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Understand how professional experience shapes your career path, influencing opportunities and personal growth in your field.

Have I got what it takes for a veterinary career?

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A Veterinary Surgeon’s career involves the physical and psychological welfare of animals. In reality this means the cure and prevention of diseases. This career path can be for farm animals, pets, zoological park or wild animals.

Veterinarians tend not to choose a career involving a single type of animal. The career they specialise in is either domestic which will include dogs, cats, parrots, gerbils, hamsters, etc.; or a career involving wildlife or farm animals. So the career path is either urban or rural.

A Veterinary career normally involves being self-employed in private practise carrying out surgery, diagnosing and treating illness, taking an X ray, administering anaesthetics or prescribing medication. Veterinary surgeons can work in their clients’ homes, stables, barns, farms, wildlife parks or in any environment where animals are found. As an alternative to a self-employed career they can work in the public sector for research centres, pharmaceutical companies, charities or government agencies. They can be asked for general advice on nutrition, breeding and psychological health.

While skills with animals are important and stem from a love of animals, people skills are also important in a veterinary career. A lot of the career may involve reassuring anxious owners and dealing with clients in the middle of the night – the timing of animal medical emergencies cannot be controlled. People skills can be important in dealing with other members of staff such as veterinary nurses or receptionists. In veterinary careers there is a certain amount of paperwork involved such as pet passports, records regarding immunisation and controlling and managing infectious outbreaks.

However much experience they have, veterinary surgeons rarely live and work a nine to five career. Many farm vets work in cold wet conditions, for instance in barns helping a calf to be delivered. Exceptional social skills can be called upon especially when a client is upset and stressed because a pet or livestock is at risk. The hours spent in a veterinary career, especially for a young vet, often seriously inhibit a social life. Some practices involve a fair amount of travelling

For a career as a Veterinary Surgeon, standard university entrance requirements mean good “A” level grades usually in chemistry backed by a secondary science subject – usually biology. Most universities demand work experience with animals. Experience on farms is an added advantage especially with lambing or calving. It is not enough to love animals – vets must also understand that commercial priorities can overrule sentiment – it does not cure animals and often gets in the way of the healing process.

Normally vets work as assistants when starting their practical careers, which allows for a period for career development. This covers areas of people skills, management skills and areas of specialisation.

Finding the Flexibility in Careers

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With over 5 million people in the UK now choosing to work part time in their career, pursuing the goal of a flexible, yet still high-earning, career is now an easier task. But make sure you get the right careers advice before embarking on this career path.

Senior lawyers, finance directors and chief executives are among those opting for part-time careers, turning traditional career concepts upside down. It is now more acceptable for those in more senior positions to request flexibility in their careers, although the extent of their hours is not always publicised to the rest of the workforce.

While the impact of flexible working for parents continues to be felt, it is not just working mums that are causing the shift. Karen Mattison MBE, the co-founder of Timewise, a recruitment service specialising in skilled part-time career paths, explains: “Thirty per cent of our candidates are not mothers, and this figure is growing. Some are dads; high-earners who can live on a reduced salary. There are lots of different groups of people who might want to have part-time careers. Coping with children is just one of the reasons.”

“Some people are taking part-time careers because they want to set up their own business, go freelance, or need time to care for elderly relatives; for some it is a lifestyle choice,” says Ms Mattison. “People feel like they would rather have the time than the extra income that his career path affords.”

The last recession had an impact, with employers turning to senior workers to cut costs by moving to a part time career. This has made going part time more accessible, and lets businesses realise the benefits of such workers. As Ms Mattison continues, “It enables employers to retain their senior staff. Growing businesses, or those cutting costs, can still access high-level talents on a part-time basis, which they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.”

However, those part timers might not want the rest of the staff to know their working hours in detail. According to a Timewise study, more than a third would never use the word “part-time” to describe their work pattern and one in seven prefers to let colleagues assume that they have full-time careers. The negative connotations of ‘part time’ for colleagues, clients and customers can often mean that the employee doesn’t feel that they are taken as seriously as full timers, and can leave clients feeling that their needs aren’t being met 24/7.

