Archives for July 2013

How Employment Links to Career Choices

Change Career – millions are considering it and there are millions of things to consider. Where to begin?

What is changing is the world around you. At your core you are changing very little. Scientists know that by the time you reach adulthood your brain is wired by your experiences.You are who you are. The first challenge is to match who you are with the new opportunities and make the best choice that fits you. There are lots of career choices, many with very attractive salaries and growth opportunities.The US Department of Labor lists almost a thousand in America alone.

Buzz TodaySource: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 195,000 in June (2013) and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.6%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Source: What Color is Your Parachute? In March 2012 4,356,000 people found work and there were 3,737,000 job vacancies waiting to be filled. That is a total of 8,093,000 employment opportunities.

So, contrary to what some are saying, the problem is not a lack of employment opportunities. What is confusing is that every month the popular press focuses on the unemployment rate and the net new jobs created in the last month. Recently the new jobs number has been around 180,000 per month. But what is more important to the career change decision, is the fact that every month American companies recruit and hire millions of new employees, not merely a few hundred thousand reported as new jobs.This adds up. Over a year’s time this means that there are actually tens of millions of opportunities to find a job in a new career.

The real challenge for the career changer is to decide the key question: Which of these tens of millions of opportunities do I go after? And even more important – how do I decide? Here are some suggestions to help guide you onto the right path.

Think of a career as what you DO with your life.The key to making the right choice is to make sure that what you do matches who you are as a person. Many go through life trying to figure out what they want to do “when they grow up”. They are looking for purpose and from that personal happiness. Sadly millions never find their answer. The career changer has a unique opportunity to link their doing with their being and from that develop purpose and happiness.

Who you are is fixed. You can learn new skills but in the end none of us get to fundamentally change who we are as an adult. So the first thing the career changer has to do is find out who they are. There are very good scientific instruments to help them do just that. Many are listed in my book “Your Future is Calling.” It is a place to begin.

Once the career changer has an objective read on who they are, they need to look at good information on the doing part of the career choices. Here again, there is good objective information available on the specific career choices available. The very comprehensive web site O*NET provides excellent information on a host of critical career factors including what someone in that career actually does every day. This is the source of information on the doing part of the career choices.

The last pieces of the puzzle are to decide on what to learn and where to learn it for the new career.There are thousands of education programs at community colleges and four year institutions to develop the skills required to qualify for new career opportunities. Once the career that matches who you are is selected, course catalogs, course descriptions and costs are available at college web sites. In addition, the Department of Education maintains a comprehensive site of information about college programs and costs on a site called College Navigator. At this point the main challenge for the career changer is to select the major and the college that is the best buy for the career chosen.

At the beginning, a career change decision feels overwhelming mainly, because it is.There are millions of things to consider. The good news is that the range of choices narrows quickly when the match between who you are and what you do is made at the beginning. There is still a lot of data to look at and evaluate but all of that is relatively straight forward with a good road map. See “Your Future is Calling” for details on how to do this part of the career change decision.

Good Paying Jobs That Do Not Require a Bachelor’s Degree

There are good paying jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree but they do require skills that are changing as our world changes. Learning is still key to a better future. But how do you decide what to learn?  The answer is that you should begin with “who you are” then decide what to study that can lead to a better future for yourself and your loved ones. Buzz TodaySource: O*NET  The O*NET program is the nation’s primary source of occupational information. Every occupation requires a different mix of knowledge, skills, and abilities, and is performed using a variety of activities and tasks. The data base defines the set of occupations across the world of work. Based on the Standard Occupational Classification the O*NET-SOC taxonomy currently includes 974 occupations 

With so many occupations to select from, it is no wonder that readers are challenged to find just the right combination of factors needed to fit exactly “who they are”.  In this post we explore the important characteristics of a few of the 974 choices to show how a new career can be chosen.  I recommend that you look at several important characteristics for any career you may be considering.  These are:

* The size of the profession. This gives you an indication of how many jobs in this profession there are in the US economy. Here size matters. Larger professions provide more opportunities.

* Growth in the profession is another important parameter for you to consider.  As our world changes opportunities in different careers are changing as well.  Some careers attractive just a few years ago have already been impacted by changes.  A good example is desktop publishing.  Only a few years ago this was a growing job opportunity.  Today this profession is much less attractive with a very limited growth prospect.

* Earnings are another important piece of information in your career choice. Incurring student debt to earn credentials in a poorly paying occupation is a path to a dismal future.

* How well the occupation fits you is another important factor. This is the part about “who you are”.  Here again you need good data about personality and the characteristics of those already in the profession.

Here is data on a few of the 974 careers.  All of these require less than a bachelor degree and are reasonably accessible through education at a community college at a reasonable investment level.

Patrol Police Officer

This is a profession that, with the right personal history, is relatively easy to enter.  42% of current officers entered the profession directly from high school but an associate’s degree provides better prospects.  It is a large profession with 664,000 current positions growing by 249,000 (2010-2020).  The median pay is $55,270 per year.  This profession requires personal attributes that include integrity, self control, stress tolerance and attention to detail.

Dental Hygienist

This is a reasonably large job classification with 182,000 current positions with over two thirds occupied by professionals with an associate’s degree making it a relatively easy profession to enter through a very affordable path at a local community college. Growth is projected to be over 29% (2010-2020) and compensation in 2012 was highly attractive with an annual median income of $70,210.  In addition to technical training required, personality attributes that align with the requirements of the job include a good-natured and cooperative attitude.


This is a large employment category with employment of 256,000 with good growth projected over the next decade.  The median salary in 2012 was $46,990 annually. Apprenticeships by state are available.  In addition, certificates are available from The Association of Legal Assistants/Paralegals.   Personal attributes including attention to detail, dependability, and integrity.

