How to research a career that's best for you
If you’re in the process of considering which career to study for or go into, it may help to do some research. This may seem like a lot of work, but you’ll be spending the next 40 odd years working so it’s important to spend some time and energy on this task.
Here are some tips on how to research careers:
What should you research?
One of the easiest ways to research just about anything these days is to use Google. There really is so much information available online. Although, you shouldn’t depend exclusively on the Internet, it will give you a good idea. Go to www.google.co.za and type in the following phrases in the search box at the top and then clicking on the articles that come up after the search to read them.
- Job duties (this is what the job will entail). Type ‘Job duties and responsibilities [profession] South Africa’ in the Google search bar.
- Qualifications necessary (which degree, certificate or courses you need to study).
- Type ‘Qualifications needed for [profession] South Africa’ in the Google search bar.
- Training requirements (sometimes, you have to do some form of practical training in addition to your studies to qualify for a career). Type ‘Training requirements for [profession] in South Africa.
- Job outlook (this will bring up interesting articles about the particular profession or job you’re searching for, from which you can deduct whether it’s in high demand or a job that’s being phased out. Type ‘Outlook for [profession] in South Africa’.
Employers of the profession. (This will tell you if it’s small companies or huge conglomerates, and government and NGOs or the private sector that employs the profession you’re searching for). Type ‘Employers of [profession] in South Africa’.
Go onto university and college websites
Besides searching through Google, you can also go to specific sites, like universities and colleges. Here, you will find specific information about the course they offer as well as the requirements for qualifying for the different courses. For example, some degrees and courses require you to have achieved a pass mark in higher grade maths, others may require a C average in Science etc. If you do this research, you will know whether you will be able to study in the particular field you’re searching.
Search job portals
You can also go onto the job portals on EvenMe in the Internships and Jobs section, and others on the Internet, to see how much demand there is for a specific professions. Unless you are very good at something, it’s best to stay away from rare professions because there won’t be a great demand for it. These sites are also great for getting a feel for the salary ranges for the different jobs.
Speak to people in the profession you’re interested in
Some of the best insights you will receive will come from people who actually are in the career you’re interested in. If you don’t know anyone in that career personally or know of someone that knows someone, there is nothing wrong with phoning up a company and asking them to speak to someone in that profession and then explaining that you are considering following that career path and would appreciate it if they could spare a few minutes on the phone to answer a few questions. You could ask them the following questions:
- What do you like most about being a [profession]?
- What do you like least about it?
- What are the working hours like?
- Do you work mostly as a team or independently?
- Is there scope for growth?
- Can you specialize further?
- Is there a demand for the [profession]?
- What would someone need to be like to excel in this career?
- What should I consider seriously before I choose this career?
Speak to lecturers or teachers
If you have the opportunity, speak to a lecturer at a college or university that offers courses for the profession you’re keen on. They sometimes work in the profession and lecture. They can be a great source of information. You can ask them similar questions to the ones above and then add some in about the actual courses, like:
- Does this course prepare you well for a career in [profession]?
- What do students struggle with mostly?
- What should I consider before I choose this course?
- What makes a good [profession]?
These tips will help you research careers so that you have a good idea of what you’re getting into before you make your choice. Remember, it may seem like a lot of work, but it will be worth your while in the long-run.