<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://q.quora.com/_/ad/bdd9d941ae754c498fe2d2326d029ffa/pixel?tag=ViewContent&amp;noscript=1">

How to Narrow Down Your Career Path

Featured Stories

Filter By Categories

While some people are lucky enough to know their “dream job” from a young age, most students will probably have some trouble making a final decision about which career they’d like to pursue. And that makes sense — it’s a lot of pressure to choose one path to follow! 


If you’re having trouble narrowing down your possible careers, follow these strategies to cut your list down to size.

Rank your list

After you’ve completed a thorough self-assessment, you hopefully have a list of potential careers already written down. Take another look at it now, and cross off the obvious “nos” you might have after doing research into the job and the labor market data. 


You might still have a handful of careers to choose from — and that’s ok. You don’t need to narrow it down to just one option, but consider ranking possible careers into Plans A, B, and so on. This can help you narrow down your field of focus.  

Consider what your top jobs have in common

If there are just too many careers you can see yourself in, try to identify underlying themes that connect them. For example, if you could envision yourself as a biologist, national park ranger, or horticulturist, these jobs all share a love of the natural world, time spent outside, and continued learning throughout your career.  


Once you can identify your core needs that each career fulfills, you might have an easier time crossing off other jobs that don’t fit on your list. 

Note the difference between a job and a hobby

You might have a ton of interests and are just finding it too hard to pick one thing to focus on. But just because your career only incorporates one or two of your passions doesn’t mean you have to drop your other interests. You might choose to focus on your career on your most marketable passion, or the one you could see yourself realistically doing every day. But also think about the flip side: What would pursuing your hobbies as a career really look like? 


For example, if you love working out and being active, you might think a job as a personal trainer is right up your alley. But a position like that might involve working nontraditional hours that make it hard to socialize with your friends, your income might be unpredictable, and eventually, the work might start to feel repetitive. 


While there are pros and cons to every career, take a hard look at what it would really look like to turn your hobby into a career and make sure you’re on board with that reality. 

Set up informational interviews 

There’s only so much research you can do online. If you’re still stuck, consider asking for help from someone in the industries you’re interested in.


Informational interviews offer a chance to ask questions to real-world professionals in the career of your choice. You can get the inside scoop of what it’s like to work in their job, what their favorite and least favorite parts of the work are, and what their path was to get there. Plus, it’s a great way to build a network and practice your interviewing skills. 


LinkedIn is a good place to start your search for local professionals, but your school’s counseling office could also help connect you to someone.

Ask why you want to pursue this career

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to one or a few options, ask yourself why you want to pursue the career in question. Is it truly something you want to do, or is it what you think you should do to meet the expectations of your family, society, or someone else? Are you interested in this career solely because of the high paycheck, or do you see real value and fulfillment in the work required? 


It might seem silly, but now’s the time to do a final check-in with yourself and make sure you’re choosing your career for the right reasons. After all, you’ll be following this path for years or decades, so make sure it’s something you can be content with. 

Bottom line

You don’t have to get your career right the first time — plenty of people don’t. But deciding on a general career path now can help you focus and set your plans for future education and training programs. Once you land your first job, you might be surprised at the doors it will open and the unforeseen opportunities that come your way.

Edmit's advice helps you to be better off after graduation.

  • Merit and financial aid estimates based on your student profile
  • Earnings estimates and financial scores for your college and major
  • Recommendations to save thousands on college

Sign up for updates

Popular Tags

Financial Aid and Scholarships* Cost of College* paying for college financial aid FAFSA Student Loans* grants and scholarships federal student loans Saving for College* Salary and Career* college tuition 529 plan cost of attendance expected family contribution private student loans college financial planning financial aid award taxes career college savings plan room and board on-campus housing merit scholarships budgeting for college college expenses federal financial aid merit-based financial aid private universities public universities edmit hidden gems edmit team college costs parent PLUS loan college applications living expenses CSS profile education expenses financial need income application fees career fit choosing a major financial aid appeal off-campus housing choosing a college college majors loan forgiveness affordable college degree programs loan repayment repayment plans researching careers student loan assistance student loan debt work-study application fee waivers career exploration college search coronavirus edmit scholarship institutional aid net price private scholarships SAT career goals college visits in-state tuition prepaid tuition plans ACT budget free tuition international students internships need-based financial aid need-blind colleges qualified higher education expenses retirement savings school-based scholarships southern colleges standardized testing tuition discount tuition guarantee tuition payment plans 401k UGMA UTMA applying to college college financial health college ranking systems college spending college transfers credit score discretionary income distance learning education savings accounts fees financial literacy full ride scholarship gap year grants health insurance options investment ivy league schools liberal arts degree meal plans midwestern colleges need-aware colleges out-of-state tuition saving state aid tuition increases western colleges 568 presidents group Inversant MEFA asset protection allowance best price campus life college advisor college credits college deposit college viability community college concurrent enrollment cost by region cost by state crowdfunding dorms early decision educational expenses esports fee waivers financial wellness for-profit universities fraternities and sororities full tuition graduate school home equity loan income share agreements job applications line of credit lists medical expenses medical school military benefits net price calculators new england colleges non-profit universities online learning online tuition out-of-state students percent need met private college consultant remote learning self-assessment siblings small business state schools student bank accounts student organizations subsidized loans title IV schools travel expenses tuition decreases tuition insurance tuition reciprocity undocumented students unsubsidized loans work-based learning