Learning what you value most can help you find your ideal career.
At the end of the day, a job is just a job. It's getting what you want out of it that can make the difference between loving it and hating it.
So how do you determine what's most important to you?
Brainstorming a list of things you like to do or don't like to do can help you find the right path, says Jessica Hernandez, a former HR manager who is now president and CEO of Great Resumes Fast.
"Sometimes, simply making a list will cause you to see a common theme and you can easily identify a career that would best suit your talent, passion and interests," Hernandez says.
To help you figure out what careers might be the best fit for you, we've broken down some popular professions by the following benefits: balance, earning potential, satisfaction, and stability.
Keep reading to find the career you want and deserve...
Careers with Work-Life Balance
Striking the proper work-life balance means different things to different people. Some people want a steady 9-to-5 gig while others want the ability to design their own schedule or even work from home.
Just remember, any successful work-life balancing act depends on your ability to control your career as opposed to it controlling you.
These careers may qualify:
Registered nurses, who usually have a bachelor's or an associate's degree in nursing, often enjoy a wide variety of work-life balance perks, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. These can include:
- Flexible work schedules
- Child care benefits
- Educational benefits
Making a comfortable living as a writer is not easy. Technical writing, however, can be a more stable career choice. Employers often prefer grads with degrees in English, communications, or journalism, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which cites the following perks of the profession:
- Most technical writers work steady hours and are employed full-time.
- Freelancing is an option.
- Advances in technology allow you to work from almost anywhere.
Careers with Solid Earning Potential
Craving a career that offers high-pay doesn't make you greedy - just human.
And while it is certainly true that following your heart can lead to a rewarding career - both personally and financially - it's also true that some careers feature higher average incomes than others.
You don't have to become a lawyer to earn a nice living in the legal industry. Paralegals, who assist lawyers, had an average salary of $50,080 in 2009, with the top 10 percent averaging at $75,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. An associate's degree in paralegal studies is usually needed to get started. If you already have a bachelor's degree in an unrelated area, consider getting a paralegal certificate.
Finance managers raked in an average of $113,730 in 2009, according to the U.S Department of Labor, which recommends getting your bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, business administration, or economics. An MBA with a specialty in an area like finance can also help you prepare for this career with high earning potential.
Careers with High Satisfaction
Job satisfaction is tied to a variety of factors, according to a 2009 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Employees polled by SHRM listed these five as the most important:
- Job security
- Opportunities to use skills and abilities
- Feeling safe in the workplace
With these factors in mind, check out these potentially satisfying career choices:
An amazing 91.7 percent of security directors nationwide say their position is satisfying, according to Money/PayScale's 2010 "Best Jobs in America". Security directors oversee security guards and officers and help keep facilities and personnel secure from criminals and potential theft, so a background in criminal justice could help get your career going. Military experience is also highly valued by employers.
An impressive 87.5 percent of hospital administrators nationwide say their profession is satisfying, according to Money/PayScale.com's "Best Jobs in America". To get your career started, consider earning a bachelor's degree in an area like health care administration or business administration. Work experience will help you work your way up the ladder into a management role, and an MBA could help you qualify as well.
Careers with Stability
Stability has become a popular career buzz word for many Americans as a result of the recent recession. Some careers have it (health care in particular) and others don't (sorry, typewriter salesmen).
Looking for some stability in your own career? Check out these two relatively safe bets:
Health care is the hottest field in terms of job growth, according to projections by the U.S. Department of Labor. Medical assistants are a shining example of this growth; with the Department of Labor forecasting a 34 percent surge in opportunities from 2008-2018. An added benefit is that one to two year programs (like an associate's degree) could qualify you for this career.
Accountants are needed - in good times as well as bad - to help companies and individuals balance their books. There is a steady 22 percent rise in employment opportunities for accountants through 2018, according to forecasts from the U.S. Department of Labor. Studying accounting or finance in school is one way to get started and prepare for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam.