It’s one thing to have a goal in life. It’s another to know how you plan to get there.
In Alberta, we refer to our learning process as a pathway. Everyone’s pathway is different, as they’re developed based on:
- who you are now
- who you want to be
- how you plan to get there
Your pathway doesn’t end when you finish your post-secondary education and start a new career. Instead, your plan continues to evolve as you do. When you reach one goal, you may want to set another for yourself to reach.
Questions to ask
Your learning path
- what career paths or fields interest me?
- what post-secondary programs interest me?
- what are the salaries for jobs that interest me?
- what jobs have good prospects?
- what training do I need for my preferred career options?
- what are the requirements for careers I’m interested in?
- what can I do with a diploma, certificate or degree?
Do your research
Every learner pathway starts with research. Before you can start working towards a goal, it’s important to know what your options are. For example:
- how much can you earn in careers you’re interested in?
- what are your chances of getting a job after you graduate?
- what kind of training do you need to reach your career goals?
- where do you want to learn, and how?
All of the information you need to plan your future is available online, but it can be hard to know where to start. These resources can help:
- use OCCinfo to search for possible career options
- use EDinfo to find institutions that offer programs in your area of interest
- find out about apprenticeship training opportunities
- investigate short and long-term job prospects in the fields you’re considering
- read Alberta-specific labour market information
- use this regional dashboard to learn more about Alberta communities you might want to move to for your studies
- explore how you may be able to transfer prior learning or experience to post-secondary study
- use Study in Alberta if you live outside Canada and want to study at an Alberta institution
Talk to people
Meet with someone who works in the field you're interested in. Most people are happy to talk about their jobs, and can give you good advice on what you need to do to get into their field.
Spend a day following around a professional in your field of interest. You'll get a behind-the-scenes look at a real work day, so you can figure out if this is really the career for you.
Student for a day
Some institutions offer student shadow opportunities where you get paired up with a current post-secondary student to learn about what life is like studying in your program of interest.
When you volunteer, you share your skills and time with people and organizations without expecting to be paid. Volunteering can give you chance to build your experience and skills, and demonstrate your employability. This is a great way to:
- get a foothold in a field you're interested in
- build your network
- boost your resume
See if you can gain some experience working in the field that interests you. Want to be a journalist? Write for your community newspaper. Interested in a trade? Enrol in the RAP program or apply for pre-apprenticeship positions.
Visit a few post-secondary open houses to learn about the programs they offer and whether the institution would be a good fit for you.
Ask for a facility tour
Call the admissions office for the institutions you’re interested in attending, and ask for a facility tour. Ask to meet program staff or instructors on your tour, and talk to students while you’re there. This will help you get a sense of:
- the facility
- its instructors
- any student supports
- student satisfaction
What’s a credential?
A credential is confirmation of your learning achievement. When you finish your post-secondary program, you receive an official document from your institution to certify that you’ve completed your diploma, certificate or degree.
Why are credentials important?
There are different types of credentials, depending on the type of learning offered. For example:
- certificates and diplomas are earned over a shorter period of time than a degree
- credentials have different admissions requirements and transferability options
- some jobs require potential employees to have earned a specific credential
When you’re researching learning options, it’s important to know what type of credential you can earn, and whether or not that credential can be transferred to another program.
- Study in Alberta can help you explore education opportunities throughout the province
- Transfer Alberta can help you find out how to transfer the post-secondary learning you already have to an Alberta post-secondary program
If you’re going back to post-secondary after being away for a while, consider:
- if your current employer will support you upgrading your skills — either financially or in other ways
- looking up employment outlooks for potential new careers
- if you need to upgrade or relearn study skills before you go back to post-secondary
- if your previous work experience can be assessed to help you gain admission to a post-secondary program, or as earned credit towards your credential
After you’ve explored your possibilities, you’re ready to choose a direction.