It’s one thing to have a job that you enjoy, but turning it into a meaningful career is the way to ensure long-term financial security and professional fulfillment. Taking the time to lay your career and educational groundwork today can ensure that you succeed in a lifelong career that fits your skills and interests.
Whether you’re starting completely new or looking to transition an existing job into a career, it’s helpful to develop a career pathway. The specifics of the plan may change over time, but setting goals for yourself and planning for how to reach them is the best way to achieve the end that you have in mind.
What you’re likely to see while planning your path is the need to obtain education and training. In fact, you may need to acquire several credentials over time in a chain and “stack” them credentials on top of each other.
The benefits of credentials
Taking the time to research, enroll and complete training and degree programs may seem like an obstacle, but you should look at it as an important opportunity to really build to the career that you have in mind.
- It usually means higher pay. The National Center for Education Statistics compiled data through 2012 that showed that associate degree holders aged 25-34 make about 50 percent more than adults who haven’t earned a high school diploma, and that difference only increases with higher degrees. Just earning a community college certificate for a particular field can mean 30 percent higher wages.
- You’ll develop professionally. A degree or certificate may only be the entry point, but earning additional credentials or repeatedly keeping up with professional development requirements, as some fields require, can mean advancing at your workplace and in the field.
Your job responsibilities may change, and you may see promotions to higher levels of responsibility as you prove your ability and commitment. As you combine experience with this training and education, you may even find yourself in a management position, making key decisions about the work that you and others do.
- It can lead to new opportunities. Just because you started with one set of goals doesn’t mean that you have to stay on that path forever. As you learn more and acquire different responsibilities, you may discover new skills and get opportunities to expand into roles you never expected.