Whether you’re new to the world of work, or just looking for a change, several career paths stand out as attractive in 2023.
The average person spends around 80,000 hours on their career. How this time is spent really matters. But exactly which career is right for you?
Whether you’re just starting off on your journey, or you’ve reached a fork in the road and you’re looking to change direction, it’s worth doing a little bit of research before you take the next step.
What makes a good career?
It’s difficult to make definitive prescriptions when it comes to career choices. Your career should ideally play to your strengths, and make a good match for your lifestyle. If you’re looking for something hands-on, then too much screen time in your working day may be undesirable.
And how long should your working day be? You might want to work every hour that you have available, or you might want to clock off at 3 pm and pursue other interests. You can’t do that if you’re an on-call doctor, but you might be able to do it if you’re a decorator.
A good career can be thought of as fulfilling four criteria:
- You need to be paid.
- You need to be good at what you do.
- You need to do something that’s useful to the world.
- You need to do something you love.
These are the four things that underpin something called Ikigai (or 生き甲斐). This Japanese term loosely translates as ‘reason for being’. It was made famous recently by a book of the same name by Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia.
You might call Ikigai your ‘calling’. Finding your calling isn’t easy — but the closer you get, the more rewarding your professional life will be.
In the West, this concept has found mainstream traction when presented as an overlapping Venn Diagram. From these four things stem all of the benefits that we look for in a career, more or less.
If you’re good at what you do and what you do is useful to other people, then you’ll have the opportunity to advance your career. If you’re doing something you love and you’re being paid for it, then you’ll have job satisfaction.
How do I know what is a good career for me?
This is a question with an answer that might take years to unearth. You might even think that you’ve found your perfect career, only to change your mind later on. So it’s normal to feel a little bit uncertain. We’ve covered the topic in our blog on how to choose a career — but let’s revisit it briefly here.
If you’re unsure of what you’d like to do with your life, you might find it helpful to answer a list of questions designed to establish whether you’d make a good doctor, architect or sports journalist.
An aptitude test is a rough-and-ready way to get an idea of what you’re good at. Tests of this kind are not perfect, and the results may sometimes run contrary to what you really understand about yourself. But that can be instructive, too.
If you get the results of a test and you’re disappointed by them, then you’ll know exactly what you really want them to be. In some cases, you might get that idea before you even read the results!
It might be that you finish school (or, don’t finish school) and you don’t really know what you’d like to do with the rest of your life. In fact, some people wait for decades before they discover their one true calling — if such a thing really exists.
Take your time
If you’re unsure of where to go next, it might be a good idea to explore your options more thoroughly, and perhaps even to take a break and get to know yourself during a year out.
Thanks to the modern internet, you’ve got the luxury of access to flexible learning opportunities, and the opportunity to change direction if you feel that you’ve taken a wrong turn.
Choose your own path
It’s also worth making yourself aware of a few of the mistakes you might make when you’re first setting out. Don’t forge a career to please other people. Just because your mother wants you to be an endocrinologist doesn’t mean you need to be one.
More broadly, don’t feel that you have to pursue an academic career when you’d really prefer a vocational one. If you’re looking for inspiration, then check out our blog on the highest paid jobs you can do without a degree.
Having several different careers over the course of a lifespan is increasingly seen not just as normal, but as rational. Changing your job in your thirties, forties or fifties might seem like a daunting prospect, but often the results can be worth it.
FutureLearn’s Future of Learning Report discovered that around 63% of us would be willing to try a career in a different industry and that 27% of us are willing to learn new skills, whatever our age.
If you’ve always wanted to be a novelist, or a carpenter, or a game designer, and your circumstances permit you to make the switch, then there’s no sense in persisting with a career you’re no longer enamoured with.
5 careers to watch out for in 2022
Hungry for inspiration? Let’s take a look at some of the more attractive career choices for this year.
Despite recent advances in AI and mechanised healthcare, nurses are going to be with us for a while yet. Perhaps they might even outlast doctors. This is therefore a career that’s reasonably future-proof, and that will provide huge amounts of job satisfaction if you have the right disposition.
So, where might an aspiring nurse start a new career in the profession? We have several nursing courses worth considering. These include:
- Start Your Career as a Healthcare Professional by the University of Leicester
- Nursing in Crisis? Exploring Current Challenges from the University of Coventry
- Introduction to Nursing: Bioscience, Psychology, and Sociology from the University of York
- Introduction to Nursing: The Role of Nurses Around the World from King’s College London
If you’d like to learn more about the importance of nursing and community health, you might check out our intermediate-level 10-week course in Public Health and Nursing. We’ve also got several useful open steps geared toward would-be medical professionals, each coming courtesy of a respected university or institution:
- How does the NHS work in England?
- Is there a doctor in the house? Who works for the NHS?
- The path to becoming a doctor
2. Software Developer
Our world is increasingly built upon software. A career in software development could therefore be highly satisfying — and highly lucrative. You could be responsible for the next TikTok or YouTube; more likely, you’ll have a hand in creating one of the thousands of lesser-known programs that serve many different purposes.
Programming skills are highly transferable, which means that you’ll be able to move on to something new whenever you’re ready for a new challenge. You might start a career creating video games, and eventually move on to calorie-trackers, metronomes, air-traffic-control systems, or just about anything else that takes your fancy.
In 2021, the government’s Digital Economy Council examined listings on popular job-search websites. It determined that more than 100,000 software development jobs were being listed on any given week. In other words, if you’ve got the right skills, there’s someone out there who’ll pay you.
Our ExpertTrack in Software Development Fundamentals is perhaps the ideal place to kick-start your career in coding. Alternatively, you might be interested in our Programming for Everybody with Python course. If you’re a bit more experienced, we have a wealth of other fantastic software development courses.