But times are changing, and businesses are seeing the benefits of part time careers, particularly in senior positions. This can create more opportunities for those in the roles to pursue career change, looking at their own lifestyle, mentoring school leavers and much more, while allowing the businesses themselves to benefit from knowledge and experience with a reduction in cost.

Career Opportunities at Sea

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It can be difficult to choose the right career at sea can as there are so many possibilities. Career options vary greatly on ships; generally, the smaller the vessel the more hands-on the career is likely to be, while on larger ships there are many more managerial career choices.

The merchant navy has numerous career opportunities for graduates as officer trainees, offering training and career development leading to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) certificate, which is the Certificate of Competency in Maritime Vessel Operations for deck officers – or Marine Engineering Operations for engineering officers.

The UK shipping industry has careers on many types of vessels – ferries, cruise ships, cargo container ships; gas, oil and chemical tankers. Support and rescue careers are also prevalent. As well as the Royal Navy the industry encompasses many individual companies each responsible for their individual recruitment and career training programmes.

Training includes a university or a residential course at a nautical college and supervised periods of career training at sea. Science graduates are preferred but a Bachelor of Science is not mandatory, a good Bachelor of Arts is acceptable, for instance a Bachelor of Law (Honours).

When your degree includes some engineering subjects you can fast track the career path by applying for individual exemption from some of the training, such subjects include marine engineering; mechanical engineering; electrical engineering etc.

Specialist career opportunities also occur on cruise ships and passenger ferries for graduates in the catering, hospitality, performance, entertainment and business career sectors. Some shipping companies sponsor candidates to study and some accept a Higher National Diploma (HND) in a relevant subject, or alternatively, Royal Navy career experience.

The next MCA level of competency is a promotion to the chief mate or second engineer certificate. The highest level of competency is a Master’s or Chief Engineer’s Certificate. The Marine Society and Sea Cadets provides a range of courses, which enable you to combine work and study to reach a good career level.

Qualification as a merchant navy officer can lead to career opportunities throughout the UK merchant navy fleet or working on private cruise ships. As a qualified deck or engineering officer you can, with more training, sail as a ships captain or as Chief Engineering Officer. Typically, six years’ experience is required. Some merchant navy officers remain at sea for their entire careers, but because of the diverse nature of employment within the growing marine sector, there are an increasing number of onshore careers including:

  • Working for government or international maritime agencies
  • Ship surveying
  • Lecturing or teaching
  • Marine conservation careers
  • Ports management
  • Maritime law

At sea, merchant navy officers are employed in an engineering or navigation capacity on the following major types of vessels:

  • Ferries and cruise ships
  • Cargo container ships
  • Oil, gas and chemical tankers, and other bulk cargo carriers
  • Offshore support vessels designed for specialised roles

Merchant navy officers can also gain similar career opportunities with overseas-based shipping companies.

Careers paths for psychology

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The best careers advice for a Bachelor of Science in Psychology – a psychology degree – is that in itself it does not qualify you for anything except the right to apply to the British Psychological Society (BPS) for a “graduate basis for recognition” (GBR). The GBR status is the first step towards achieving status as a chartered psychologist so that you can have a career path as a psychologist.

However, before you can become a chartered psychologist you must have a field of specialism, psychology is far too wide a discipline to encompass all career choices in one qualification. There are opportunities to work as a volunteer in many areas in psychology and you should because once you have some experience you have much wider career options.

Which careers are open to a professional psychologist include:

Forensic psychology

Counselling psychology

Sports psychology

Clinical neuropsychology

Human Resources

Teaching and research positions in psychology

Clinical psychology

Occupational Psychology

Health psychology

Educational psychology

Other careers are open to a Psychology graduate

Only about fifteen percent of psychology graduates go on to have a career as a chartered psychologist – the other eighty-five percent works in other careers.

A third of psychology graduates work in childcare, education and health careers. Education goes far beyond schools – it also takes place in hospitals, museums and prisons. Educational psychologists work in schools and in the private sector. To become an educational psychologist, you should begin with the GBR Accreditation.

