Are You in the Wrong Career? Here's How to Tell

by Damian Davila on 29 August 2014 0 comments

Welcome to the new normal: The average worker today stays in a job for 4.4 years.

You should probably expect that number to get even lower as 91% of Millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years. (See also: 25 Career Changes You Can Make Today)

And while being labeled as a job hopper may make you less attractive to future employers, there's no time to waste if you don't like what you're doing. Here are seven tools to check if you're on the right career path.

1. What Can I Do With My Major In...?

In 2012, there were about 19.9 million Americans enrolled in college. With the average student debt around $29,400, students need to take a close look at the career options that their degrees provide. MyPlan.com offers a comprehensive list of jobs according to major through its What Can I Do With a Major in…? tool.

Taking a look at your career options during your studies is a good way to check what your career path may look like in the future. You can filter your options by using the results from your Values Assessment Test, which helps you understand what is important to you in a job.

2. MyNextMove.org

What if you haven't declared a major yet or what if you are just taking a sabbatical year to think things through? In that case, the U.S. Department of Labor's MyNextMove.org is a comprehensive tool to help you explore a wide variety of career options and industries. You can search careers through keywords, browse careers by industry, or use the Interest Profiler to find out what kind of careers may be a good fit for you.

3. Occupational Projections Data

If you already have a job or are thinking about switching jobs, then you may be wondering what are the expected employment and wages in a couple years. The Selected Occupational Projections Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics gives you data starting 2012 and with projections up to 2022.

For example, I looked up that there were 129.1 thousand writers and authors in 2012 and that number is expected to grow to 132.9 thousand by 2022. With a small number of competitors, a median annual wage of $55,940, and a 64.4% rate of self-employment, I am comforted that I made the right career decision!

4. Careerrealism's Quiz

Let's imagine that you are just fed up with your current job. Maybe you haven't been promoted for several years or your work hours are starting to affect your health. To help you decide whether you should quit your job, take this 11-question quiz from Carrerrealism. They also provide you a suggested course of actions based on your quiz results.

5. Glasdoor's Job Finder

Sometimes the root of your job frustration may not be that you are in the wrong career, but that you are just in the wrong city. Glassdoor's Job Finder allows you to plug in your job title and check how many work opportunities are available across the United States. For example, my search for freelance writer showed me that while Hawaii only has two opportunities, New York has 49, California has 375, and Illinois has 99.

While the first two made sense to me, I would had never imagined that the Prairie State was ripe with opportunities within my field. The Job Finder also allows you to drill down results per city and find out what other job titles (and cities!) you should consider in your career path.

6. PayScale's GigZig

Here is a really interesting twist on job evaluation. If you already know that the average person stays in a job about four years, then you can leverage that knowledge to predict your career path. PayScale's GigZig uses data from millions of people to indicate, based on a job title, what job that person held five years ago and what job that person will have five years from now.

Based on those three job titles, GigZig shows you what percentage of people have taken a specific path. Since the median salary is included for each job, you will find yourself exploring the many zigs and zags your career path could take.

If you cannot make up your mind between two jobs, then take a closer look at each one through PayScale's chart on the most and least meaningful jobs. This interactive chart compares job meaning, salary, and job satisfaction for over 450 job titles.

7. Career Values Test

Finally, if you need a full revaluation of your career path, then you should take a look at your career values. The Career Values Test is a comprehensive examination of your career values and your motivations behind them. Having a deeper understanding of what makes you tick in career terms allows you to better evaluate your career path and any potential employer. According to the makers of the test, these career values provide the means to evaluate the merits of any career and negotiate the terms for actual job offerings.

What are some other useful tools to evaluate if you're in the right career path?

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