Career Development

How to Make the Right Career Choice

There are many paths to pursue what you love. Here are simple steps to make the right career choice.

With so many career opportunities available, how do you choose the right career for you? Should you go for the highest salary? The most prestige? What your family wants for you? As the old saying goes, “do something you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” While passion and aptitude are important, there are still many careers that could fit that criteria.

For example, if you love horses, you could be a professional equestrian, a trainer, a veterinarian, or a stable manager. There are many paths to pursue what you love. Here are simple steps to make the right career choice.


The first step to make the right career choice is to thoroughly examine your skills, strengths, weaknesses, and interests. 

  • What do you love doing? 
  • What comes easily to you? 
  • What skill or quality do you have that can make a difference in the lives of others? 
  • What are your most important values? 
  • What makes you excited to do more?

Examining your unique talents and how they intersect with your interests will help to narrow the choices. There are self-assessments to help you understand your personality, interests, values, and skills.

In your self-evaluation, consider also what you have always admired. Do you think doctors are amazing? Does being a biologist and working with animals seem more like a dream job? Listen to those long-standing beliefs as well as current interests.

Gather Information

Next, make a list of all the possible careers that intersect with your personality, interests, values, and skills. At this point, the list can be quite broad. If you are interested in biology, you can list marine biology, molecular biology, genetics, microbiology, etc. Include any career that reasonably fits your priorities and skills.

It is also useful to make a spreadsheet of information about career paths. What is the average starting salary? Is it location dependent? What are the possibilities for advancement?


Now it is time to make a list of your priorities in terms of job benefits and specifics. Here are some points to get you started:

  • Are you willing to move anywhere? Preferred location? 
  • What is your desired starting salary? 
  • Do you need something intellectually challenging? 
  • Do you prefer to work alone or with a team?
  • Does the career path typically offer family-friendly benefits?
  • What are typical working hours?
  • Is there opportunity for financial growth?
  • Is there opportunity for continued education and intellectual growth?

If you decide that your top priority is to live in rural Minnesota near your family, then being a marine biologist would not be the most logical career path. Answering these questions as honestly as possible and then listing them in order of priority will help you to make a final short-list of options. 

Research Current Need

If you select a career that is in-demand in the area you want to live, you will have an easier time securing employment and advancing in your career. For example, just because it seems like marine biologists work in Seattle, is there a current market need or is the market over-saturated? Consider the ease of obtaining entry-level positions and the qualifications required to enter the field in your area of interest. 

Investigate a Short List

Once you have combined all of the previous steps, you should be able to make a short list of five careers or less that are your top priorities. Now is the time to talk to professionals in your fields of interest. Questions to ask include:

  • What are their workdays like? 
  • What do they love about their jobs?
  • What do they wish was different?
  • What advice do they have for someone new?
  • How have they grown as a person in their career?
  • Are they happy with their career choice?
  • How is the compensation?

While some of these questions are personal and answers will vary, they all provide key insight into what it would be like to have a career in your field of interest.  

Choose a Career 

Once you have interviewed professionals in all shortlisted careers, it is time to consider all the information you have gathered about career opportunities, locations, your desires and skills, and the actual experience of professionals in those fields. It is time to weigh the pros and cons and see what feels best. Now is the time to jump in!

Prepare to Succeed

The right career becomes a part of your life that not only pays the bills, but brings you a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. When you choose the right career, you have opportunities for growth, a sense of community of like-minded individuals and fulfillment of aspirations for yourself in pursuit of your passion. Continue to set goals for yourself and there will always be opportunity for growth!


Why being published matters so much for science careers

Back to Career Development

Why Professional Development is Important