Choosing a career path means answering the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some seem to know the answer seemingly from birth, but for most of us, finding a career can feel bewildering. 

What are we good at? What do we like to do? What professions offer the most opportunity for the future? What career path should I take? Do I even have a shot at it? These and more questions need to be addressed when learning how to choose a career path.

To help you begin your journey, here are five useful pointers for finding a career that’s right for you.

What is a career path?
Simply put, a career path is a plan that lays out the job titles and positions you want to hold as you move forward in your chosen occupation. It can be an organizational career path for climbing the career ladder within a company, or a personal career path based on your skills, interests and values that you can pursue through a variety of employers in your field. Whatever path you choose, remember it’s just a starting point. Be open to where it can take you.

How to choose a career path

Finding your career is a matter of knowing yourself, identifying your interests and abilities, understanding the opportunities available to you, and acquiring the skills necessary for going after your dreams.

1. Identify what you’re passionate about

The first thing you need to consider is what you enjoy doing, the types of activities and interests you could pursue every day and not get bored with them. If you like lots of human interaction, for example, you may look into sales, education, or business management. A passion for math and science points toward a career in engineering, technology or medicine. A love of sports might lead to coaching, fitness instruction or sports management. Make a list of everything you’re into and see where it leads.

2. Know what you’re good at 
Assess your current skills and capabilities. Ask your managers, coworkers or classmates for feedback on what they see as your strengths. Reflect on your work and school history to identify any hidden talents. Did you gain experience from a side hustle that made you particularly adept at newfound tasks or abilities? Whether they are technical or artistic, interpersonal or self-directed, physical or intellectual, knowing your abilities will help guide your career choices.
3. Understand your personality
The better you know yourself, the more likely you are to choose a career that suits you. There are a number of different tests that help you discover your personality type, one of the most popular of which is the Myers-Briggs Type (MBTI) personality inventory. This test will help you determine if you’re a good fit for certain professions by measuring such factors as whether you're more of an introvert or extrovert, how you respond to situations, and the way you make decisions.
4. Research potential careers
You can start by identifying certain occupations that interest you, such as journalist, veterinarian or patent attorney, to name three at random. Or you could research industries that attract you, such as entertainment, medicine or finance, and discover the kinds of jobs available to you. Get to know the salary ranges, work environments, and growth prospects of these fields, and find out what it takes to get started in them.
5. Get training and education in your chosen field
A great way to explore career options is to take an online course or training in a professional area of interest. Continuing and professional education is also excellent preparation for entry into many careers, helping you acquire the skills, knowledge, or any licensing or certifications that might be required to practice certain professions. You will not only enhance your education and expertise, but expand your opportunities through connecting and networking with other professionals on your path.
What if you want to change careers?
You wouldn’t be alone. Most people make a career change at some point during their working lives. Many go through several as their skills and interests evolve. The good news is we live in a mobile society that supports change and development. As technology advances and the economy grows, new opportunities open for people at any stage of their career path. With the right experience, and continuing and professional education to fill in missing skills or knowledge, you have the potential to successfully transition at any point in your career.
Pave your career path with Arizona State University
Through ASU Career Catalyst, Arizona State University offers continuing professional education courses that encourage you to explore your passions and reach for your goals.

As a top-tier university for innovation, ASU applies its unparalleled core of knowledge to inform and educate learners in a comprehensive array of professional competencies, ranging from foundational professional skills, to immersive leadership experiences, to advanced technical education in emerging fields. Through ASU CareerCatalyst, ASU develops world-class continuing education solutions that empower all learners to thrive in the future of work at every stage of their careers. 
Connect with ASU to learn how it can help you find a career path that matches your passions and abilities, and get the training and education you need to achieve your goals.