Education is becoming more specialized
Specialization is on my mind because we just finished matching the Career Key to all the new majors, training & instructional programs added in 2010 to the U.S. and Canadian government’s database of post-secondary programs. (Our Education Key e-Book will be updated this summer) This is the first update since 2000, and the specialization trend in education is striking. Here are a few examples:
- Medicine and Health Care fields, both for professionals and technicians, are continuing to become more specialized.
- For example, Nursing is now subdivided into four categories (registered nursing, administration, research & clinical nursing, and practical nursing) with multiple programs for each.
- Interdisciplinary studies are growing. You need to be an expert in more than one field - which may make it more interesting for you, but more challenging.
- As an example, see this recent NYT blog “Can ‘Neuro Lit Crit’ Save the Humanities”
My software engineer husband and I were talking recently about how in his field, job openings are often driven by one particular language and one platform. Windows or Linux? C++ or Ruby on Rails? (whatever that means - you get the picture) Companies may say they want a “jack [programmer] of all trades [languages]” but really they want someone to know exactly the specific language and code they’ve got and what to do with it. And there are a lot of languages - more being invented all the time (like the new D language at DigitalMars).
Anecdotal evidence aside, 2010 changes in the U.S. government’s organization system for occupations (the Standard Occupational Classification or SOC) reflect many more focused career paths in technology and health care. The number of occupations in some industries are shrinking (like printing and photograph processing) while others are expanding (information technology and nursing).
So what does all this mean for choosing a career right now?
Here are my 6 thoughts on making a more specialized career choice:
- Remind yourself that your current career choice, whether it’s your first or you think it’s your last, is probably not your permanent, final one. Embrace the cliche that “change is the only constant.” See #6 below.
- Focus on what you have control over. You can control and improve your adaptability to change, by:
- building your support system (family, friends),
- paying attention to the health and progress of your newly chosen field,
- staying up to date with your certifications and education, and networking with other people.
- You can’t control (among other things) technology advances (unless you’re an inventor), economic recessions, or age discrimination.
- For example, if you score high in Social and your second highest score is Enterprising, you can see how choosing a Social occupation that may allow you to operate your own business (like physical therapy or clinical psychology) would be a compatible choice. You’d want to do informational interviews with self-employed practitioners to learn more about those options. See other suggested ways to learn more about the careers that interest you.