How to Choose a Fulfilling Major and Career

Choose a Fulfilling Major and Career

With endless options, how can you choose a fulfilling major and career that match who you are as a person? It’s an important question—the World Health Organization reported that most of us will spend a third of our adult lives at work. We’ll spend decades doing it—averaging about 84,171 hours over a lifetime. In this article, we’ll give you 8 things to consider that will help you choose the right major and career. Let’s make that third of your life as fulfilling as possible!

Get a Head Start

If you have a job, family, and bills to pay, it can be awfully hard to switch career paths. Identifying a fulfilling career before you graduate college, or better yet, before you graduate high school, can save you a lot of time down the road.

Choose a Major Before a University

Universities have strengths and weaknesses. If you’re studying engineering, a school like MIT could be a great fit. If you’re heading toward pharmacy, the University of Michigan might be a better choice. With almost 3,000 four-year colleges in the U.S., your major choice will help refine the list of what universities are best for you.

Take Interest Assessments

No one knows you like yourself. Interest assessments help you bring your own personality and preferences to light. The best-known of these is perhaps the Strong Interest Inventory. The O*NET Interest Profiler is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, and made available for free here.

While interest tests are a great tool, there is one glaring weakness: they won’t go far beyond what you already know. If you don’t have a good understanding of specific jobs—or your own strengths and interests—your results might not be insightful.

Discover Your Aptitudes

Basketball can be pretty fun when you’re running around and dunking on everybody. On the other hand, if you’re that guy throwing bricks off the backboard, you might have a much different perspective on the sport. There’s a principle here: we humans often enjoy what we’re good at.

Aptitude testing takes this approach to careers. It attempts to identify jobs you would be good at, and lets you pick one you’d enjoy. Your high school skills in math, science, and other subjects can also be a useful tool in analyzing your aptitudes and choosing a career.

Consider the Lifestyle

Pilots are often away from home for 3-5 days at a time. Medical careers can involve working night shifts and weekends. Most firefighters work 24-hour shifts. As you consider careers, take the lifestyle into account, and consider what kind of lifestyle you would enjoy.

Count the Cash

Imagine two workers are hired by a moving company. One earns an annual salary of $25,000 and the other receives $150,000. Even with the exact same job responsibilities, their job satisfaction is likely to be quite different.

Earning a higher salary can also allow you to retire early or work fewer hours, so you can spend more time on other activities you find fulfilling. There’s a lot more to a job than the salary, but that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant.

Of course, scholarships can help you avoid too much college debt, even if your chosen career isn’t the most lucrative financially.

Study Up

“A day in the life” articles and videos are amazing resources. From the comfort of your couch, you can get a picture of what daily life would look like as a statistician, or an ICU nurse, or a speech-language pathologist. 

These resources may help you cross out a few careers on your list, while piquing your interest in others.

Job Shadow

Once you’ve narrowed your options down, job shadowing is the best way to get an accurate view of the career you’re considering. While videos and articles will often show the highlights of a job, shadowing will give you a much fuller perspective.

The best way to learn if you like doing something is to do it, or at least get as close as possible, and that’s what job shadowing offers.

Choose a Fulfilling Major and Career

We hope this article has given you some great ideas and action steps to choose a fulfilling major and career! It’s one of the more significant decisions you’ll make, but armed with the right information, it’s very possible to find a college, major, and career that you love.