How to Choose a Career-Related Major

Are you currently racking your brain over which major you should choose or what career path you should follow? Either way, both these questions go hand-in-hand, as selecting a major you like will increase your chances of starting a career you will be satisfied with.

Out of the thousands of majors to choose from, which one is going to be right for you?

Let us guide you step-by-step, and help you choose a major that is in-line with your future career aspirations.

Step 1: Define Your Abilities, Interests, and Passions

To figure out which major is suitable for you, you need to define what you can do and what is most important to you. This can be done by identifying your interests, passions, and abilities.

Abilities

Your abilities are your skills to perform specific tasks.

Understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are right from the start can help you eliminate those fields (i.e., majors) you currently lack skills for or have no desire to develop.

Don’t worry if you don’t already have skills for a major you’re thinking of pursuing because this is what university is for—to build skills you don’t already have.

If you don’t know or are confused about what you are good at, you can take free strengths tests such as the HIGH5 Test to uncover your innate abilities.

Interests

You don’t necessarily have to be ‘talented’ in a topic you are interested in: it is easier to develop skills for topics and fields that you have an interest in since your attention is easily drawn towards learning more about them.

If you are interested in coding, for example, it might be a good idea to pursue it while studying. You can always change your mind later if you find out you were less interested in it than you thought, or if developing the skills to pursue a full-time career in it is too daunting for your tastes.

Passions

Your passions are your interests, but on ‘turbocharge”.

Choosing a major based on your passion (i.e., what you love to do) will increase your chances of you getting your degree and finding a career that will make you happy for the long-term.

However, having too many passions may cause indecisiveness about which major to go for and make the decision process that much harder.

In this case, you can use the following questions to get clarity about what you are most passionate about.

  • What is it that if I don’t do in life, whether by force or by circumstance, I will regret most?
  • What wouldn’t I mind failing at?
  • What would I do for free if money wasn’t a concern?
  • What topics and fields do I not mind spending time and money on?
  • What do friends and family tend to consult me about?

If your abilities, interests, and passions lead you to various academic fields instead of just one, then choose the one that matches your abilities. Employers look at technical and functional skills related to the job candidates are interviewing for.

Step 2: Review Future Prospects and Potential

You may have the skills for a particular career.

You may have an interest in a particular major related to that career path.

You may even be passionate about gaining more skills so you can advance along your chosen career path.

What good will a career or a major related to it be, however, if it does not offer a compelling future?

There are careers out there that are becoming obsolete as technology continues to advance, automating tasks that were once capable only through human endeavour.

Always do your research when it comes to choosing a major, as even the most trusted and respected source cannot know everything about a topic or field, especially when it comes to locality-specific details that affect career choices in a given geographic area.

To be sure that the major you choose and the careers associated with it have good prospects, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you think you will enjoy the field you have chosen five or even 10 years from now?
  • Does this field offer sufficient employment opportunities? How hard will it be to find a job associated with your major after you graduate?
  • Can this major and the jobs related to it potentially become obsolete due to technology (e.g., Artificial Intelligence)?
  • Will obtaining this major present you opportunities that’ll meet your salary/payment standards and expectations?

If salary is an important factor for choosing a major, then consider the following 10 areas of study as they are associated with the highest paying jobs in Singapore for fresh graduates:

  • Computer/IT
  • Healthcare
  • Accounting/Finance
  • Education/Training
  • Engineering
  • Building/Construction
  • Sales/Marketing
  • Science
  • Admin/Human Resources
  • Arts/Media

Remember, choosing a career is different than finding a job. With a career, you have more stability and room for long-term growth and so you want to make sure that the major you are going after is associated with careers that are going to be around for years to come.

Step 3: Consider the Disadvantages

Any major you choose, no matter how lucrative its career prospects, will offer some downsides. Such disadvantages are important to consider; make sure you will be able to handle them when they eventually appear.

The best way to uncover problems within any given major is to speak to graduates of that major or your university counsellor about them. After all, they have the experience to verify the good, the bad, and the ugly about the major in question and the careers associated with it.

Aside from this, you can also review the following areas to make sure that the major you choose will be right for your particular situation and temperament.

Switching Majors

It is not uncommon for university students to switch majors while in university.

This is not necessarily a problem, unless you consider the cost and time it takes to stay enrolled in school while you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your life.

Overspecialization

Some majors are too specialized.

This may seem like a good thing as it helps to qualify you for higher-end jobs, but it also narrows down your career path and job prospects at the same time.

For your undergraduate degree, it is best to choose a broad major so you will have more job opportunities at your disposal once you graduate. Consider the fact that most Singaporeans don’t end up choosing careers that are related to their major, and getting a degree with a broad focus will make more sense.

In fact, 53 percent of Singaporeans work in jobs that have nothing to do with their degree!

Once you have worked a couple of years after completing your studies, you will be in a better position to know which career path to follow. Then, you can go back to school and get a hyper-specific specialized degree (i.e., Master’s or Ph.D.) to make you more employable for your chosen career. You can also upskill or reskill as and when you need to.

Life Changes

After you obtain your major, what changes will you need to make in your life to get the career you want?

Some of these may include:

  • Relocation (overseas)
  • Further Qualifications
  • Time Spent Working

If you are not willing to make the changes needed for your chosen career, then the advantages you have obtained from your degree will not offset the disadvantages its related careers offer.

Step 4: Reconsider Your Options

Guess what?

Even if you end up choosing the wrong major, you can always change your mind and choose another one. Of course, this will take more time and money but you will not be stuck with a bad decision for your entire life.

A sure sign that you should change your major is if you hate going to classes associated with it—if you hate those classes, you are probably going to hate any career related to them!

Getting bad grades, no matter how hard you study, may also indicate that a change in major is in order. Whether your poor grades are due to a lack of interest or because you don’t have the skills to major in your chosen subject, you need to show some proficiency in your field if you want to graduate and get hired for jobs related to it.

If you can’t, then it may be time for a change!

Once you have identified that your current major is not for you, the next logical step is to restart your search and find potential majors and careers that are more suited to your personality and talents. There are various career assessment tests out there but the best ones will always have these three assessments woven into them:

  • Personality Assessment
  • Values Assessment
  • Skills Assessment

Below you will find a list of the best free career assessment tests which cover the three assessments listed above, plus a few more:

Once you have compiled all the career suggestions from your assessment tests, you can then explore various career opportunities in Singapore matching those suggestions by checking out the various SkillsFuture frameworks[i].

Conclusion

Choosing a major and a corresponding career may seem frightening at first, but be assured that you don’t have to be scared of making the wrong decision. If you follow the four steps listed above, you are going to be happy with whichever major you choose and the career path you follow.

If you remain confused about what you should major in, seek out help from your university counsellor, academic advisors, or your peers to get a better view of the direction your schooling and working-life should follow.

After all, colleges and universities are there to give you all the tools and resources necessary to make career decisions that are best for you.

Best of luck!

[i] https://www.skillsfuture.gov.sg/skills-framework

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