What course is right for me?
How do you choose what course you should study at University or TAFE? What are the main factors you should take into account to help you make the right decision? We’ve put together some tips to help take the angst out of this decision and to help you start studying towards your chosen career path.
Match your skills and what you like to do
What do you like to do? It might seem obvious, but one of the main things you should consider when choosing a course at University or TAFE is what you enjoy doing.
Start by identifying your current skills and strengths – do you like to make things with your hands, do you enjoy working with numbers, or collaborating in a team with other people to complete a project?
There will often be more than one field of work, and therefore a range of jobs, that match your skills, strengths and abilities – for example, if you enjoy working with animals, but also have strong people skills, you might be interested in being a Vet, or a zoo worker.
There are a variety of career assessment tools, like our Career Compass, which you can use to match your skills, strengths and abilities with key components of specific careers.
These assessment tools can help to point you in the direction of career options that play to your strengths rather than choosing something that might play to an area where you are weaker, and may therefore lead to more frustration as you go through your chosen Uni or TAFE course.
What type of working lifestyle interests you?
Some people enjoy being outside; others feel more at home indoors. Some people love travel and would be happy to do it for work as well as pleasure; you might love being able to go home every night and be in your own surroundings.
Some jobs, like medical doctors or aerospace engineers, require long years of study and have strict requirements for advancement through your career. Others require little or no formal qualifications, but may be very competitive, so your chances of gaining that role my increase if you have undertaken some relevant study or courses.
These types of lifestyle considerations play a big part in the sort of career you might be interested in pursuing – and therefore the type of course you might think of choosing.
What career paths can this course lead me into?
Another way to look at your options is to consider a certain course, and then explore the career pathways that might open up for you from that qualification.
Our CareerHQ database links courses with job descriptions and potential careers, to enable you to explore a range of occupations for which that course is the base qualification.
Each job description has information on the typical suitable skillset for the role, typical job activities, the sorts of environments you could work in, and the types and amount of study you would need to do that role as your career goal.
Additionally, think about the industries that interest you, and the types of companies – public, private, government- you might be interested in working in. If you like interacting with others, might education, healthcare or public relations suit you?
A particular job can be very different depending on the industry and type of company – a Marketing Manager in a government tourism body would have a very different to role to a Marketing Manager in a company that ran private medical clinics.
Once you think you know what course you want to do, there are a number of other things you can do which might help you make the final decision.
Work out if there a particular institution you should do this course at. Compare student satisfaction ratings and employment outcomes for university courses across Australia.
Think about the costs involved in getting your preferred qualification. Most university courses have similar costs across institutions. But do you have the option to start out doing a TAFE course, and get a job sooner, and perhaps achieve the same end goal?
Talk to careers staff at tertiary education providers. Many institutions are happy to advise students – particularly if it means you might choose them as your place to study! They also have open days, where you can talk to current students and teaching staff to give you a real sense of the degree or course you’re interested in, as well as the general vibe of the campus.
Will my chosen career exist in the future?
There is a plethora of job choices, which is great once you are in the workforce – but it can also be overwhelming when you are trying to decide what to study at University or TAFE. Just because you decide now to do a particular course, it doesn’t mean you are stuck with that forever. There are plenty of opportunities to move from TAFE to university courses, or even get credits and transfer from one university to another.
The world of work is currently going through considerable change, and if you are just starting out, you want to be able to focus on careers that will more likely have good prospects for the next few years, to give you future job stability.
Remember though, that some of the jobs that will be available when you graduate haven’t even been invented yet!
So enjoy the course you choose, learn some valuable life and job skills, and start your career journey.