A fifth of all psychology graduates work in the “other” section – careers in all other unnamed sectors. The administrative and management career path employs about 12 percent of all psychology graduates. Community and social worker career paths take up a tenth of those. Social care careers aim to help people overcome difficulties related to physical, mental, environmental or lifestyle problems at any stage in their lives. This work may be in an educational or counselling capacity. It utilises staff in professional careers that assist the vulnerable in both residential care and the community. Ten percent follow a career path in the business finance and IT sector.

Is self-employment a good career choice for you?

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Self-employment is one career goal but there may be better methods of achieving your career objectives. A career plan is necessary even for the self-employed.

If you think that being self-employed means having less structure and more free time then self-employment is probably not for you. Self-employment means being self-motivated and making things happen.

Achievers among the self-employed are no different to achievers in other career paths. They pursue their career goals relentlessly, but they maintain a level of flexibility as they are aware that changing conditions mean that the career plan has to evolve as well. Even the best career paths need to have a plan “b” to fall back on.

Being able to prioritise and concentrate on the career in hand is an important aptitude particularly when you are just starting out as a self-employed person. Making things happen in your career does not come out of a box of magic tricks; it comes out of determination and focus.

Having people skills is important in life – perhaps even more so to the self-employed. The most successful career achievers have an empathy with people; they foster relationships. This is important not least because bad news travels fast and a first hand recommendation is better that any advertisement.

Self-employment can be an attractive career option especially when you have been made redundant. There are many advantages to being self-employed but there is also a downside and if you are not a natural entrepreneur then the risks of self-employment can be high. The plus side is that, if you are successful, you can earn a great deal more than is possible by working for someone else and you do get to make your own career decisions – for which you have to take full responsibility.

The benefits of self-employment

  • It can be better rewarded financially
  • Independence
  • A passion that overrides anything else
  • Self-fulfilment
  • You’re in control

Disadvantages of self-employment

  • It can be lonely being the boss
  • The hours can be very long
  • It can be highly stressful taking on the responsibility – there’s no-one else to blame when things go wrong
  • Not every venture is profitable, the reward is not always commensurate with the effort.

To be truly successful in self-employment you need a clear vision of what you hope to achieve in your career. Self-employment as a career choice can and does take over your life. This should not be an encumbrance, but a liberating force. To be self-employed can be an obsession and everything else takes second place. Make sure your family understand what you want to achieve in your career and that you have their backing, otherwise you could put the two on a collision course.

The drive and passion that you put into your career may never be equalled in anything else that you do. This level of passion and commitment leads successful entrepreneurs to realise that self-employment changes their lives irrevocably.

Embarking on the career path of self-employment without research into the consequences is a very risky undertaking. So before you start your career and business plan make sure that your character rises to the challenge.

A career working from home? Should you consider it?

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People working from home now make up a higher percentage of the workforce than at any point in the last 17 years and it is still rising. Is it something for you to consider as a career option? What are the advantages and disadvantages to this flexible arrangement? Do you have to be self-employed to work from home?

According to the Office for National Statistics, 4.3 million of Britain’s 29.9 million workers did so from home in the last three months of 2014. This is an increase of 1.3 million since homeworking records began in 1998.

If we look at the cause of this increase it is probably a combination of an ageing population, the rise in self-employment and flexible working and the advancement of technology. Interestingly, this report also showed that homeworkers are more likely to have higher average earnings and work longer hours.

This all shows how flexible career paths have become, and how you can choose the right work style for your career and lifestyle. Career Analysts work with people to help them choose the best career path for them, and the best way to work. Whether it is women returning to work after a family, life after sports or the forces, or working your way back into the job market after redundancy, their experts can guide you to your ideal career.

The rise of the female entrepreneur

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Whether you are a more mature women changing your career because of redundancy or through choice, or a young mum starting a business with an eye on work/life balance, you may be considering the entrepreneurial career route. But is it right for you? Success stories are plentiful, but some women find it much more difficult to embark on that career path than they imagined.

