Todays red-hot industry can easily be tomorrows deserted career wasteland. Ask any of the thousands of Americans who switched to the information technology field in the Nineties, solely because it was the booming industry of the moment.
Have we learned nothing from the dotcom hallucination? asks Bill Treasurer, author of Right Risk: 10 Powerful Principles for Taking Giant Leaps with Your Life. Workers continue to jump on the bandwagon and head for the gold rush — only to find that the gold is gone. When your primary reason for switching careers is to go where the money and opportunity seem to be at the time, the dangers are high, he warns.
Several of todays hot fields happen to be in healthcare — nursing, pharmacy, medical laboratory technology and radiology. Maybe youre tempted to pursue one of those fields simply because it looks like a sure thing. But be careful. Theres more than the job market to think about. Ask yourself these critical questions as well.
Will it stay hot?
Its possible that a field is hot because theres an employee shortage stemming from high turnover, poor working condition or other ongoing, unresolved issues, says former career counsellor Kenneth McGhee, a financial aid specialist at Northern Illinois University and author of Eleven Leadership Tips for Supervisors.You have got to think critically about how long the field will remain hot and why, says McGhee.
An example would be the trend towards training certified nursing assistants to perform the duties of a respiratory therapist, a physical therapist assistant and an occupational therapist assistant, says McGhee. Short-term courses, usually at a local community college, are used for this purpose. If this continues, and with CNAs making less money per hour, how long will other health professions stay hot?
If youre a technical writer and you decide to go into nursing, do you have the skills and desire to deal with doctors, patients, families and a myriad of other healthcare people on a daily basis?asks William Schaffer, a career counsellor in Silicon Valley and author of High-Tech Careers for Low-Tech People. What if youre a highly skilled software engineer and your new job requires you to report to someone you consider to be educationally inferior? You have to ponder these possibilities before taking the plunge.
Its one thing to simply read about a hot career, such as by checking out job profiles, but you cant stop there if you want an accurate picture of it. You need inside information from people actually working in the industry.
Who do you know who has succeeded in the field? What appeals to you about the work they do each day?
Have you booked a time to work with or shadow this person who is doing what you say you want to do? asks John Connor, president of Career Pro, a career transition firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. If this is a career decision, wouldnt it be worth taking one day out of your life before investing your time into going for this career and making the big change?
If you enjoy working with people and dont mind a job that can be very stressful at times, well, then nursing is great, says Valerie Sejko, director of career services for the Hamden and Shelton campuses of New England Technical Institute in Connecticut. But what if you dislike working with people? No matter how hot nursing is, youll never be happy in it. According to Barbara Moses, president of Toronto-based BBM Human Resource Consultants and author of What Next? The Complete Guide to Taking Control of Your Working Life, people trying to second-guess the job market are playing a futile game.
Theyll never beat it, and theyll become unhappy in the process, she says.