Choosing a career is one of the toughest decisions students are faced with as they approach graduation from secondary school. A lot of students are at a loss when it comes to making decisions like these because so much seems to be at stake here: the future, financial freedom, social status, and happiness. They just don’t want to make any mistakes.

However, making a career choice should not be a Herculean task. It should not be done in a hurry when filling UTME forms. Ideally, every student should have an idea of what they would like to study in the higher institution, at least from their junior secondary days. Junior secondary presents an opportunity for students to offer all the subjects in the curriculum and develop flairs and preferences for some.
The choice of a career path to follow can be made with the guidance of a school counsellor, but the following general considerations should inform the choice of a career.

Interest and Passion

In choosing a career, interest and passion should be the foremost consideration. What do you have interest in? What do you enjoy doing the most? This is very important in making a career choice as it spells the difference between an enjoyable, fun-filled, fulfilling career and a miserable one. There are people in the noblest and most prestigious professions in the world who are not happy with their jobs. The secret to a happy career is passion for one’s job and a geniune interest in carrying out the day to day activities of the job. Perhaps the best career advice is to choose a job you will still want to do even without being paid. Let the primary driving force be your passion for the job and not the financial gain or status attached to it.

Skills, Competences and Inclination

Your skills and competences are the things you can do with relative ease. At the basic level, the considerations should be whether you have math skills or language and literary skills. Are you arts inclined or science inclined? Are you technically oriented or analytical in nature?

If you are an observant and inquisitive person with a flair for mathematics, then you may consider any of the science related careers. If on the other hand you love reading and writing, and just wish the curriculum planners could get rid of Mathematics so that life could be easier for you, then your inclination may be pointing you to any of the careers in the arts.

If you are still in junior secondary school and you want to study a course like medicine or engineering, you need to be good at Mathematics, Basic Science, Basic Technology and English Language. Passing these subjects with good grades will make it easier for you to do well in the science class in senior secondary. If you are thinking of becoming a lawyer, accountant, administrator or any of the numerous professions in the arts, you need to do well in Mathematics, Social Studies, Business Studies, and English Language, since passing these subjects will make you eligible for the arts class in senior secondary.

If you are in the senior secondary school or about to enrol for SSCE or UTME, your choice may have been half-determined already since you may be in either science or arts class. But before filling your exam forms and settle for a specific course, you want to be sure you have what it takes to study your choice course. A good step to take is to analyse your recent academic performance on a subject by subject basis in order to find the area where you have the best footing. Never be in a hurry to fill UTME forms as this is where a lot of students make hasty decisions that change the course of their lives forever. Don’t simply choose a course because a close friend chose it.

Course Availability

Before choosing a career it is wise to check if it is offered as a course in your preferred institution. All universities do not offer exactly the same courses. There are also slight variations in the courses available in higher institutions. For example, Economics is different from Economics and Statistics just as Electrical Engineering is different from Electrical/Electronics Engineering.

So before you fill your UTME form, be sure the instutition of your choice offers your dream course in the desired configuration or combination. If in doubt, perhaps turning to a counsellor, an older sibling, a parent or teacher might be helpful in this regard.

Career Relevance and Usefulness

One of the most future-proof factors to consider in choosing a career is its economic viability and ability to remain in demand in the face of changing economic landscapes.

A lot of careers are becoming obsolete as technologies and robots are deployed to do human jobs in virtually every sphere of economic life. For example, fewer bankers are now needed since ATM machines and e-banking changed how financial transactions are conducted. Many bankers have lost their jobs because it is more cost effective for banks to use these technologies than human manual labour.

A career that is very relevant today may become useless tomorrow. Therefore anyone who wishes to be successful in their chosen career must know how to read economic and technological trends as well as predict possible future developments.

Another angleto look at the relevance of a career path is in terms of its usefulness and recognition in a particular place. For example, there are courses offered in Nigerian higher institutions which have virtually no value in the Nigerian labour market. A lot of graduates are roaming the streets unemployed because their degrees have little or no relevance to real life job descriptions, at least, in this part of the world. As an example, do not study analog technology in a world that has gone digital.

Availability of Funds/Scholarship

Another thing to consider before choosing a career is whether or not you can afford to pay the fees through school.

Some courses are expensive to study. The cost of studying a course varies from institution to institution and it depends on the nature of the course and the level of competition for the few available seats.

For instance, without exaggeration, a textbook in medicine and surgery could cost as much as the whole tuition fee of another course of study. Medicine and surgery students would generally spend more than a student of mass communication.

The situation gets worse if the desired course is not available for study in a local institution. This means that the student would have to travel abroad if they wish to pursue their dream career.

Therefore one has to consider the amount of resources at their disposal or their economic background before opting for an expensive course, unless of course, they are opportune to benefit from some sort of scholarship.

  1. Naomi Unuane
    Naomi Unuane 2 years ago

    Wow…this is a very insightful article. That being said, I would love to know what a supposed learner is advised to do when what he or she is passionate about isn’t really relevant in the job market.

  2. Cliff Imasuen
    Cliff Imasuen 2 years ago

    One thing about passion is that it is internally motivated. Passion is not fuelled by economy or job marketability.

    A learner who finds that their passion has no present or direct value in the job market will not, and should not, dump the passion no matter what. However, if potential economic value is a major consideration, a few options are available to the learner.

    (I) Dare to become a pioneer in the field: Granted, sometimes the lines are blur between a pioneer and a martyr, but sacrifice can make a whole lot of difference. The fact that your passion is not economically viable today does not mean it won’t be tomorrow. Times change and so do taste and methods.

    (II) Develop a second or nth skill: The most successful people on the planet are those who are versatile and can adapt to changing times. You can develop a new skill to keep you afloat while you continue with your passion to keep the embers alive. The more skills you have under your belt, the more marketable you will become over time.

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