Career Path: Definition and How To Choose One

Choosing a career path is an excellent way to begin your professional life by acquiring the skills, education, and experience to land a satisfying job.

People usually do not choose their career paths or achieve each of their professional milestones linearly. People’s professional journeys are typically long and winding, with many stops, detours, and decisions made along the route.

As you make certain life decisions, such as which school to attend, which entry-level job is right for you, or whether to pursue a post-graduate degree or specialized certification, it’s critical to consider your interests, skills, and career objectives.

To learn how to choose a career path, read this article. It will teach all you need to know about your career path and how you can begin your professional journey.

What Is A Career Path?

In order to progress towards your goals and objectives, you must undertake a series of jobs along your career path.

Your career path should include all the jobs you’ll need to do in order to achieve your ultimate career goal. Climbing the corporate ladder does not follow a predetermined path or timeline.

Traditionally, career paths have been associated with vertical growth or advancement to higher-level positions; however, they can also include lateral (sideways) movement within or between industries.

According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, baby boomers held an average of 12.3 jobs from the ages of 18 to 52.2.

It is normal for people to change jobs from time to time, which may involve different positions in different industries. Career paths are not without their ups and downs, and some people even plan to move down the career ladder at some point.

You might move down the career ladder by requesting a transfer to a position with fewer responsibilities and less stress from your current employer. Alternatively, you might apply for a position with a company with which you have a strong desire to work, but the only available positions are at a lower level.

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What Are The Different Career Paths?

Your path through industry or your path through an organization is the two most common terms used to describe your professional development. To become a principal, for example, you would typically begin your career as a teacher and earn your administrative credentials while still working as a teacher.

Alternatively, if you live in a large district, you might decide to chart a course within your district. You might start as a department head and work up to an assistant principal or vice president position.

If you live in a smaller district, you may find that you need to transfer to a unique organization in order to achieve your objectives. Then you are advancing within your profession but will work for a unique organization.

As part of the employee development process, some organizations assist you in developing a career path.

During this conversation, you and your supervisor or a human resources representative will discuss your future career development within your company.

As part of the performance appraisal process, this discussion may take place. Additional education, training, or work assignments may be planned to prepare you for roles in your career path that are further down the road.

In the end, your career path is determined by your personal values and goals as well as your professional values. You may decide to switch industries to earn more money, receive better benefits, and/or experience greater job satisfaction. Alternatively, you may decide to deviate from the path entirely in order to care for your family or further your education.

Types of Career Path

There are four types of career paths: job, business, knowledge-oriented jobs, and skill-oriented jobs.

Career paths can be divided into two broad categories: JOBs and joining others’ businesses. The other is running your own business, or, as I like to call it, DOB.

Furthermore, jobs can be divided into two broad categories: knowledge-oriented jobs and skill-oriented jobs. These are the most common types of job opportunities.

1. Knowledge professionals

A knowledge-oriented job is one in which you have acquired and apply knowledge. A good example of such is medicine, law, engineering, accounting, finance, or management. These are all examples of knowledge-based career paths.

Knowledge professionals contribute to the success of others’ businesses by using their knowledge and time to solve problems, advise, or create soft products (software). Anything involving a computer is considered common knowledge by professionals, such as:

  • Architects
  • Computer engineers
  • Web designers
  • Data Scientists
  • Management Consultants
  • IT professionals
  • Marketing Professionals

2. Skilled Professionals

Next on our list of the types of career paths are skill-oriented professions. These are more physical skills, such as labour, welding, plumbing, mechanic, etc. Skill-related types of career paths are those that require practical, provision of a service or physical product, often paid for hourly. They require some skill and can also be paid freelance or job per job basis for odd jobs. Examples include:

  • Chefs
  • Sportsmen
  • Repair technicians
  • Gardeners
  • Mechanics or Plumbers
  • Artists
  • Performers
  • Construction workers

3. Business or Entrepreneurship

The next type of career path is being your boss, or owing a business, in which you can set up your venture or enterprise. The business is something that adds value to the customer in the form of trading, selling a new product or service.

So if you’re going down this path, you will need some capital and the means to create a product or service to set up this business. You will also need diverse skills, such as hiring the diverse people who will make your team and creating a supply chain or customer-base.

Entrepreneurship can be of many types, such as opening a small shop, buying goods, and selling them with an added value. Often entrepreneurs use a combination of skills and knowledge to build their businesses.

4. Independent Contractors

Selling a service or skill is another type of business. You have basic skills or knowledge in this, but you become self-sufficient and sell it as a freelancer. You are an independent freelancer if a corporation does not employ you. Chartered accountants, photographers, web developers, and artists are examples of this. Independent contractors or freelancers are defined as anyone who is self-employed and is not bound to an enterprise.

What Are The Examples of Career Paths?

Career paths are countless in number and variety, and everyone has their own set of goals and ladder to climb up the corporate ladder.

In addition to the number of possible ultimate career outcomes being virtually limitless, there are also virtually limitless ways to get to each of the outcomes.

However, while we cannot provide you with an exhaustive list of career paths, we can provide some examples of potential career paths to consider.

