In this post, we discuss leveling up your career whether you’re a high school student struggling with what you want to be when you grow up or you’re already in the workforce and trying to navigate the career pathways you see ahead.
It’s common for someone to ask what you want to be when you grow up. As a kid, that was an easy answer, an astronaut, a police officer or firefighter, a doctor. As you grow older, the realities of these jobs come into focus and you realize they aren’t always practical either because the job isn’t what you imagined, the chances of obtaining the job are too low, or the years of training make the job unappealing. As a college professor, I still find graduating seniors have a blind spot when it comes to managing their careers. For instance, we recently hosted a speaker who asked a student about her career expectations when she graduated in a few months. She thought she’d earn a salary that reflected the top range of salaries for that position earned by employees with many years of experience. Undoubtedly, she was disappointed with the offers she received a few months later and the unreality of her expectations might have caused her to reject perfectly good options.
No matter your goals, there are endless opportunities out there ready for those prepared to take advantage of them. So, where should you start? And what is the next step in leveling up your career? Here are a few tips that can help you get closer to your dream job position. Start here!
Leveling up your career
Understand your career goals
The first step in leveling up your career is to understand your career goals and the reality of your career options. For some workers, their goals are all about taking on more responsibilities within their current workplace. For others, preparing for new opportunities fits their goal. Obviously, the pathways for leveling up your career and the steps you take differ widely based on your goals and where you are right now.
If your goal is to achieve greater success in your workplace or to prepare for a change to a new workplace that better fits your goals, leveling up your career means seeking more opportunities to show your stuff. Waiting for opportunities takes too long and those opportunities might never come. Instead, you might volunteer for additional responsibilities or offer to help someone else working on a task that you can handle. Soon, your managers will see your talent and respect you for taking on additional responsibilities.
If you’re just starting out or considering new goals for yourself, leveling up your career might start with shadowing someone who already holds the position you want to see if the reality matches your goals. You might also volunteer with an organization or non-profit to learn the realities of working in that role.
No matter what you wish to achieve, it is important to be clear on what you want to achieve and understand if the reality matches your goals. After all, all career moves require a certain time, effort, and monetary investment – and they don’t come without risk! Learn as much as you can before making a move.
Best career options
Obviously, you want a career that makes you happy, but you should also consider careers with high growth potential. After spending years training for a job, it’s great if you can actually find a job in that career.
According to Forbes, here are some industries with double-digit career opportunities:
- Personal services from wedding planner to house cleaner and food delivery. Sure, the earning potential for these services isn’t great but they don’t take much in the way of training and offer the ability to set your own schedule. Remember, too, that you don’t have to settle for just selling your services. You can build a company that employs workers who perform all the work. One of the richest friends I have from college built an empire cleaning office buildings.
- Travel industry although the role of travel agent is now dead due to online booking. Consider building an Airbnb empire, which now surpasses the revenue available from flipping houses. Travel bloggers and vloggers also make a lot of money sharing their adventures and having a great time doing it.
- Information technology is a burgeoning business and has been for years. Opportunities in this industry include cybersecurity, programming (coding), and IoT (Internet of Things). The downside of this career is the amount of time it takes to learn how to work in this industry. However, once you have gained the necessary skills and certifications such as the CISSP certificate for cybersecurity jobs, you can expect to earn a higher salary than other jobs.
- Healthcare is another business facing higher-than-average growth. And, being a doctor isn’t the only way for leveling up your career in healthcare. Increasingly, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants take charge of much of the routine medical care in both hospitals and private practices. Occupational and physical therapy is also growing as the population ages and we replace painkillers with therapy. If years of schooling isn’t your thing, you can learn to operate the many tools used in the healthcare industry such as X-rays and MRI machines.
- Construction took off in the last few years as the housing market heated up. Not only is new construction increasing but home remodeling and repairs are always in high demand. Like some of the other high-growth careers, construction takes little formal training and apprenticeships are available for some of the more lucrative areas such as electrical and plumbing. Many schools are moving back to teaching skilled trades as they recognize that not every student plans to attend college.
Reskill and upskill
According to recent estimates, around 50% of today’s employees will require upskilling and reskilling in the next few years. As automation becomes an increasingly more important and pervasive aspect in all businesses and organizations, there is a growing need for people who can manage technology whether that’s running a CADCAM system to design a new product, a 3D printer to build a home, medical devices, or even handle your own accounts. Almost no worker can hold a job today without using some form of technology.
At the same time, jobs evolve over time to require upskilling and increasingly workers change careers in midstream to require reskilling. According to the Wall Street Journal, the average person transitions through 7 careers in their lifetime pointing to the need for reskilling over time. To address this growing need, more universities offer short programs, such as certificates, to provide the skills needed for new careers or career advancement. At Shenandoah University, our School of Business now has certificate programs in Digital Marketing, Business Analytics, Supply Chain Management, and Cybersecurity to upskill workers for new, high-demand careers.
You can find numerous resources online, such as study guides, practice exams, and tutorials, to aid your exam preparation. Career Employer experts offer a free SIE practice exam tailored to help aspiring professionals excel in the financial services industry. By making the most of such resources, you can confidently approach your certification exam and broaden your career horizons.
Start your own business
If you always had an entrepreneurial spirit, owning your own business is another way of leveling up your career. For example, opting for home care franchises can help you launch your own business in a sector facing double-digit growth. When running a franchise, you have the support and knowledge necessary to succeed – with minimal risk and limited monetary investments. Obviously, franchise opportunities exist in many industries.
Or, you can start a business from scratch, which offers higher earning potential (along with more risk) and more freedom to operate your business in the way you see fit.
Train in a complementary skill
You can optimize your career by adding a range of services. For instance, you might take your marketing consulting experience and add digital marketing services as an option by upskilling (and I hope you consider my digital marketing certificate as an option). If you work as a bookkeeper, you might train to sit for the CPA exam. The options for adding a complementary skill are nearly endless.
Find a mentor
The reality in most businesses is constant change, adaptation, and growth. And, today, most industries are evolving at an unprecedented pace! In such a fast-changing environment, identifying long-term opportunities and choosing a career path offers many options for leveling up your career. For instance, you can sharpen your skills by taking tests required for job interviews, such as Microsoft Word tests.
In this case, finding a mentor that can help you on your journey and pass down knowledge and expertise can help.
Leveling up your career is a long-term project that occurs at various stages along your work life. Consider this advice as you make changes, both major and minor, over the course of your career.
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