12 Things to Consider When Comparing Careers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021

Published November 23, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Choosing a career is an important decision. When deciding what kind of career you want, it's a good idea to make a list of possible careers you may be interested in. This way, you can compare them against each other to determine which path is the right fit for you. In this article, we share what factors you should consider when comparing careers.

Related: Choosing a Career Path in 9 Steps

Why is comparing careers important

Comparing careers is important because it can help you determine which career path is the right fit for you. Rather than choosing one career right away, it's smart to consider your options. There are plenty of careers to choose from, making it important to explore what a few have to offer. While you may think one career is the right choice for you, you may discover that another career better fits your interests and skillset. Exploring your options is how you can learn more about yourself and what you want out of a profession.

Related: Deciding on Your Ideal Career: Considerations and Steps to Success

What to consider when comparing careers

Here is a list of factors to consider when comparing careers:

Salary

Use Indeed's salary search to see what the average salary is for each occupation you are researching. You can find out what the national average salary is for that position, or refine your search based on a specific location. While money isn't always everything, you do need to consider it when choosing a career. You should be aware of what kind of wage you will be making with your career of choice so that you can spend and save accordingly.

Benefits

While the benefits and perks you get with a job can vary by company, certain careers are often guaranteed benefits. For example, if you work as a police officer your entire career, you could receive a pension upon retirement. Likewise, if you go into a full-time office job, it's likely that you'll get benefits, like paid time off, paid holidays, healthcare and retirement fund contributions. Having good benefits can save you a lot of money over the years and ensures you can take care of yourself and your family.

Related: Q&A: Which Career Should I Choose?

Education

Figure out how much education you'll need to be qualified for the jobs you're looking at. If you're someone who would like to get through school quickly, consider a trade job. Many of them only require you to attend technical school for a couple of years. If education is your passion, then consider a career that would require you to get a master's or a doctorate degree. When determining your educational path, keep your budget in mind. While school loans are often available, it's important to be able to eventually make those loan payments.

Training

In addition to school, many careers require additional training. For example, if you plan to become a physician, you often have to complete at least two years of residency. Less intensive careers tend to require some kind of training too. See if you'll need to complete any apprenticeships or internships before being qualified for a full-time position. Determine if you have the time, patience and resources to be able to complete such training.

Job outlook

The job outlook of your career can help you determine if it will be in demand when you are ready to enter the workforce. Search for your job title using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' website. This database can tell you all about the projected outlook for your career. It can also tell you other valuable information, such as the work environment, pay, training requirements and similar occupations to look into.

Related: How to Decide Between Multiple Job Offers

Duties

Find out what kind of tasks you'll be responsible for in a given occupation. Search for job postings to see what kind of duties employers list for that particular job title. You could also sign up for a job shadow so you can see exactly what a professional with the career you want does during their average day. Reach out to your contacts for an informational interview too. When you meet, you can ask them various questions about their career. Here are a few to get started with:

  • What does your average day of work look like?

  • How did you decide on this career?

  • What did you do to get this job?

  • Do you have any advice for someone getting into this career?

Work environment

Knowing the work environment of different careers can help you determine which ones are best for you. Determine if you are the kind of person who wants to work on a computer all day or if you are interested in something more active. Likewise, think about whether you want to interact with customers or if you are the kind of person who'd prefer to work behind the scenes. Also, consider what your actual workplace will look like. The average day for someone working in an office is going to be a lot different than someone who does manual labor outside.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Job vs. a Career

Company culture

Some industries are more casual and laid back while others are strictly professional. You can get a sense of a company's culture by looking at its website and social media presence. If you are unsure of what kind of company culture you prefer, try out a few different internships. They can help you determine what kind of company is the best fit for you. You may find that you want to make close bonds with your coworkers, or you may discover you'd rather have more independence to focus on your work.

Advancement

If you have big aspirations for your career, then you need to pick one that has room for growth. See if an entry-level job in this career could eventually lead to a management or leadership role. Research what kind of additional training or education you would need to progress in your career. You may even find that you could advance in one career just by gaining experience over the years.

Employee satisfaction

Some careers are more fulfilling than others. Try to find any studies or surveys that may help you determine how content people in this field are with their jobs. Along with finding quantifiable data, reach out to people you know in this career. Ask them how happy they are with their jobs. See if they would still choose this career if they had the chance to start over again. If they would, this could be a good sign that this is a fulfilling career.

Location

Certain careers require you to move in order to find job openings. While retail jobs may exist in all types of locations, you may need to move to a big city if you want to become an actor or entertainer. Figure out which cities are the center for the kind of career you may want. Then, do research to determine if you could see yourself living in this location. Consider things like living expenses, transportation, crime rates, housing, things to do and entertainment when deciding if you'd want to move to a particular city.

Work-life balance

Some jobs will make it easy to balance your home life and professional life, while others may require you to be on call at all hours of the day. You need to see what kind of time commitment your career of choice is going to require. While some people thrive on being busy all the time, others need the evening to rest and relax. Try to get a realistic understanding of how much time and energy you will need to commit to your career.

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