7 Long-Term Careers for Future College Grads

Choosing a career is no longer about simply following a passion. While passion should play a part, deciding upon a career for the future involves much more. Security, opportunities for success, and a solid salary structure are critical aspects of selecting a profession or area of study that makes sense. In the past, stable careers could be hard to come by. However, more options exist today than ever before. What turns a job into a long-term career? Which fields offer the most promise?

When Do Jobs Become Long-Term Careers?

Many factors work together to determine which jobs could become long-term careers. Some factors are dependent upon the individual employee while others have more to do with the positions themselves.

  • Happiness and Satisfaction. A career cannot be a long-term opportunity if the employee is not satisfied with the work that he or she is responsible for. Stable careers with good salaries are nice, but an employee must feel fulfilled, be engaged in the position’s mission, and be interested in moving forward for success. This is where passion becomes more critical. Considering your interests and what motivates you is essential when examining career opportunities.
  • Structure. Once again, this is an independent factor that depends upon the individual. Some people are born to be entrepreneurs. The idea of stepping out into the unknown is exciting and motivating. Others value structure and wish to follow paths that have already been paved. Generally speaking, proven careers offer the greatest opportunity for lasting in the long term. Entrepreneurship – while exciting with the potential for great success – does not always offer the most security. Stable careers with good salaries are often accompanied by some type of tried and true structure.
  • Innovation. Stable careers for the future often involve innovation. The world and job market is changing, and needs vary from one year or decade to the next. Consider the online revolution and the growth of social media. Twenty years ago, social networking didn’t exist. The idea of connecting online with other individuals was in its earliest stages, and, as such, career opportunities were limited at best. Today, entire positions exist just to handle a company’s social platforms online.
  • Tradition. Certain careers are the most secure jobs simply because they have always been around and will continue to be around in the future. In this case, it’s about the needs of society. Finances have always been important; therefore, accountants and those involved in forecasting have always been in high demand. People have always needed medical attention. While technologies have changed, this means that medical professionals and careers in the field will always be in need. Tradition plays a large role in determining the long-term potential of a given career.

How to Choose the Best Long-Term Career for You

There’s a lot to consider when trying to decide on a long-term career. The Pew report notes that, while 51 percent of U.S. workers say that their job gives them a sense of identity, the other half — about 47 percent — say their job is just something they do for a living. It’s essential to find a job that you can enjoy but also live comfortably from. As people are placing more value on doing something they love, job satisfaction also continues to grow. According to The Conference Board, about 54 percent of U.S. workers said they were satisfied with their jobs in 2019, up from 51 percent in 2018. This one-year increase is one of the largest in the survey’s history. How can you be sure to feel satisfied at work?

To determine which career is right for you, consider the following questions:

  • What drives you? If you’re not motivated to get out of bed and go to work every day, the most secure jobs in the world will mean nothing. Identify your passions and look for opportunities that follow suit. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace 2017 report, about one-third of America’s 100 million full-time employees are considered to be engaged at work. Finding something you love will surely help drive your engagement at work.
  • What are your talents? For a standard position to become a long-term career, you must be talented at what you’re doing. Think about things you’ve received compliments on or subjects in school that you’ve excelled in.
  • What’s your style? Do you enjoy office interaction with large numbers of people, or do you prefer limited interaction? Do you want to travel for work? Do you prefer to stay situated? Understanding your style will help in narrowing down career opportunities. Additionally, in any workplace setting, it’s crucial to be equipped with everything you need to get the job done. Gallup reports that only three in 10 Americans say they have the materials and equipment they need to do their job.
  • What income level do you desire? Money doesn’t have to be a motivating career factor. However, if you’re not satisfied with your pay scale, you’re less likely to stay in a career for the long term. Examine your motivations and goals and think about the lifestyle you’d be comfortable living. Determine a range and look for careers that fall within that range. Similarly, check out the benefits package and see that it meets your expectations.
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? If you’re looking for growth opportunities, make sure that you have the opportunity to develop in the job you’re considering. As part of Gallup’s 12 elements of engagement, it’s crucial that someone talks to you about your progress at work at least every six months and that you have ample learning and growth opportunities to feel engaged with your job. If you feel stuck in the same place, you’ll likely feel dissatisfaction and disengage from your job.

7 Stable Careers for the Future

1. Software Quality Assurance Engineers

Software quality assurance engineers are involved in the development process of various software products and are responsible for ensuring the quality and integrity of the final releases. Software quality engineering positions offer excellent opportunities for growth.

These professionals will be in high demand for the foreseeable future. No company or organization wants to release software – or other technology-related products – without knowing that the product has been tested and will perform as promised. This means software quality assurance engineers are heavily relied upon. Furthermore, the need for software engineers is only expected to grow in the future, and the job outlook is very bright.

Software quality assurance engineers generally start as software engineers or testing engineers. They must become familiar with the development process in order to test it. Software quality assurance engineers will design test plans, scenarios, and procedures; document any defects within the software; and identify, analyze, and document those problems. Due to the nature of the job, candidates should have strong attention to detail, the ability to think analytically, and flexibility. Degrees in information technology are helpful in developing the skills necessary to pursue this career path.

2. Accountant

Accountants – especially in specialized fields and roles – are gifted with limitless career opportunities that are known for lasting long-term. Large corporations, private firms, the government, non-profit and membership organizations, and individual people are all in need of accounting services yearly, at a minimum. This has always been and will always be the case. Numbers are frustrating and difficult for many people; if they are not difficult for you, this might be considered one of your most secure jobs.

