This column originally appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal on Feb. 8, 2015.
People decide on a career for any number of reasons: personal interest, natural talent, suggestions from friends or family. Yet, an important factor—the market need for workers in a particular job—is often lower in the consideration set or not considered at all. Especially for professionals in the workforce considering a career change, doing research about job trends can help you focus on an in-demand career with future growth. Here are three key areas to consider when choosing a career or making a change:
1. Think about the lifestyle you want
Your career is more than just a job; it’s a significant portion of your life, especially if you’re working full time. Consider work/life balance, your desired salary, and what type of work you are willing to do. What type of community do you want to live in? Think about schools, libraries, local activities and events. Do they match your desired lifestyle?
2. Be aware of job market needs
Like any other area of the economy, the demand for certain jobs is dependent on larger market trends. If you’re not willing to move, think about what industries or employers already exist in your city and which jobs are scarce. For example, Madison is a great place to look for jobs in education, government, insurance, biotech, healthcare, technology, hospitality, retail and non-profits.
According to Dennis Winters, chief economist at the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, job openings in south central Wisconsin will continue to grow, with a focus on health care, IT, high-tech manufacturing, and skilled trades.
The 10 most in-demand careers (above average growth, wages and openings) in south central Wisconsin (Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Jefferson, Marquette, and Sauk counties) for the next five years (based on projections from 2010-2020) will be:
- Registered Nurses
- Computer Support Specialists
- Accountants and Auditors
- Management Analysts
- Computer Systems Analysts
- Public Relations Specialists
- Software Developers, Applications
- Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists
3. Research your ideal job
If you have a particular job or industry in mind, do some research. Take a look at typical job duties, opportunities for advancement and salary. Make sure you also look at projections for openings over the next 5-10 years. Then talk with people who are working in the position in which you are interested. They will have the most current information regarding their field, including the latest industry trends.
If you are thinking about launching your own business, it’s even more important to research local and regional market needs to gauge demand for your idea. Seek out local resources for entrepreneurs, including UW–Madison’s Small Business Development Center, incubators like gener8tor and community organizations like 100state.
“UW–Madison and Epic are also sources of new spinoff companies that generate new jobs and economic growth in the region,” Winters says. “Moreover, the nature of the businesses developed out of UW, Epic and incubators are usually new products and services with cutting edge technology and highly-skilled, well-paid employees.”
Lastly, if you want to stay in a certain city or region, make sure the area has job openings in your current or desired career. If you’re willing to move, your career options are endless!
April McHugh is a career and educational counselor for the Division of Continuing Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. McHugh helps adults with career transitions and continuing education through individual sessions and workshops. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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