4 Skills & 4 Steps to a Successful Career

4 Skills & 4 Steps to a Successful Career


Today we are going to talk about preparing
for life after high school; getting a job; finding a career; and earning a living. The
question, of course, is what does success really look like? The American workforce has
changed a lot recently. Occupations in every industry now require a combination of both
academic knowledge and technical skills. One without the other is no longer enough; having
both makes you more employable. Today, we want all high school students to
graduate ready for both college and careers. In the next few minutes, you’ll understand
how to match who you are with who you want to be and ultimately how to get there. As
you prepare for your future, you’ll need to develop skills in four specific areas to
achieve your dreams. Every day in school, you are gaining academic
skills and knowledge. The classes you are taking matter in the world of work. But it’s
not just about getting good grades. Challenge yourself to learn how to apply the knowledge
you are taught. Apply theories and concepts to real-world problems. This will help you
be more competitive upon graduation and you’ll have additional options. You can also earn
college credit now while still in high school through articulation, dual enrollment, or
concurrent enrollment. So, take your classes seriously and become the strongest reader,
writer and thinker you can be. Adults are expected to know other things,
like life skills. These are about every-day real world survival. They include things like
how to bounce back after a bad experience, how to manage money and create a family budget,
and how to remain healthy through good nutrition. Life skills will give you a strong foundation
for your future. Local employers also expect certain things
of people they hire; these are called employability skills. In fact, people who get the best jobs
and keep them have this nailed. Employers expect you to have these skills from your
very first day on the job. Things teachers often ask you to do, like meeting deadlines,
working in teams, and organizing projects; these are employability skills. Learning how
to manage your time, creatively solve problems, and communicate appropriately will help you prepare for the world of work. Then, there are technical skills. These can
be very industry-specific. They include the ability to apply what you have learned to
working a computer, running a machine, or monitoring a patient’s heart rate. High
school students that are savvy with skills in areas of interest to them will find jobs,
keep them, and get promoted more quickly. Find ways now to earn certificates and industry
credentials in technical fields on your way to graduation. Each of these four areas matter to adults,
including college professors and employers. Local employers will want to know what you
can do, and what you can do well; not just what diploma hangs on your wall. In fact,
technical skills are part of the new currency in today’s world. So, how do you position yourself for high-wage,
in-demand jobs? First, you need to understand the difference
between average wages versus what you can project to earn. Let’s say you were considering
a career as either an electrician or a business manager. You would find that the average annual
income for electricians is $51,000, only about half of the $105,000 average wage for management
occupations. So, at first glance it looks as if getting a bachelor’s degree in business
is a no-brainer, but adding skills and ability into the picture adds a whole new dynamic.
What if you have the potential to become an excellent electrician, but lack the skills
and ability to be an excellent manager? Then you should be looking at projected incomes
towards the bottom of the pay scale for managers and towards the top for electricians. You
would then discover that electricians near the top of the pay scale make around $86,000;
far higher than the income of a manager near the bottom of the pay scale at $52,000. Now, this is just one example, but the concept
is true throughout all industries. The claim that you will make more money with an increased
amount of education is not necessarily inaccurate, it’s just incomplete. That advice is based
just on the averages. But no one is perfectly average. Everyone has unique skills, talents,
and interests. Truth is, the income for the top people in a wide variety of technical
jobs is higher than the average income for many occupations that require a Bachelor’s
degree. So, you’re probably wondering what you need
to do to get started. Here are 4 steps to position yourself for a successful career
at the top of the pay scale. First, learn about yourself and your talents.
You must take a career assessment to really get to know your personality strengths and
your interests. Ask yourself, “What do I love to do?,” as well as “What am I good
at doing?” These are very different questions. Identifying your core talents and skills will
help you select some careers that align with your strengths. Knowing yourself is the first
strategy to really figuring out what you will be successful at and enjoy doing. Second, explore all of your possible career
options. Today there are over 800 different jobs organized into 16 industry clusters.
That’s a long list of possible careers. Research the jobs you are interested in and
find out the education, experiences, and cost required. There is a lot of information online,
and we also encourage you to talk with someone already in that field to learn more. It is
not too soon to find out as much as you can. Identifying those careers that align with
your personality and interests will help you make better decisions about your first career. After researching all the possibilities, the
third step is to then set a tentative career goal based on your interests and abilities;
and be sure to consider the range of wages in your local area in alignment with what
you learned about yourself. This career doesn’t have to be what you want to do for the rest
of your life; just set a goal of what you want to do first. The fourth step is to create a 10-year plan.
This plan should include your tentative career goal, the education and training you’ll
need, and the realistic steps you plan to take to get there. Having such a plan will
help you when you pursue an internship, select a college major, and seek employment. Also,
be sure to make both a Plan A and a Plan B. Setbacks are inevitable; but don’t worry!
It’s how you respond to these challenges that matter. We suggest developing strong
coping skills and learning how to work well in teams. It is important to be able to pivot
quickly and persevere down an alternative path towards your goal when obstacles arise. The academic knowledge, career awareness,
and technical skills you gain during high school will serve you well as you pursue your
next steps in life. And that’s how you position yourself for
a successful career. Focus on acquiring academic skills & knowledge, life skills, employability
skills, and technical skills while you work through these 4 steps. Just always be true
to who you are, strive to fulfill your full potential, and bring passion to whatever you
do.

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