Hope For Tomorrow Counseling

5 Steps to Help you Decide which Career Path to Take: Part 1

Jennifer Owen, M.A., LMHP-R, NCC

“What are you going to be when you grow up?” Honestly, I hated hearing these questions when I was younger just about as much as I hated seeing the summer come to an end. I thought to myself, “How am I supposed to know what I’m going to be when I grow up?” I became more afraid of this question as I finished my senior year of high school and was starting my freshmen year of college. I knew what college I was going to attend but I had ZERO IDEA what my major would be! Zip, none, ZILCH! The anxiety continued to rise within me and thoughts emerged such as “How come everyone else knows what they want to do except for me?” and “I’ll never be successful!”. Even though these statements weren’t true they felt true to me, and it was overwhelming. 

I’m guessing you probably feel the same way or you know somebody who is struggling with this right now. If so, here are five (5) things to consider when deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life: (No pressure) 😉 

  1. Understand that you don’t have to pick a career RIGHT THIS SECOND.

Often times we are taught through societal pressures and expectations that we have to know what we are doing in life. We are expected to have it all together. This is far from the truth. The reality of the matter is that 20% – 50% of college-aged students do not know what their major is when they start college (Dennis, 2007 & Gordon, 1995). In addition to this 75% of college students change their major at least once before graduation (Gordon, 1995).

So what about those who chose not to go to college right out of high school? Do they have to pick a career right away? You guessed it… nope! Many people choose not to go to college after high school and they often times get slack for it. They may be overwhelmed with relatives or friends stating that they will not get a job or be successful in life if they don’t go to college; in reality, research shows that just last year there were 30 million jobs available in the U.S. that did not require a bachelor’s degree and made an average annual salary of $55,000 (Carnevale, Strohl, & Ridley, 2017). 

You know how I said earlier, “no pressure”. That’s not just a witty line in a blog post. It’s a very serious statement. Right now… at this very moment in time…. you do not (I repeat DO NOT) have to pick out a career for the rest of your life. Phew! Isn’t that a relief? 

  1. Embrace the reality that your career may change over time… and that’s okay!

We no longer live in a society where we start and end our careers in the same company or even the same field. Our grandparents might have been doing the same job for the last 45 years but this is no longer the norm. Recent statistics show that the average person changes their job 12-15 times during their working career with the average time of employment per job being less than 5 years (Doyle, 2018). 

There are multiple reasons why employees change jobs so frequently such as higher pay, career advancement, relocation, seeking a work-life balance, etc (Doyle, 2018). Some employees decide after years of doing one job that they need an entire career change… and that is okay! Recognizing that choosing a career does not have to determine what you will be doing the rest of your life relieves quite a bit of pressure. Doesn’t it? 

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the first two steps to helping you choose your career path. I pray that these steps provided you with peace of mind and less anxiety as you continue to follow where God leads you. Look out for part two of this blog where we discuss the final three steps. God Bless! 

*If you need further help in this area, please contact our office to set up an appointment with a counselor. Call us at (434) 239-4949.


Carnevale, A.P., Strohl, J., & Ridley, N. (2014) Good jobs that pay without a BA: A state-to-state analysis. Georgetown University on Education and the Workforce.

Dennis, Betty D. (2007)  Retaining Exploring Students: A Comparison Study of Decided and Undecided College Students. Dissertations. 850. http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/dissertations/850

Doyle, A. (2018) How often do people change jobs? The Balance Careers. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-often-do-people-change-jobs-2060467

Gordon, V. N. (1995). The undecided college student: An academic and career advising challenge (2nd. ed.). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *