WHAT IS THE BEST CAREER?…..is a tough question to answer! However, I have just interviewed 100 graduates 10 years on from university for my book ‘1000 Years of Career Advice’ about what they like and don’t about their careers.
The book includes interviews from people working in 16 different professions all over the world. I’ll try and summarise my take on the different careers from the in-depth conversations I had with the 100 interviewees below:
What is the best career? -> Accounting
– Great qualification to have on your CV, can open doors for you in lots of companies anywhere in the world
– The big 4 firm graduates get a great opportunity to easily travel and work all around the world having that big name on their CV
– Once you are an accountant it can be difficult to move into more exciting work
– It pays well in comparative terms
– The hours are pretty good usually compared to other professions
– It gives you great exposure to how different companies are run.
– It pays well compared to other professions, especially as you get more senior.
– The hours are not too bad, likely to be 9am – 5/6pm, in comparison to banking which is likely to be 9am – 7pm.
– It’s not much fun compared to other departments in a company.
What is the best career? -> Business Owners/Entrepreneurs
– You are your own boss and can reap the rewards of your hard work.
– There can be a lack of support, and it can be difficult to delegate.
– The pay can vary, some do very well, others struggle to break even.
– You are never off the clock.
– It sounds like a lot of fun, doing something you are passionate about.
– All the people interviewed were happy to step out of their comfort zone.
– It can be quite stressful as the business depends on you.
What is the best career? -> Commerce & Industry
– There are lots of different career paths within commerce and industry.
– The hours are good when compared to other industries.
– You get up close to the business whether it’s sales, manufacturing, etc.
– It can be very rewarding as you see how a product is made, or a company makes its profit, etc
What is the best career? -> Compliance
– It pays very well.
– There is a great social side to working in financial regulatory bodies.
– One of the reasons why regulatory bodies can be such good places to work is they are not trying to make money.
– Depending on the industry you are regulating it can be very long hours, i.e. investment banking.
– You can get to work on insider dealing cases with the police investigating fraud!
What is the best career? -> Creative
– There are lots of drinks and boozy lunches, and team trips away.
– It is very competitive to get good roles.
– There seems to be a lot of politics compared to other professions.
– There are lots of roles in creative industries
that aren’t 100% creative, i.e. planning, account management, etc.
– It’s long hours; you are never off the clock.
– Clients can be quite demanding.
– Working as a personal assistant can be quite a good route into the industry.
What is the best career -> Engineering
– It can be long hours.
– There is a great scope to work and travel with it.
– Jobs can be quite dependent on how the economy is performing.
– There is a good social side to it.
– Some engineering can be very lucrative, i.e. oil and gas, highways, pipelines etc.
– There is great satisfaction from seeing something built.
– You can move from different types of engineering quite easily, i.e. water, rail, road, etc.
– Nearly all the engineers who have worked abroad wish they had done even more.
– A lot of engineering is updating reports, and spreadsheets, it’s not as exciting as you may think.
What is the best career -> Health
– Seeing a patient recovering can be very rewarding.
– There are lots of nights and weekend working.
– Some specialisms within medicine take 15 years of studying
and working before you are a qualified consultant.
What is the best career -> Human Resources
– HR is often underappreciated by people who don’t know the value that it can add.
– Dealing with difficult people is tough.
– Psychology and human resources are quite closely related.
– Recruitment can be very lucrative if you are good at it.
– In-house recruitment is a very good way of getting into human resources.
What is the best career -> IT
– There are several types of IT jobs: IT technicians, business analysts, project managers, IT specialists, software developers, etc.
– It pays well and is good fun.
– You don’t have to be a coder or very technical person to work in IT. You can be a project manager or a business analyst and a lot of your job will be people management using your softer skills.
What is the best career -> Investment Banking
– It can be very corporate.
– There are long hours and demanding deadlines.
– It’s competitive when it comes to getting a good role.
– There are a lot of different departments in the bank.
– You can be limited to living in cities as that’s where the jobs are.
– It pays very well compared to other jobs, even other finance jobs
What is the best career -> Law
– It pays well, but you do long hours.
– The lawyers I interviewed found it quite hard to switch off
– Being a lawyer for a company is a lot more structured than in a practice.
– Studying law is very different to practicing law.
– Your days can be really varied.
What is the best career -> Management Consulting
– Provides great exposure to senior leaders in a broad range of companies.
– You get to work with very smart people.
– You could be sent anywhere working at the client site.
– It can be long hours, due to client and manager demands.
– Your experience can be very dependent on the client/manager you are working for.
– The smaller consulting firms are very different from the big prestigious ones.
– Problem-solving and adding real value for clients can be extremely rewarding.
– There is high turnover as people burn out after years of doing long hours.
– People who make the switch from industry to consulting find the deadline-driven nature of it difficult.
– It’s a great option if you know you want to work in business but are unsure as to the area.
What is the best career -> Sales
– Marketing roles could get very busy around promotion times like Christmas.
– There are always promotions to keep you busy.
– Working with cool brands and companies can be great
– It can prove difficult to sell to people who don’t want your product
What is the best career -> Science
– It doesn’t pay that well.
– A lot of jobs involved you being stuck in a lab all day long.
– Academia is a well-trodden path in the science world.
– Science and engineering are closely linked.
– There are fantastic careers available in pharma to people with science backgrounds.
– A lot of people who work in pharma are contractors. It can be quite lucrative.
– Ph.D.’s can be a lot of hard work without necessarily a guarantee of a job at the end of it.
What is the best career -> Project Management
– It is fast-paced and deadline driven.
– There is a lot of teamwork involved.
– It can be quite enjoyable all working towards a common goal.
– It suits people who get bored very easily.
What is the best career -> Teaching
– Good hours, good holidays, probably good fun, but stressful, repetitive, and not paid that well.
– You are not confined to cities or countries, so can go and work as a teacher in a lot of places.
– It’s possible to travel the world as a teacher.
– The teachers I interviewed seemed pretty invested in the kids and seemed to really enjoy it.
– Dealing with the parents was a tricky part of the job which I never thought about!
Are you any the wiser as to what is the best career?! In summary, the careers that are stressful and long hours usually are paid the best. The ones that are more interesting, and not stressful usually are not that well paid. It’s also worth pointing that the industry can make a difference too. For example, the industries that make a lot of profit i.e. Pharma, Oil & Gas, and popular Consumer Brands will have more relaxed atmospheres than working for some Health, Retail, Construction or Facilities companies where their margins might be under more pressure.
I hope the above gives you a feel for the 16 professions discussed by the 100 graduates 10 years on from college/university in my book. My book goes into a lot more detail with the interviewees about:
- why they picked the degree they did
- their career path since they graduated
- what they like/don’t like about their role
- their advice on how to get involved in what they do
Writing the book gave me a lot of insight as to what careers are more appealing than others, get your copy now – it will change how you look at your career.
For more exclusive content on career paths, and lessons learned by graduates 10years on from university, enter your email address below
See below for some inspiration for other career paths