September 15, 2012 | Marcus Varner | Leave a comment Are you just not feeling that zing in your job? Maybe that flame has dwindled to a spark? Well, if you are feeling that you’re career is less than it could be, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey, the majority of U.S. employees are dissatisfied at work. The good news is, you can do something about it. Ultimately, your career is what you make of it. By taking a few proactive steps, you can start improving your career and moving toward the position, company, field, or pay you’ve been wanting. Here are five ways to start improving your career: 1. Plan out a career path. As much time as we spend at work and worrying about how it affects our future, too many people put very little serious thought and planning into where they want it all to go. If you haven’t done this yet, it’s never too late to start. A career path plan is a great way to take a look at what you’ve done so far, where you want to be, and what you have to do to get there. Of course, the best place to start is by setting a few goals, which might be a certain position, company, or salary range. Once you’ve got some goals in mind, you work backward, asking yourself, “According to the skills and experience I have now, what is the best way for me to reach my goals?” Without this kind of planning, the next few suggestions won’t mean much. Goals and plans will make all the difference. 2. Get some training. In order to move into the kind of position or company you want, you might need to get additional training or earn certain certificates or licenses. A simple online search will tell you what kind of training, certificates, or licenses are required for your desired position. Also, in terms of job security and future opportunities, it’s always a good idea to take on as many skills as you can get your hands on. The more skills you accumulate and become proficient at, the more indispensable you become in the workplace and the more positions you qualify for. 3. Take charge at work. Many people doom themselves to stay at a certain career level because they just don’t do any more than is required of them. However, a little extra effort at work can go a long way toward catching supervisors’ attention and moving you toward your goals. For instance, instead of just clocking in and out every day, talk to your supervisor about how you can improve or volunteer for initiatives that will improve your organization. Report your progress to them as you achieve the objectives they’ve given you. In essence, go the extra mile and make sure they see it. Taking charge like this will signal your superiors that you’re ready to move up. If you do this and you still don’t see new opportunities opened up to you, you might consider the following suggestions. 4. Go back to school. Going back to get a GED, associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree can be a great way to boost or even change your career. In addition to the degree itself, you gain new skills and meet people in your desired career field. Just remember, if you’re going to go back to school, you need to treat it like you would your job in suggestion number three. You have to absolutely commit to it. Nothing will be given to you without a lot of effort on your part. But if you make it your mission to do well, the career benefits are inevitable. 5. Consider other careers. The average person changes jobs ten to 15 times within their lifetime. Many times, the job you’re currently in isn’t the best one for your skill set, your interests, your personality, or your desired lifestyle. Often, your current career is incapable of sustaining you in the long-term. If this sounds like your situation, you might consider switching careers. However, know that switching careers takes some effort. You might have to take a pay cut initially as you jump into another career where you might not have as much experience. You might have to get additional schooling or training to switch careers. And be sure you are not switching careers just because you heard people make lots of money there. Make sure it’s something you can be interested in and enjoy for the long-term or you will find yourself switching careers again a year later.