Search for “best jobs” and you’ll find plenty of lists. While these lists provide a great resource for career planning, they aren’t specific enough for the individual reader. External factors including pay and demand matter, but so do other factors that vary from person to person.
Where to Start
If you need ideas for possible jobs, browse the Occupational Outlook Handbook or take a few career tests. You may already have ideas in mind, but looking at other sources can provide even more options. Compile a list of about ten to twenty careers and narrow your list based on the factors listed above.
Most career rankings focus heavily on salary, but pay can vary greatly within the same field. This doesn’t mean that money should be ignored, but one should look beyond average or median salary. Visit Glassdoor or Payscale to see specific salaries for your region and experience level. How much pay is enough? You should be able to meet your basic needs, plus enough for savings and retirement. The specific amount will depend on your lifestyle and goals. Past a certain level, extra pay is unlikely to make you happier. A satisfying career, on the other hand, is priceless.
Growth and Security
Even if all other factors match your preferences, a career in decline probably won’t make the list. Growth projections can be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. Security is another factor to consider. Will you feel comfortable in a competitive industry or in a job that doesn’t offer steady income? Some individuals need more security than others, and more security may mean a trade-off in other areas.
When making your best jobs list, consider the lifestyle you want to lead. Do you want flexible hours, the ability to travel, or independence? Your lifestyle may change drastically over the course of your career, so you may want a career path that offers plenty of options. A career should accommodate your life and interests, not the other way around.
A given career may be great for one person but terrible for another due to differing interests. No amount of pay or perks can make up for a complete lack of interest in your profession. A career doesn’t have to be your passion, but it should provide enough excitement to keep you motivated. Read about career interest areas and job possibilities for each.
Your “best jobs” list isn’t set in stone. Your career options might change as you learn more about yourself and the job market. The goal of your list is to provide a career planning starting point that’s a bit more personalized than the standard job lists.