When you’re a kid, you often hear the question: “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” Your answers may have ranged over the years from ballerina to zookeeper to astronaut to movie star. But as you start getting older, that question becomes more and more real. It’s time to start figuring out what you want to do for a career and how you are going to get there.
It’s important to dream big, especially as a kid, but when you’re thinking of all these wonderful, exciting careers, you may not have thought about what you have to do to get there. Now that you’re looking at career paths more practically, it’s time to start figuring out what credentials you’ll need for certain professions. For example, no one is going to let you practice medicine without years of medical school and a professional license. Once you figure out what you want to do with your life, the next step is knowing how to get those required career credentials. Here are just three basic areas for you to explore as you’re looking to start your professional life.
1. Go on to get a level of higher education at colleges or universities.
Many people finish high school and look forward to a college career. Higher education is a natural step for many to get into the career they want. Many professions require at least a bachelor’s degree to work in that field. For example, you need a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice to become a private investigator and most marketing firms will expect a degree in marketing, public relations, communications, or something along those lines. Other professions will go one step further and ask that applicants have a master’s degree in their given field or even a doctorate.
Pursuing a level of higher education will help you reach these lofty goals and show you have credentials even if you change up careers down the line. No matter what you go into, you’ll have that degree forever and no one can take it away from you. Plus, college is a time for you to learn several other professional and problem-solving skills from your coursework and beyond.
2. Explore opportunities for trade school.
If going away to college isn’t your cup of tea, you can still pursue several lucrative trade careers. You can pursue professions as an electrician, hairstylist, plumber, construction worker, commercial driver, medical tech, or so many other jobs without a college degree. However, most of these positions will still require some schooling or participating in a program that helps you understand the work. You’ll need to complete a cosmetology or esthetics program before you can work in a salon, for example. Many of these programs are much more condensed than going away for a bachelor’s degree in four years. So, if you’re looking to start working sooner rather than later, go to a trade school and start your career off right.
3. Research any licenses or certifications you’ll need for that career.
Beyond your schooling, you may also need certifications or licenses to practice in your given field. Mental health counselors need a master’s degree, but they also need to get an official license in the state they’re practicing in. The same goes for teachers, doctors, or HR reps. Even trade professions will require you to get the right certifications for welders, hairstylists, or builders. These licenses simply state that you took courses in that discipline, passed a test, and are ready to practice your skills. Be sure you research your specific career path to see what documentation you need and how often it will need to be renewed.