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Underrated industries: Could you be missing out on your dream job?

dream job the way indicated by concept compassEveryone has their ideal dream job. Maybe it’s something that pays for the pursuit of a hobby, a role studied for at university, or even a long-held pipedream from childhood – whatever it is, it’s always in the back of the mind, waiting for the right opportunity to do what we would all rather be doing to come along.

The Telegraph recently reported on jobs that are wildly overrated – typical ‘dream jobs’ such as chef, architect or travel writer, that are actually not as fun as they might appear – as well as jobs that are more fun than they sound, offering high salaries or exciting opportunities in fields that may rarely be considered. Over in the US, AOL publishes a list of the most underrated jobs every year.

Jobs such as accountant, systems analyst, and engineer are regular features at the top of the list – stereotypically unexciting positions that aren’t exactly seen as aspirational, although engineering has certainly shaken this label over the years. Lists of “underrated” jobs typically focus on high salaries and good employment prospects in first and second, with the variety of the work on offer trailing in a distant third.

But recent research has found that a good salary is no longer top of the list for demands from prospective employees. A strong reputation, positive workplace culture, good work-life balance, and ample training and development options are the most important. Is there a risk of unsuitable career paths becoming glamourised just because they’re well paid? It works both ways too – do ‘typical’ dream jobs tick those boxes? A doctor certainly isn’t guaranteed a good work-life balance, for example.

As always, career moves must be for the right reasons. No matter how well-paid a career path is, no matter how many vacancies there are, and no matter how exciting they claim to be, the wrong job is still the wrong job – encouraging someone to abandon their dreams of working in the media or as an architect to pursue a career as an accountant is a bad move if they’re hopeless with numbers – they won’t even get through the door. Any job considered “underrated” will probably require a large amount of training.

Still, it is always important to keep your options open, and remain flexible. Think of your skills, and how they may be transferred to other industries and other disciplines – just because you trained for something specific or have a lot of experience in a particular field, there is no need to stay stuck in it for good. Managerial skills are in high demand across a range of industries, for example, and could easily be transferred to companies with better reputations or a friendlier workplace culture. Strong analytical skills can also be turned to any field.

The lesson would appear to be that there is no career path that is guaranteed to make anyone’s dreams come true, whether it’s a childhood aspiration or a well-paid position in an unexpected industry. But in fairness to the humble accountant, there are more opportunities than expected for those who earn the necessary finance qualifications – after all, most people need an accountant at some stage, and it’s a solid stepping stone to management and consultancy positions. You could even become a forensic accountant, investigating complex fraud cases. Astronauts just go in to space.

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