Dear Dr. Civitelli,
Our son is a carpenter who would like to do something different which would be a good job for the future. He is thinking of something to do with sports, teaching, or health related jobs like physical therapist assistant or occupational therapy assistant. His education is a BS degree in Professional Broadcasting. He enjoys people and has great communication skills. He is good at getting people to join in. Any career change advice that you can offer?
Dear Hopeful Parent,
You don’t say your geographic location or what school your son attended but the first thing I would explore is what type of career counseling is available for alumni through the university where he graduated. Many schools offer terrific and free or reduced fee resources to alumni, often via webinar/telephone/email so that distance isn’t a problem if he no longer lives in the same place he went to college.
Whether he gets help from his alma mater or from another local career counselor, one of the first things he might want to do to explore careers is to take a career assessment like the Strong Interest Inventory (SII). The SII doesn’t really tell you anything about yourself that you don’t already know, but it accelerates the process of self-exploration and would enable him to see how similarly he scores to people who are already happy and successful in their career fields.
I recommend that he write a “Wish List” about what he wants in a future career. Then he can compare his “Wish List” with each career being considered. This type of systematic analysis usually helps to avoid mentally spinning in circles and within 8-12 hours of research, some clarity usually begins to emerge.
One good resource to read about careers is the “Occupational Outlook Handbook” published by the U.S. Department of Labor. The Handbook outlines the training and education required for each career path, earnings, expected job prospects, what workers do on the job, and working conditions.
After your son narrows his career options to a handful of choices, it is helpful to talk to some people in those fields to see what career advice they can give someone who wants to make a career change into their career niche. You can find these people via your own network (neighbors, friends, church, his school’s alumni network, etc.) or through a career’s professional association. Here is an article I wrote about how to conduct an informational interview.
Finally, I recommend “taste testing” a future career by finding a way to get some experience rather than just reading about the job. By this I mean volunteering at a hospital before committing to a healthcare career or tutoring some children before deciding to become a teacher.
Career changes involve a process and it can take some time, but millions of people have done it and your son can, too.
Hope this helps!