Registered Nurse
This is a huge profession with 2010 employment at 2,737,000 with projected openings by 2020 of 1,207,400 professionals. This size and growth are being driven by new medical technology and the aging of the baby boomers. Compensation is attractive at a 2012 median level of $65,470 annually. Personality attributes important in this profession include concern for others, dependability, stress tolerance, self control and attention to detail.

Summary:   All of these careers can be entered with learning that is less than the traditional bachelor’s degree.  This makes learning a key but manageable entry to these attractive professional careers.

Online Courses – Five Important Things About MOOCs

Higher education is changing.  MOOCs are a recent innovation.  MOOCs are new. They represent a different model for learning. Here are important things you need to know about a MOOC.     Buzz TodaySource:  Wikipedia   A massive open online course (MOOC) is an online course aimed at large-scale interactive participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for the students.

Important Item #1   MOOC offerings are exploding.  Dozens of universities have jumped on the MOOC band wagon and are offering new courses at a feverish pace.  Many colleges are loading content from courses they developed earlier.  Others are creating new course content especially for MOOCs.  MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Harvard, Yale are among the prestigious universities offering courses in the MOOC format.

Important Item #2   There can be as many as a hundred thousand “classmates” in a given MOOC course.  While this might seem like a vary large class, it  is.  There is a reason they are called massively open online courses.  Your fellow MOOC classmates might include a ten year old kid and/or someone from Russia.  All are welcome.

Important Item #3   The graduation rate for MOOCs is very low.  The average graduation rate for traditional colleges and universities in America is close to 50% with prestigious Ivy League graduation rates over 90%.  The current completion rate for MOOCs today is less than 10% of those enrolled.  There is a reason.  While MOOCs have some support services they are largely self study in format.  The online delivery and format requires intense personal discipline.  Not everyone has the self discipline to complete the work.

Important Item #4  There are emerging online catalogs that list the exploding offerings.  One source is MOOC List.  It is unclear how long the writers of this blog will be able to stay up with the exploding course offerings.  For now it is a full listing of offerings

Important Item #5  MOOCs are not necessarily just about getting credits toward a degree. While there is an emerging way to get college credit, the majority of American colleges and Universities will not accept the new credit assignment process from the American Council on Education (ACE). But college credit is not the only reason you should be considering MOOCs as a step in your Learn Prosper pathway.  Tens of thousands of students are enrolling in one or more MOOCs because they just want to learn more about a specific topic.  One resource that is especially convenient with lots of small courses is Khan Academy.

The opportunity to learn prosper has not been available to many in the past.  Some simply could not afford to go to a campus full time to earn a degree. The MOOC has exploded onto the higher education scene.   Ten years from now the MOOC will be an integral part of higher education.  For now this development is in its infancy.  If you have any interest at all in learning you should try a MOOC to see how it fits who you are.   As I outline in Your Future is Calling, finding out who you are and how the areas relate to the career of your choice is the place to start. From there, a MOOC may be a great learning option for you.  Explore it.

How To Determine If College Can Help You and Improve Your Life

College is not for everyone. The question for you is whether college can help you have a better life.   Successful billionaires who dropped out of college are a popular topic these days. But these are less than a dozen people out of the tens of millions of us mere mortals trying to figure out how to create a fulfilling life for ourselves – what I call in Your Future is Calling, doing what fits who you are.  The odds are overwhelming that learning and earning a degree will improve your chances of having a better life.

Let’s look at scientific research for answers that can help you improve your life.       Buzz Today Source:  American Economic Review:  …estimate the returns to schooling by contrasting the wage rates of identical twins with different schooling levels.  The research takes monozygotic twins (from the same egg) which means that the twins are genetically identical and have similar family backgrounds.  What the researchers found was that an additional year of schooling increases wages by 12-16%.

The challenge you face is to determine the best course of action for yourself, not what has worked for someone else, including the billionaires cited above.  One way for you to think about this is to ask yourself if you are likely to become a  billionaire by not going to college.  Here I am not talking about winning the lottery.  Winning the lottery is a chance outcome not a plan.

On the other hand, you can make the odds of success work in your favor.  Here I am sharing three pieces of research that show how, on average, learning substantially improves your earning power.

Improve Your Life Item #1   The Twins research cited in BUZZ Today shows that for each year of schooling wages are increased 12-16%.  This is a truly amazing opportunity and is highly consistent with the data we see in Item #2 below.

Improve Your Life Item #2  For the American population as a whole, holders of bachelor’s degrees make 1.97 times the wages of a high school graduate.  This spread has actually grown over the past forty years.  The ratio was 1.44 in 1978.  What this means, is that a college degree has become even more important not less than important over the years.  You can see this data for yourself on page 13 of my book Your Future is Calling.   What you will also see is that the multiplier stays through recessions as well as good times.  Note also that the 1.97 for a four year bachelor degree is very consistent with the twins research in Improve Your Life Item #1 above.

Improve Your Life Item #3   The California Community System, with 112 campuses, are collecting data about the financial success of their graduates.  Details for 266 degrees and certificates are listed in tables at SalarySurfer.  The important information in this data is that it shows what the graduating students were earning 2 years before their schooling, then the wages of these same graduates earned 2 years and 5 years after graduation. As an example, graduates with a two year paramedic degree the data is:
2 years before:   $19,510
2 years after       $52,774
5 years after       $64,298
Under any scenario, these results represent a significant improvement in the lives of these graduates.

Some are able to improve their lives without formal education but for the vast majority of Americans, an education vastly increases the chances for an improved life.  It is up to you to determine which of the hundreds of careers best fits who you are.