What career should I choose that could help me get a good job and a good living?

Over my 25 years or so of career at number of companies, I have met, interacted or observed career of thousands of individuals across countries such as USA, India, Singapore and number of other markets. Over these interactions, I have observed there are four primary reasons why an individual selects a particular job or career and why they stay with it. They are:

1) Individuals who are passionate about something and they want to dedicate your time of pursuing it, irrespective of how much they get paid. You will see a number of talented and passionate individuals involved in community service, entrepreneurship, engineering, medicine, teaching etc. Some of these careers may provide you a good living and some of them may not, but if what you are doing is what you are passionate about, it is worth every minute of your investment.

2) Individuals who are in a job or career because they get paid a lot of money to do what they are doing. Many of these individuals may be totally satisfied with their job but even if they are not, they tend to stay with it given the overall compensation.  There are not many of us who do not like money and a good salary does take care of it irrespective of how satisfied you are with the job or your role.

3) Now, the third reason for many of us to select a career is around how much authority or power the career brings in society. For example, number of individuals who decide to go into a government job, especially in emerging market, fall into this category. This also starts becoming true for many in corporate jobs as they get into a senior role.

4) Lastly, many folks may not fall into any of the above categories and may just take any job that provides them income.

Now, lets get to the main question, often asked by millions of young students, graduates and professionals around the world, more so in countries like India where you have hundreds of millions under the age 35….”What career I should that will give them a decent living and also be in demand to get a job?”

As you think of careers for the future, here are some of the macro trends you should think of.

Growing and Large Population – Today, the population of our world is around 7.4 Billion people. This is significantly higher compared to what it was 25 years back and continues to grow 1-1.5% per year, adding approximately 100 million additional people per year. One of the things is pretty clear that as far as we all don’t turn into robots, we will fall sick, go to a doctor, take medicines, undergo surgeries and will require medical related services such as tests, nurses etc.

What this means is with a large, growing population, healthcare across the world will continue expanding and growing. So if you are interested in the fields of medicine, nursing, bio-tech, bio-med, you have a bright future. If you are not, maybe you should consider looking at some of the career options in the field of healthcare and medicine. Not everyone needs to be doctor to have a successful career!

Continued Proliferation of Mobile and interconnected devices – Did any of us think 10 years ago that there will be more than 1.0 billion smartphone users in the world in 2017. What an exponential growth in the usage of smart phones. Over next 20-30 years, we will continue to see the growth in digital technology and it will touch us through more and more avenues such as our car, our homes and our home appliances.

With the growth in digital devices, there will always be demand for engineers, programmers, data analyst and product/web designers. As you constantly hear nowdays, it is all about data. Data will continue growing and companies will keep focusing on how to use the data productively. Also every company will require engineers, programmers, designers for AI, product developments, , enhancements and maintainence. So if you are someone who is analytical, innovative and like to design, you can learn about any of the above areas and build a successful career in it.

Growth in middle class and upper middle class globally – As the GDP of various countries grow, more so in developing, growing markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America, more and more families will get into the middle class and upper middle class. With this growth comes the aspiration to travel, have a good meal at a nice restaurant and go shopping. Although there is a lot of talk in Silicon Valley about online shopping, drones and home delivery. It is not to say these things won’t happen but to be practical, all of will still want to go out to eat, go out to have fun, travel, buy stuff, shop at stores etc.

Whatever all the pundits say about Robots taking over, there will always be need for human touch and service industry. If you enjoy people engagement, there are always good opportunities in service industries and sales. As much as all the techie geeks would like us to believe that technology will take over everything, we are still humans and we love the basic joys of life and will always love to eat out, talk to others, travel, buy through local stores and learn from others (teachers, counselors etc.).

Overall, there are enough good career opportunities and will stay so if you are willing to work hard, learn and focus on your career.

About Author Ajay Singh

I graduated from I.I.T India and came to U.S. for higher studies in Engineering 20 years back. After working for a few years in Austin, Texas as a design engineer, I went back for a M.B.A at Harvard Business School. I have worked for number of global companies in senior leadership and management positions. Over the years I have advised number of students on college admission.

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