become a licensed real estate sales agent, you must complete a 60-hour course that’s approved by the state. The training program ensures you have the knowledge required to sell real estate to homebuyers. Once you complete the course, you’ll take the state’s real estate salesperson exam. After you’ve passed the state exam, find a real estate broker in Connecticut who will sponsor you and apply for your license. Other sales options for an aspiring salesperson include selling insurance or selling vehicles.
Finding the right academic opportunities can make the difference between entering your chosen career field and struggling to find suitable employment. Guidance counselors, college fairs, career aptitude tests, and professionals in your chosen field can help you identify suitable education programs. You can also research different sales options to learn how to earn the credentials required to sell real estate or other products, such as insurance.