Are you wondering which career path is right for you?

The career path you choose determines a huge part of the rest of your life. You spend the majority of your life working, therefore it is essential to make the right decision.

Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions you will make in life, as it is more than deciding what you want to do to earn a living. Think about the amount of time spent at work: we are on the job approximately 71% of the year. Over a lifetime, this comes to roughly 31 ½ years out of the 45 years an average person spends working, from the beginning of the career up until retirement.

Therefore, it is key to choose the correct career.

Did you know if you choose a career path that you are interested in, it is more likely you will remain motivated? If you are passionate about the profession you’ve chosen, you are more likely to be successful because you will push yourself to achieve.

Many steps should be considered when you decide which career path to choose. The four steps to consider when choosing a career are to:

Know yourself- To make the right choice, you need to know yourself. Identify your strengths and weaknesses to know which career path is right for you. Assess your interests and values. Being aware of skills you have highlights the gaps in your knowledge that may need to be fulfilled in order to achieve your goals.

Explore your options- research the job market and career paths of interest to you and narrow down your options. Exploring career options develops your knowledge on the profession opportunities that are out there.

Decide- combine what you’ve learned about yourself with what you’ve discovered about your options. Decide which profession interests you the most and select one or two alternatives to fall back on if you are unable to pursue your first choice.

Act- set achievable goals and have a career plan. A career plan is a practical approach to determine your expertise and interests. Your career plan should outline how you’ll get to your chosen career and what actions are needed.

Options for Students after completing GCSEs            

After completing your GCSEs, there are options available for you to decide what you want to do next:

If you intend to continue down the academic route and go on to further education, you can study vocational courses or A-levels at a sixth form or college. Universities will look at your GCSEs as part their application process, but their interest is more in A-levels. So, if you decide on a career that requires a degree, then you’ll need to continue studying for A-levels.

Apply for an Apprenticeship:

An apprenticeship is when you work for an employer and are trained to do a specific job at the same time. Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study. They last between one and for years. As an apprentice, you work alongside experienced staff, develop skills and knowledge and earn a wage.

Apply for a Traineeship:

A traineeship is an education and training programme designed to help young people who want to get an apprenticeship or job, but don’t have the skills or experience. They usually last from six weeks up to a minimum of six months. Traineeships are unpaid and include English and Maths support, if required.

Don’t know what to do after university? Here are some options:

Apply for a graduate scheme- a structured training programme that allows graduates to gain practical experience with a company, giving them a head-start into the world of work. Graduate schemes are paid positions and last between one and three years.

Get a graduate job- The majority of graduates will be looking for a job. Most universities provide support, so if you need guidance get in touch with your university careers service.

Study a Masters degree: A Masters degree is ideal for those who want to further their knowledge in a particular subject and improve their employability.

A masters degree is a level 7 qualification- above Bachelors degree but below PhD.

If you are unsure of what to do, don’t panic! Take a gap year.  Plenty of graduates are unsure about diving straight into a full-time career and instead consider taking a gap year. A gap year is just a period of taking time out- it’ll probably be the longest holiday you can take of your life! During your gap year, you can fly off to sunnier climates and experience different cultures or stay closer to home and sample what the UK has to offer. There are many benefits of taking a gap year. For example, you would increase your confidence and independence, as you would interact with new people you meet. You would raise your cultural awareness as living and working alongside different people would help you to understand other cultures. You would also improve your language skills- if your gap year involves living in a different country where your first language isn’t common, you would pick up some useful phrases. Many employers see speaking a different language as a huge asset.

Changing career paths

If you ever consider changing career paths, firstly think carefully whether this is the right decision for you. Sometimes, you just need a change of scenery, not a career. It is essential you don’t instantly rush this decision.  Make sure you have the right set of skills and qualifications to change into a new career. Asses your experience.

When deciding what career path to choose, or when considering a career change ask yourself the following questions:

What am I good at?

What are my interests, motivations and values?

What kind of lifestyle do I want? What do I want from my career?

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