How To Make A Career Plan

If you’ve ever sat wondering blankly what you should do next with your life, you’re not alone. Only about 14% of Americans feel like they’ve got a great job, so plenty of people are in the same boat as you, wondering what to do next. A simple solution to that question is to create a career plan.

Simply put, a career plan is a way for you to figure out what your short- and long-term career goals are, followed by the steps you take to achieve those goals. Making a career plan is a process that takes a small investment of time, but in the end, you’ll feel more focused and self-aware of what you want to do and how you plan to do it.

Choose A Career Path

Your first task is to choose the right career for you. If you’ve already got an idea of what pathway you want to take, that’s great! However, many people know that they want a change, but they don’t know what that change should look like. In that case, consider your personality and your needs: Are you a team player or a solitary introvert? What financial obligations do you have to meet? Practical considerations are a part of figuring out the right career path for you. Finally, what are your strengths? Knowing what your strengths are will help you make the next move.

Ask yourself what you enjoy learning about because you will want a career that will maintain your interest. Another aspect to consider is the education that you’ll need. Do you want to earn a certificate that will give you new career opportunities within a matter of months or do you want to head back to school for the next several years? 

Finally, if you still aren’t sure what type of career move you want to make, take a career test. The following career tests have been proven helpful for people seeking their ideal role in a new career.

After you’ve done some self-exploration and you’ve spent some time exploring possible occupations, you’re ready for your next step.


Once you know what field you want to go into and how much time you want to spend on special training, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to get any special training you need to make it to your new career. If you’re not interested in spending years and a fortune in college classes, then certificates are a great way to get you in the door for many different professions. You’ve got a lot of options to choose from when you’re trying to decide between online certificate programs and a college degree, so be sure to do your research about all of your options before committing to any one program.

Things to consider before signing up for any program include these helpful tips:

  • Your schedule – Is the program flexible enough for you to keep working if you need to? Can you do the work on your own time, or does the program require that you be present for set class times?
  • Your location – Do you have to attend class in person or is the program online? If it’s in person, how far do you have to drive, and how often do you have class sessions?
  • The cost – How much will the total cost of the program be? Does the program offer financing or financial aid? Can you make payments or is the total cost of the program due up front?

Set Goals

Once you’ve got the right program lined up for your responsibilities and personal schedule, it’s time to set some goals. These goals should be an action plan that will identify exactly what your next steps will be to make sure you keep on with the path you’ve chosen and achieve your dreams. These specific action steps should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. Here’s the breakdown of what this looks like:

  • Specific: What is your specific career goal? This should be the title of the position that you are aiming for.
  • Measurable: How will you know that you’ve achieved your goal? At graduation? When you’re in a job interview for the new career? Will you consider your goal achieved when you’ve seen your first pay date?
  • Attainable: Can you achieve this goal? You should have a good percentage chance of accomplishing your goal or the entire process will be full of frustration and disappointment. You want to avoid goals that are not attainable.
  • Relevant: If the goal isn’t important enough to you, you’re going to drag your feet about achieving it. That’s why it’s important for you to be sure that the career choice you’ve made is right for you at the start of this process. Once you’ve found the career choice for you and the training program that fits your needs, then the goal will be both important and relevant to your life.
  • Time bound: When will you finish your training? By what date will you be ready to update your resumé? When do you want to start applying for positions in your new career?

Be Realistic

The last step is to be kind to yourself. This is a big step, and if you’re headed back to school as an adult after some time away, you might need to modify your expectations of yourself and learn to give yourself grace. No matter what your situation, heading back to school and starting a new career is a big, but extremely positive, undertaking. You’ll want to be sure to build in time to work on school, but you’ll also need to give yourself time to breathe, too. Setting realistic expectations about what that looks like is an important step in order to make sure you stay positive and optimistic about this exciting new path. Expecting perfection will wear you down, so be kind to yourself and you’ll find that your goals will be accomplished before you know it.

Washington Technical Institute

Washington Technical Institute’s fully online certificates can be completed in a matter of months, with daily or bi-weekly start dates. Such flexible start dates make these programs unique and much more accessible for our students. Most of our certificates can be earned as a self-paced program, meaning that you can work at your own pace to complete your work, even finishing early if you have the time and motivation to do so. An additional benefit of WTI’s programs is that we offer affordable pricing and monthly payments to help our students leave school without debt. 

Although our goal is to help our students graduate their programs with little to no debt, we also recognize that some students might need to utilize a loan for their educational investment. We are excited to announce our partnerships with Meritize Financial Assistance, Climb Credit, or Ascent, student lending companies focused on financing career-building programs. 

If you’re ready to enroll and start working on a plan for the personal and professional benefit of professional development, you can register for your program online through our website. Still have questions about our programs? Feel free to call us at 800-371-5581 or text us at 952-465-3702 to speak with an admissions specialist.

Get Started Today!

Advance your education with an accredited certificate program from Washington Technical Institute (WTI). WTI is Regionally accredited by the Middle States Association CESS, and licensed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education as an institution of higher learning.


Washington Technical Institute is Regionally accredited by the Middle States Association CESS, and licensed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education as an institution of higher learning.