How to Get an Education for Your Career, Not a Career for Your Education

Updated By Staff Writer on June 26, 2020

Are you in the career you want right now? Would you rather be doing something else? With or without a degree, many people end up in a profession because they simply asked, “How do I match my skills to a job?” and picked work they weren’t really interested in.

But what choice did you have? You probably have bills to pay and other responsibilities. Well, the ideal is to go back to college and get a degree that could take you directly into a certain profession that you really want.

Where Do You Want to Be?

With today’s specialized colleges, this is becoming more and more possible. You don’t have to let your current level of education dictate what you will do for the rest of your life.

Your current skills don’t have to be your final skills. Brain research has found that we all have the ability to continue learning indefinitely and to learn many more skills than we think we can.

So, what would you like to do? What profession interests you? Below, we’ll discuss how to go after the career and degree that you want.

Choosing a Career and Degree Based on Interest, Not Passion

Dr. Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, explains why you can’t trust passion when choosing a career or degree. Most people draw a blank when asked what their true passion is, especially if it’s supposed to sustain them for the rest of their lives!

Through an extended research project, Professor Newport found that many employees only discovered their passion by working hard at a job for several years and becoming truly great at it.1 They were then able to use their high level of skill to serve people and create a passionate calling in that way.

Staying Interested

If Dr. Newport is right, the process of choosing your profession is much different than just writing down your passion and choosing a career and degree that will supposedly make you happy.

Professor Newport advises you to instead think about a profession that:

  1. Interests you.
  2. Offers interesting future opportunities and possibilities for growth and contribution.

In other words, you don’t need an extreme passion for a profession from the start. You can simply be interested in it, curious, and start moving toward becoming great at it.

You might even have several professions that interest you! That’s okay. Smart people often have the ability to get good at a variety of skills. Humans don’t naturally specialize like insects do.

Research Your Interests

If you don’t have to know “your passion” right now, there’s less pressure. You can just find a little bit of interest and move forward with it.

Research a profession and interview people to find out what type of career ladder is available in it and what ways you’ll be able to contribute to the world in the future with it.

Also, find out what types of related opportunities a profession could open up. Becoming noteworthy with certain skills can lead to other activities. Here are some examples:

  • A journalist could end up being a book author.
  • A respiratory therapist could eventually work at a device manufacturer or could even start a specialized respiratory therapy company.
  • A business degree can lead to roles as diverse as human resources, marketing, and founding a company.
  • A technology degree could lead to working for the government in cryptography.
  • Narrowing Down Your Degree Options

So let yourself dream. Write down your ideas. Think about professions that would just be interesting to you. Imagine being that person. Would you be proud to tell others that that’s what you do?

A good way to defeat the problem of having too many choices is to pick a college that’s near to you, such as California College San Diego, and look through just the degree programs they offer.

If one those degrees looks really interesting, great! You could just choose it and start moving forward. There shouldn’t be a disaster caused by picking “the wrong one.” Remember, smart people are capable of excellence in several different professions.

If there are several possibilities, narrow it down and pick one. Even flipping a coin to decide between two programs, if they’re both interesting, is better than doing nothing. Plus, if you flip a coin and feel really disappointed about the program the coin flip chose, then go with the other program!

Taking a First Step Is Better Than Analysis Paralysis

No one knows the future. So it’s better to make a decision and then find out after taking a class or two whether you want to keep going forward or not.

Gathering Life Data

You have to gather more data to make a good decision! Sitting alone in a room won’t tell you what could happen. Only trying something out—taking action—can tell you that.

Of course, you could research the trends associated with a profession, seeing how much money professionals in the job could make in the future, how much the demand for the profession might grow, and so on.

Keep Your Eyes Open

However, salaries and trends might not help you as much as your own interest can. Many jobs have similar salaries, so salary can’t be your only criteria.

Plus, picking a job based only on how much money you can make might not feed the best impulses that you could have. Think instead of how much you can learn, how fascinating it could be to be a life-long learner, and how much you could serve other people by building a world-class skill.

The Great News about Adult-Oriented Colleges

Certain colleges now cater to your particular type of nontraditional college experience. If you’re already working and maybe even supporting a family, an institution like Independence University (IU) could be right for you.

This type of college admits many busy adults and understands your need to balance an education with your other responsibilities. Classes are 100% online, allowing you to work around your schedule.

Plus, only the most practical classes are chosen for each program—classes that will prepare you for a real career. Classes are not chosen just to give you the history of the career or teach info that you don’t actually need.

At IU, you can get a college education in a way that fits your lifestyle. You can pick an interesting career and a degree program that can lead directly to that career. And you can complete your courses at a pace that is comfortable for students in your situation.

If you’re ready to explore your career options, request more information from us online. Our friendly staff can answer your questions and help you find a degree program that may interest you.