Here are some examples of career paths that can be followed in common employment industries:

  • Choosing an IT Career – Computer Science Major – Web Developer Intern – Junior Web Developer – Software Engineer – IT Manager – Head of Information Technology
  • Marketing: social media specialist, content marketing associate, marketing lead, head of marketing, chief marketing officer (CMO)
  • Store Manager – Assistant Store Manager – Store Manager – District Manager – Retail Sales Associate – Cashier – Consumables Team Leader – District Manager
  • Majoring in Accounting and Finance Junior Accountants Senior Accountants Corporate Controllers Chief Financial Officers (CFO)
  • Majoring in Physical Therapy with a concentration in Biology and Physiology Doctor of Physical Therapy Physical Therapist PT Resident Private Practice
  • Engineer – Engineering Student Engineer I Engineer II Senior Engineer Principal Engineer Engineer – Engineering Student
  • A Bachelor’s Degree in Childhood Education is required for the position of Teaching Assistant. The position of Teacher is required for the position of Principal.
  • MEDIA – Editorial Interns & Assistants, Assistant Editors, Associate Editors, Managing Editors, and Editors in Chief are all available.

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What Qualifies Me For A Career Path?

Some people have carefully considered and planned their professional lives. Others approach things one job at a time, adjusting as their objectives and preferences shift. Either strategy (or a combination of the two) has the potential to be successful. Here’s how you can put yourself in the best viable position for a successful career path:

  • Be in a learning mode at all times: The job market today moves at breakneck speed. You must learn new skills in order to keep up with the times.
  • If you want to find out which skills are most in-demand in your industry, look at your colleagues’ LinkedIn profiles. You’ll learn about the skills you’ll need to advance your career.
  • Even if you are not interested in job-hopping, networking with your peers can help you identify new directions for your professional life.
  • Be adaptable: Don’t cling too tightly to your original career path. Keep an open mind to new possibilities and your ultimate goals in mind.
  • What are the most important things to you? What aspects of your job and career do you find rewarding, and what aspects would you like to see reduced or eliminated in your next position?
  • Avoid being intimidated by making lateral moves: Sometimes it is necessary to move sideways (or even backward) to advance.

If a job allows you to learn new skills or make valuable connections that will be useful later on, consider making a lateral move.

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What Should I Consider When Choosing a Career Path?

Your career path should consider your objectives, long-term plans, and personality. Taking these considerations into account can assist you in selecting the most appropriate starting position and making strategic decisions over time.

When deciding on a career path, consider the following steps:

1. Describe your professional objectives

Start with self-reflection by asking and answering a series of questions before deciding on a profession. Reflecting on your options can help you narrow them down to something more specific. Find out what you intend to achieve, your principles, passions, skills, personal abilities, and the responsibilities you may like to take up.

Once you’ve answered these and important questions, you’ll be able to conduct more thorough research into potential career paths.

It’s also important to revisit your career goals as your personal and professional development progresses to ensure that your objectives remain achievable and in line with your interests.

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2. Make a Long-term strategic plan

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, think about setting goals for yourself in your professional life. Investigate where other people in your field are at five or ten years into their careers and make a note of the job titles that they have held during that time.

Figure out which titles or advancements you want to have at these future points in your professional life. Then do some research to see what you can do to achieve your objectives. It is possible that you will need to complete training programs, assume specific responsibilities, or hold prerequisite positions.

3. Figure out what kind of personality you have

A personality type is a collection of personality traits that can be classified into one of several categories. There are various methods for determining your personality type, many of which are based on how you respond to various situations in your life.

It is possible for different personality types to naturally gravitate toward and develop different interests and strengths, including different careers.

4. Examine your previous work experience

Your level of job satisfaction in previous positions can also be a factor in determining your future career path. Recognize patterns in your previous positions, such as a preference for a particular technical skill set. Also, go over your work history and look for positions in which you were happy and fulfilled.

5. Examine the job requirements in relation to your education

There are many jobs that have specific education requirements for applicants and new hires, such as having completed a high school diploma, graduating from a bachelor’s degree program, or holding a master’s degree. Some positions also require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in a field that is related to the position they are applying for.

Take a look at what education is required for the jobs you are interested in, and apply for positions that accept your current level of education, or look into what additional degrees or certifications you might require.

6. Evaluate your current level of expertise

List all of your current skills, certifications, and areas of expertise on a single sheet of paper. You can also solicit feedback from coworkers and colleagues regarding your technical, interpersonal, and people management abilities. This evaluation can assist you in identifying careers that are a good match for your skills and experience.

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7. Make a list of your hobbies and interests

Depending on your personality, you may have interests that are great for a variety of different occupations. Investigate your hobbies, previous volunteer experiences, and interests to discover the activities you enjoy participating in.

While this information is not intended to be used in a professional setting, compiling a list of activities can assist you in narrowing down your career options.

8. Identify your fundamental principles

The ability to recognize and articulate your core values can assist you in choosing a career path that is personally fulfilling for you.

It can also assist you in identifying fields or niche areas of your interest. Consider compiling a list of characteristics you believe are important to a company or its workers. It is possible to search through this list for companies and job descriptions that align with your values.

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9. Take into consideration your salary requirements

Depending on your profession, you can earn a wide range of income. Indeed Salaries allow you to search for average salaries by job title, company, and location.

The information provided here can be a good starting point for estimating how much money you’ll make when you first start and your earning potential after a certain amount of time and experience.

While a high salary does not necessarily equate to an interesting and satisfying job, it is important to consider when planning your professional path.


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