How do you achieve the middle ground career-wise? How do you do something which you love, but also something which has ‘financial stability’ or a ‘good income’? In part 1 of this series we looked at the two opposing arguments and said that before you even consider a career path, you need to take a good look at yourself.
Once you know whether you’re a ‘people-person’ or not, a ‘risk-taker’ or not, etc, you’ll have a better idea as to how you feel about careers and jobs which you research into. And, then you can consider the financially-stable career versus hobby balance.
When you’re looking at different career paths, there are two particular sources of information which I highly recommend (I used both). The first source is the Careers 2020 book - the Annual Jobs Directory. It’s a good starting point if you have absolutely no idea where you want to go. It’s quite a hefty source as it lists every career possible, the requirements to get into the profession, and a small description of the job - but it’s definitely worth a read. It should be able to be found in most libraries. As you go through the book, eliminate ones you know are definitely not for you.
If you’re still quite early on into your research of different careers, i.e. in year 10 or year 11, you have time to make a list, or write up a word document on possible careers, careers you’d like to investigate further and ones which are definitely not for you (don’t spend too much time on that list). You may find careers which look intriguing but you’re not yet sure whether you’re ready to dedicate yourself to getting into the said profession. It’s these careers which you want to try and get some work experience. Or, do some more research into it.
There are some careers which require you to have a certain level of work experience before you can get into it. Paths like Medicine and Dentistry require you to have had some exposure to the field of work, and as such, starting research early so you know your facts, can be beneficial. On the other hand, some careers are quite difficult to get ‘work experience’ in. It is at this point where we need to also differentiate between looking for the right university choice, apprenticeship and career. If something like studying History at university appeals to you, you may find that the requirements just require you to have done wider reading into the subject and field of research (which is understandable) - rather than have set work experience as this can be difficult to find. A course like Art usually requires you to be able to demonstrate your art skills through a portfolio.
The second source for job inspiration, is the UCAS website - even if you don’t want to go to university. UCAS is the page through which you apply for a place at university. It is also through UCAS you can learn and explore university, and the different degrees on offer. I recall spending a morning going through every single degree on offer and narrowing my list of choices down to about 4 different options. Once you have a small list, again, you can go and explore them further. If you don’t want to do a degree, the UCAS website can still inspire you to go and find apprenticeships or courses which will allow you to get into a similar (or the same) career. For example, engineering. I’ve mentioned it before, just because I know a bit more about it that other career paths. For engineering, there are a range of degrees on offer, but there are also apprenticeships. As a result, it is worth researching both options.
I hear what you’re about to ask. If you love a certain degree at university, should you be pursuing it even if it doesn’t have the best career options once you have completed your degree?
Here comes the balancing act. You also need to consider the type of person you are. Personally, I would have loved to have designed a career path for myself in Photography. I love all things cameras. I love that you can capture moments which you won’t ever be able to experience again - but you can always have a small memo with you. However, for the time being, I have decided to keep it a side-hobby since the market for photographers is already over-saturated and I prefer the idea of having more job stability. The concept of ‘professional photographers’ is also becoming less of a phenomenon as our everyday phones and gadgets are developing cameras with amazing quality. But, I know that for many people, the idea of an oversaturated market is not going to be off-putting.
A recent article stated that there are five times as many students coming out with performing art degrees as there are job opportunities. Yet, some truly believe that they can offer something special, or different, to photography and can make a living from it. And so, for these people, the best thing for them, may very well be to pursue a career in photography.
Of course, taking a route which is a little bit more risky, can mean that financial stability is compromised - or at least initially. The case with almost all professions is that you start off on smaller wages, and work your way up. The difference with careers which have more risk, or where staffing is not an issue, is that you may struggle ‘to work your way up’. Though, once you have worked your way up, you can earn a comfortable amount of money.
Overall, it is up to you to look into specific careers, the amount that you can earn from it and whether it’s all really worth it. You need to decide whether you’ll be happy in an office-job where you aren’t really pursuing your passions. And, you need to be open-minded to change and always exploring new opportunities.