How do you choose a career that best suits you?

Choosing a career is a very different thing from choosing a job or choosing which company to work for. While a job is a way to trade time for money, and a company is a place where you do it, a career is a much bigger and more important concept. Your career is what you hope to be doing throughout your working life. While a career usually consists of multiple jobs, it has a unifying theme.

The first step to choosing a career is figuring out what your skills are. There are many online tests you can take, assess your skills, and taking stock of yourself and your skills can give you some guidance. If you do not like children, for instance, teaching and child care are not good careers for you. If you faint at the sight of blood, you won't become a surgeon. If you are extremely good at mathematics, a career in the sciences or in finance could be an excellent choice.

Once you have figured out what your skills are, think about what you love doing. Your goal should be to find a career in an area that you love that also puts your skills to good use. For example, if you enjoy looking at buildings and are good at mathematics, your dream career could be in civil engineering. When you do this, keep in mind the saying that "If you follow your passion, the money will follow." While it is true that some jobs pay significantly more than others, most careers can lead to a satisfying salary. In other words, it is possible to do what you love and have enough money to be happy.

Once you have determined your dream career, do some research. Think about what factors will go in when you decide on that career path. For example, would you have to relocate, where do you want to reach ultimately in the professional ladder, if you want to set up your own business or work in a corporate etc.  Doing research also provides a sense of what degrees, certifications or experience you need to enter an industry. It also should help you begin to map out your career path, according to the various options and specialties within a field.

The two best types of research you can do when considering a career are talking to as many people in your chosen field as possible and getting as much experience as you can. Talking to people is usually a simple matter of booking informational interviews, asking a few good questions and listening carefully. One of the best ways to get experience is to volunteer for a related nonprofit organization or to find an internship; you even can do temporary work through an agency for a company in your desired industry. After you have gotten some experience and spoken to a few people, step back and reflect on what you have learned. If everything is as you expected, you should be ready to commence your new career.