"Have you matched your ambitions with your abilities?"




Is a Niche Career Path a Big Mistake?


There was a time when taking a niche career path, a speciality, or expertise, was the key to getting a highly paid job. Be you the only person who could laminate large boat panels to a surgeon who only specializes in brain surgery.

However, over the years, things have changed in a way that has pushed down how much a specialist can earn.

This article covers some of those reasons and explains why finding a niche specialisation may still be a good idea.

The Internet and Cheap Travel

Back in the old days, specialists were paid so highly because they were viciously difficult to find. Yet these days, a company can look for specialist CVs from all over the world.

Plus, it is easier than ever to move from one part of the country to that other thanks to better shipping companies, cheaper air travel, and the lack of a community culture that would have kept people in the same area. Finding a specialist is a lot easier than it ever was in the past, so the price of niche experts has gone down.

Immigration Has Affected Wages

The ease of immigration has had a similar effect to that of the internet and cheap travel.

The odd thing is that what may seem like a niche profession in your country may have its own colleges in other countries. Do you want a kangaroo expert for your zoo? You will be hard-pressed to find one in the USA, but there are vets with epic amounts of experience with kangaroos in Australia. You may have a hard time finding a balalaika repair expert in Australia, but there are factories full of experts in Russia.

Some Niches Only Have Trend Value

In the late 90s, the History of Television was an actual course you could take in college, but now it is as redundant as a course in VCR repair.

Gender studies had a very elevated value in the early 2010s, but it turns out that learning can be done with a pre-written leaflet and the people who took the course are now jobless.

Some jobs are disappearing that are not even niche specialisations. Jobs like cashier, grocery checkout person, bank teller, and many types of assembly jobs have simply disappeared.

Doesn’t All Learning Have Value?

Here we hit upon perhaps one of the best reasons to take up a niche specialization. Any form of learning is valid. Steve Jobs said he thought his calligraphy courses in college were a waste of time, and yet it was that knowledge that helped him create the first Apple fonts.

Tony Robbins is 50% hack and 50% brilliant, where he consistently comes out with terrible and good advice in almost equal measure. One of his brilliant pieces of advice was to listen to every speaker, every teacher, read every book because you can learn and gain experience from every piece of teaching.

Even if what you read or heard is 100% wrong, it helps you question and confirm the things you already know. This applies to specialist career paths too.

You may learn lots and be an expert in something that doesn’t help you get a job, but the knowledge you gain will still come in handy at some point.

Most People Change Career Paths Anyway

One of the biggest arguments for not getting into college and university debt is the fact that most people change careers at some point anyway. Most people start out with a very clear idea of what they want to be, and then change it up fairly early when they realise that the working version of their career path is not the same as it was in full-time education.

This means that the worst-case scenario is that you do what everybody else does, but you do it a little earlier. Taking a niche area career may mean you leave education and have to take divergent career paths, but you were probably going to do that anyway.

Plus, when you have your niche qualifications, you are still able to get jobs in your preferred profession later down the line. You may start out wanting to take a course in urban design, but you fall into bookkeeping, which keeps you going for six years, and then suddenly there is a need for urban planners and companies are crying out for your talents.

A similar argument could be made for people who move around. Those who move from towns to cities often find that their niche profession is in far bigger demand and are often able to switch up their careers more easily.

In short, a niche career path has its risks and it may not be smooth sailing all the way, but it is certainly not a mistake.



« »

Australia's Careers OnLine : Professional Careers Advice for job seekers on the 'net since 1995!