Duties typically include bookkeeping, preparing taxes, and offering financial and investment planning services for both individuals and corporations. Additionally, accountants take steps to ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are handled properly. They often work behind the scenes in organizations to ensure smooth operations from a financial standpoint. In certain roles – public accounting and auditing – longer hours during “busy season,” which could include tax season or the end of the budget year, are expected.

The opportunities to specialize in specific fields and certain designations – like the CPA – add to the potential for future success. A degree in business administration with a focus in accounting should be the starting point for this career.

3. Dental Hygienist

Falling within the medical field, a career as a dental hygienist is known for its stability. Dental offices require more hygienists than dentists to keep the patient flow stable and to alleviate the load of the dentists. The career offers a solid opportunity for growth without pursuing an advanced medical degree.

Dental hygienists are responsible for cleaning teeth, examining patients while watching for signs of oral disease, and providing general preventative care while educating patients on proper health and hygiene. The position is generally a part-time role that requires a state license. Dental hygienists should be dependable, have strong attention to detail, and care for others. Those in this field can expect a bright job outlook, as new job opportunities are very likely.

To pursue a career as a dental hygienist, a Diploma or Associate degree as a dental assistant is an excellent starting point. From there, it’s easy to move into a hygienist program. Because of its stability, the position consistently ranks among long-term careers that pay well.

4. Human Resource Management

Human resource managers are responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating the backend administrative functions of any given organization. They handle duties like recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new staff members, and consulting with executives and managers on strategic planning and employee movement throughout a company. Additionally, human resource managers serve as liaisons between management and employees, ensuring that all activities are monitored. They serve to uphold the integrity of an organization and to protect the organization from potential legal downfalls.

Because human resource professionals are needed in every industry, the opportunities for advancement and long-term placement are great. Normal 9-to-5 business hours and limited travel make the position attractive for individuals looking for something stable

Obtaining a business degree in human resources is an excellent starting point for pursuing this career. From there, an entry-level position could become a management role over time. This position is stable, attractive, and requires nothing in the form of advanced, post-bachelor degrees.

5. Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

When examining possibilities for long-term, stable career offerings, medical records and health information technicians are often overlooked. The stability and potential for landing a job quickly and easily without an advanced degree can make this a good position.

Medical records and health information technicians – with names ranging from health information technicians to medical insurance and billing specialists – help to organize and manage health information data for private practices, public hospitals, and other medical offices. They are responsible for maintaining and ensuring the quality, accuracy, and security of records and must be able to work with paper and electronic systems. These professionals use various codes and classifications to properly coordinate insurance coverage for patients and to keep accurate health and treatment histories.

As of 2018 – the most recent available record year from the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics – there were 208,650 active medical records and health information technicians across the country. These jobs are also predicted to grow, and the increased demand caused by an aging population is only expected to fuel this growth.

With just a postsecondary certificate in medical insurance billing and coding, a long-term, stable career can be easily obtained.

6. Heating and Air Conditioning Mechanics and Installers (HVAC Technicians)

Heating and air conditioning mechanics and installers – otherwise known as HVAC technicians – work on consumer and commercial heating, cooling, and ventilation systems to control temperature and optimize air quality in private residences and business locations.

Because heating and cooling are essential to any physical location, private homeowners, schools, hospitals, factories, and office buildings both in the U.S. and abroad need HVAC technicians. Systems can crash without notice, meaning many HVAC technicians must be available or at least on-call at various hours. Those looking for a career in this field could work independently as a contractor or for a larger service provider.

Long-term potential for success is critical, and stability is essential. With an expected growth rate of 13 percent from 2018 to 2028, HVAC positions meet the necessary criteria. The completion of an HVAC training program, associate degree, or apprenticeship offers the best prognosis for interested practitioners. Those familiar with computers and electronics have the most room for growth as systems become increasingly complex.

7. Police Officers and Detectives

Order is essential for any society to function. Police and those involved in criminal justice help to promote this order. As such, criminal justice professionals and law enforcement agents have always played integral roles in the justice system and will continue to do so for the future. Because of this, criminal justice degrees offer an opportunity for stable employment that can be difficult to find elsewhere.

Police officers protect the lives and property of citizens in a specific jurisdiction; they uphold laws and assist those in need. Detectives take it one step further by serving as investigators who gather facts and collect evidence of crimes and possible crimes.

Police work is not for the faint of heart – it is generally physically demanding, stressful, and even dangerous at times – though protection methods have increased and improved over the past decade or so. Shifts vary, and many officers work outside of the standard 9-to-5 range.

In addition to a degree in criminal justice, police officers and detectives are required to graduate from their agency’s – local, state, or federal – training academy and to complete a pre-specified on-the-job training period for a number of supervised hours. From 2018 to 2028, the number of positions is expected to increase by 5 percent, keeping up with the nation’s average. Stable growth, an increased need for public safety, and regular opportunities for advancement work together to make criminal justice a viable long-term career opportunity.

Your Career Starts at Vista College

When searching for career opportunities, it’s critical to examine all factors that come into play: what makes a career attractive to you, what your goals and objectives are for the future, and where you see yourself finding success as you grow as a professional. From there, it’s important to look at the careers that offer the most promise as far as long-term success is concerned. Nothing is more critical than a career that is stable and designed to last. The seven long-term careers outlined above are excellent places to start, but when you’re ready to take the next step, count on Vista College to help you achieve your career goals. Whether you want to finish a degree with credits from a previous institution or are seeking professional training, Vista College can help through in-person or online courses.

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