Women account for under a third of those in self-employment, but over half of the increase in self-employment since 2008. During the turbulent economic times, between 2008 and 2011 when it was difficult to get into a more traditional career path, women accounted for an unprecedented 80% of the newly self-employed.

There are now almost 1.5 million self-employed women in the UK, which represents an increase of around 300,000. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) states that female entrepreneurs are leading high street growth with more than half of small firms established in the past two years in retail, hotels, catering and leisure owned principally by womens a higher proportion than at any other time.

So, have you considered changing career to one in which you are your own boss? And what circumstances will accelerate your change of career?

7 Psychometrics can help you choose the right career

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There are a small number of very important factors that result in you being happy in your career.

They are:

Your Interests – If you can find what career you should do – one in which you do have a real interest or even a passion then you are much more likely to succeed and enjoy your work.

Your Aptitudes – What are you good at? You will fare much better in your career if you play to your strengths and avoid your weaknesses.

Your Personality- What is the right role and career path for you? What is the right environment for you to be working in?

Your Values – People have different principles; some have a commitment to society, some are simply motivated to earn money, others have a set of beliefs which would lead them into certain career pathways – or prevent others. What factors motivate you and will make you love your career?

At Career Analysts we measure each of these factors using psychometric questionnaires. The first group, evaluating interests, personality and values, are completed by you at home before your consultation date. These contain over 400 questions and they take 2-3 hours to complete. After that you’ll attend our offices for most of a day. In the morning you will complete a series of aptitude tests taking approximately 3 hours and this will be followed by your consultation with the Occupational Psychologist in the afternoon.

How to Make a Career Change

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Deciding what career change is best for you is perhaps the most important part of the process of finding a new career, but once you’ve made up your mind the actual process of getting that new career can also be an ordeal.

The essentials of getting a new career:

Planning is crucial to a change in your career path – your new career strategy should be researched and executed meticulously. Treat the career planning stage as if it was the most important project you have ever taken on and the pathway to your new career with all the care it deserves and needs. Nothing in the career planning stage should be rushed or left to chance. Create a job application history file and record all the steps that you have taken with each prospective employer so that a quick glance will enable you to refresh your memory at every stage of the process.

Research the following in depth

Recruitment Agencies

Junior positions are likely to be advertised in your local High Street and they will have excellent local contacts for local work, but less for specialised career paths. The chance of them finding more senior or specialised career opportunities is not high. Research the specialist head-hunters in your field. Make a list of the agencies that specialise in your chosen career path.

Internet Job Sites

Internet job sites tend to have specialist job boards for each industry, but they are numerous. Before you change your career, research the most suitable websites for your personal career choice.

The Press

This can be a difficult task even if you have researched where your job is likely to be advertised. If a job is advertised locally it may be perfect for you, but it may take longer for the perfect career opening to present itself.

Executive careers are found in the national press both in the online and print editions. Check with your local library and online to ensure you are familiar with all the relevant titles to assist in your job search.

Trade journals

Trade journals are published in print and online and allow you to conduct a narrower research; more focused to your specific career choice. Draw up a Personal Job Search calendar with Google or Yahoo. Mark the days that they publish jobs in your career sector.

Mature Students start new degrees

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The Ucas website has a section dedicated solely to mature students; specifically those who are over 21 in England (over 20 in Scotland). There are lots of reasons mature students decide to study, but many say their objectives are either to improve their career prospects or because they are deeply interested in the subject.

Higher education institutions including universities want to widen participation and one way of doing that is to encourage more mature students. They are more likely to enjoy their subjects and knuckle down because they are studying by choice rather than because it is expected of them by parents. Some may have had good careers already and so understand the frustrations that can come from dead end jobs as a result of a lack of qualifications.

Ucas offers guidance about choosing the right course and also gives careers advice about how different subjects are regarded in the workplace. The Open University prospectus offers all sorts of advice about their subjects as well as the careers they can lead to. It also covers the entry routes offered to students and a lack of qualifications does not necessarily exclude mature students.