If you’re still at a young stage in your life, you should stop and think about your professional development if you still haven’t considered it seriously. This is not something you can just leave to random chance, and you should have a determined, focused approach if you want to maximize how much you’ll earn along the way. Sure, money is not everything – but it’s the main reason for working a job in the first place, and it certainly won’t feel bad to get a little extra cash for your hard contributions.
It’s not that hard to plan ahead, even if it might seem like an overly convoluted ordeal nowadays. Sure, there are many paths you can take. But not all of them will be viable for you personally, and you can quickly weed out the bad candidates as long as you know yourself well enough. There are also some other considerations you should make if your personal finances are your main concern though.
The Market Won’t Always Look the Same Way
The job market is a dynamic thing, and it keeps evolving at a very rapid pace. This is especially true in tech fields and certain other industries. You can’t expect the situation you see today to be indicative of what’s going to happen tomorrow in any way. This means that you should try to develop yourself in a flexible and easily adaptable manner. This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who just get tunnel vision when choosing the skills they want to work on, and end up in a rather inflexible situation.
Certain Skills Will Always Be Valuable
That said, there are also certain things that will probably not go out of fashion anytime soon. Medicine is a good example of that – it’s a field that has seen much evolution in recent decades, but at the same time, the underlying knowledge is still the same. Software development – and programming in particular – is also a field that can be expected to remain relatively rigid in the long run. Even as AI starts to take over, it will probably take a long time before it’s reached the point where it can comfortably produce programs from just specifications.
In general, try to pick skills that are less likely to be hit by the upcoming automation wave. Whether you like it or not, that’s happening sooner or later. Many areas are going to be affected, especially those related to manual labour. It’s not a wise idea to start developing a career as a professional driver right now, for example.
Think about the long-term prospects of the job you’re choosing as well. Not every career is the same in this regard. In some lines of work, you’ll be expected to stick around for much longer and work harder until you’re “allowed” to retire. And in some cases, the retirement itself will be nothing to write home about.
Somewhat surprisingly, this is often tied to jobs with good short-term prospects. In other words, careers that tend to pick up fast and start producing a lot of money early on usually fizzle out too quickly afterwards, and are not sustainable in the long run. Athletes are a good example of that – unless you have the qualifications to get in the top percentages of your corresponding sport by the time you’ve reached 30, you are probably not looking at a very lucrative life after that. When you can’t perform on the field anymore, you’ll have to rely on sponsorships, endorsements, and generally selling your image. And not many people in this line of work have a good enough image to sell when they reach that point.
Money Is Not Everything
Last but not least, contrary to the main point of this article, remember that money is not absolutely everything. There are some career paths out there that have a very strong earning potential, but will absolutely crush you with the amount of work they require – not to mention the mental strain. Some people can take that, but for the most part, you’re probably better off sticking to something more in the middle. It’s not worth feeling burned out when you reach the point of retirement. Sure, you’ll have a nice pile of money saved up. But with no energy to enjoy it, what’s the point?
If this seems like a difficult decision, that’s because it is. Planning your career is something that really falls on you and nobody else. You can’t shift the decision to someone around you, and you can’t expect someone to pick up the workload that you’ve signed up for. The only thing you can do is sit down and think carefully about what you’re truly good at, and whether that’s a marketable skill that you can comfortably see yourself performing for the next few decades or so.