Take our career test and find your best career match! Start Now
So, what do you do for a living? It’s the question that you will hear your entire life. It’s an easy icebreaker that has been used at every cocktail party since the beginning of time. Whether your speed dating, waiting in a line, sitting by a pool, or just talking to a new neighbor, that question will be there front and center.
And you want so much to have a great answer.
“I’m a surgeon,” just kind of rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it? Or how about Attorney or Chiropractor or Computer Scientist.
Just picture yourself sitting on an airplane and your seatmate squished in beside you says, “What do you do for a living?” You smile and explain that you’re an Environmental Scientist, or an Economist or a Statistician or a Speech language pathologist.
Best and Worst Job Titles
What makes a great title? People respond positively to career titles with the following characteristics:
- Clean industry
- Considered an expert
- Exciting subject
- High income
- Highly educated
- Interact with important people
- Power and authority
- Public recognition
- Social approval
Think about how you personally perceive career titles. Look at the following list and decide which titles you consider best.
Would you rather be…
- An Engineer or a Clerk?
- A Manager or an Installer?
- A Programmer or an Assistant?
- A Professor or a Laborer?
- A Scientist or an Aide?
It’s fun to have a great title, but your overall career is a bit more complicated.
Some of the best titles require many years of training and experience. Everyone in sales wants to be the highly-compensated Sales Manager but in most industries that title requires many years as a successful sales representative.
The same could be said for General Managers. To achieve that position typically requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree plus at least 10 – 15 years of proven success in supervisory and lower level management positions. Due to the pyramidal shape of most organizations, only a very few exceptional people will ever achieve the highest levels.
In addition to years of successful experience, many high-level roles require pure talent and ability. This is especially true in the creative fields, such as Art Director. These types of roles require both management and creative ability at the highest levels and may include experience as artists, illustrators, copy writers or graphic designers.
Just picture yourself sitting on an airplane and your seatmate squished in beside you says “What do you do for a living?”
You smile and explain that you’re an Environmental Scientist, or an Economist or a Statistician or a Speech language pathologist. What fun!
Career Advancement Opportunities
Most career paths are anything but a straight line. They twist and turn, run into dead ends, then make unexpected leaps forward, or in a completely unanticipated direction. Careers are more often a journey than a destination. In fact, many people never reach the goal that they originally chose to pursue.
One of the important decision points when choosing a career is advancement opportunity.
If you analyze different career paths based on the income range from starting pay to median salary to the earnings enjoyed by the top 10% of incumbents, you can clearly see which jobs have the most (and least) advancement opportunity.
Careers with the best advancement opportunity include:
- Advertising promotions manager
- Astronomer and Physicist
- Financial manager
- Human resource manager
- Personal financial advisor
- Producer and Director
- Sales manager
- Securities and financial sales
Careers with the worst advancement opportunity include:
- Animal care worker
- Bank teller
- Childcare worker
- Home health aide
- Nursing assistant
- Park ranger
- Recreation worker
- Teacher assistant
For many of the positions above, the only way to gain advancement is to leave the position. For example, make the move from Teacher Assistant to Teacher. Of course, this change will require additional education.
Without moving into a new role, even perceived advancement in income through annual pay increases is often moving backward in reality.
The Impact of Inflation on Career Advancement
Take Home Health Aide for example. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, starting pay is $20,130 per year. Let’s assume it takes ten years to reach the median income level, which is $26,220.
When you adjust the starting pay for inflation over that same ten years, you would need to make $28,551 per year just to maintain the same buying power. As you can see, you’ve lost $2,331 in buying power. In other words, you were making more money (in terms of buying power) on the day you started than with ten years of experience.
Remember that careers are a long-term proposition. The most successful people remember to evaluate where you’re going, not just where you are today.
Take our career test and find your best career match now!Start Career Test