3. Data Scientist
According to research from Glassdoor, Data Scientist is the fifth most in-demand job in the UK, offering salaries pushing up against the £50,000 per annum mark.
This might not come as much of a surprise. The modern internet is awash with data. Understanding and analysing that data requires proficiency in a few different programs, many of which are household names. J
ust about everyone is familiar with Microsoft Excel, for example — but few of us really understand how powerful it is. If you can really get to grips with it, you’ll be highly desirable to employers.
So where’s the best place to start? Data Analytics for Business is a twelve-week course that will help you get the ball rolling on your new career in the field. You’ll learn how to analyse data in statistics, Microsoft Excel, and SQL. Looking for more options? Check out our full selection of data analytics courses.
4. Supply Chain Manager
The world is more interconnected than it ever has been. A modern product might be developed using materials and expertise from dozens of different countries, and be shipped from location to location before finally being sold worldwide.
The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the shift toward home delivery, meaning that the global logistics industry is hungrier than ever for those who know how to keep supply chains working – as highlighted by this report from Deloitte.
Optimising shipping costs means having a complete understanding of modern supply chains and how they really work. That’s where a supply chain manager comes in. This professional is there to assess the supply chain of a given business, and see where efficiency savings are to be made, and where problems need to be corrected.
Our ten-week course in International Logistics is a fantastic place to start your exploration of the subject. Then there’s our four-week course in Effective Supply Chain Management, from the Open University’s Business School.
Finally, aspiring supply-chain managers might look into Lean Logistics: Decision Making in Supply Chain Management, which is a two-week course from Coventry University.
Much of the planet’s wealth is biological and warrants special consideration when we think about economic issues. A bioeconomist has a deep understanding of several different fields, bringing them all together. Their expertise is sure to become more valuable over time, as alternative sources of food and fuel are sought.
Think about the ongoing climate crisis, habitat loss, food waste and population growth. These are all deeply multifaceted problems that will require specialised expertise to solve!
If you’d like a headstart in this branch of economics, then our course Bioeconomy: How Renewable Resources Can Help the Future of Our Planet might be a great place to start. Also worth considering is our six-week course in Promoting Human and Planetary Health: Tools for a Sustainable Future.
If you’d like a more extensive list of options, then you might check out our blog covering 14 jobs of the future,or our survey revealing the UK’s top five aspirational careers. We’ve also run through the pathways you’ll need to take to get there in our blog on the best courses for a career change.
How to change careers
More and more of us are deciding to change careers midway through life. You might start in one field and move on to the next within a few decades. That way, you’re always presented with something novel and interesting. There are few things worse than being stuck in a rut.
It’s often better to make a switch than it is to wait for the situation to resolve itself. Don’t fall victim to the sunk costs fallacy: the fact that you’ve already invested time and energy in a career shouldn’t prevent you from abandoning it if it’s no longer rewarding.
In some cases, it might just be a change of job that you’re looking for rather than a total career change. Doing the same work for a different organisation might result in an entirely different experience. Do you want a job change or a completely new career?
Changing careers in your 50s
Making a career switch later in life is much easier today than it was just a few decades ago. This is because it’s easier than ever to access high-quality educational materials through sites like FutureLearn.
You can arrange your learning time around your other commitments, and there’s no need to travel great distances to access the best tutors on the most obscure subjects.
The world of work and careers is different than it was just a few years ago, as we’ve detailed in our post on the changing careers landscape. So if it’s been a while since you were on the jobs market, it might be worth pausing to take stock.
How to get your dream job
Getting yourself qualified for a particular role is only half the battle (if that). You’ll also need to find the job in question, and persuade a few perfect strangers that you’re a good fit. This requires a few soft skills that might not be related to your field of study. You can improve these with the help of our course in How to Supercharge your Career.
Hunting for jobs
If you can’t find the job in the first place, you’ll be unable to apply for it. Cast as wide a net as possible by searching on several different job sites, and by building your network of contacts on sites like LinkedIn.
Once you’ve found a position, it’s time to apply for it. Your application should follow a pretty standard format, including both a CV and a cover letter. You can follow up on your applications later on.
It might be that you get a little bit of feedback that you can use to improve your process of searching and applying for other positions.
Our How to Succeed at Writing Applications course from the University of Sheffield will help you to craft a killer application, and ultimately to land the job you’re looking for.
Writing a great CV
Your CV (that’s Curriculum Vitae) should also follow a set format. If your would-be employer opens your CV and the first emotion they experience is irritation, then you’ll be at a significant disadvantage. That means keeping things succinct, legible, and direct. No Comics Sans!
Writing a cover letter
Your cover letter is a short piece of text that introduces you and explains why you’re applying for the job. It should outline your expertise, background and experience. If you’ve moved from one career to another, then you should focus on your transferable skills.
Preparing for interviews
The interview is something that many candidates dread. But it’s an opportunity to impress. You can prepare by running through some of the most frequently asked questions.
Make sure that you’re dressed appropriately, and that you arrive with plenty of time to spare. The University of Sheffield’s free How to Succeed at Interviews course is a great place to learn the ropes.
Your choice of career can be hugely consequential. Your time is limited, after all, and it’s only sensible to spend it in a way that’s enjoyable, useful and lucrative.
We’ve provided you with a little bit of guidance, but your decision will be informed by your personal preference and your aptitude. You might also take into account the likely direction that the world is taking: Building Your Career in Tomorrow’s Workplace is a course that will help you take this into account.
But, while it’s important to get your choice right, you shouldn’t feel that you’re tied to a particular career path. If you feel like you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere, it’s only sensible to go back and explore that tempting side-road.
Thanks to online education, this is something that more and more of us are doing!