In the world of career building, finding an occupation that only requires 1-2 years of formal education is usually the fastest route you’re going to find outside of basic vocational training courses. Higher-paying jobs that carry more prestige will often require a degree that takes 4-8 years to obtain. With such extended time periods on the table, it makes sense that the vast majority of people wind up harboring regrets about their career choice later on. After all, there’s nothing worse than the feeling of knowing you’ve spent years of your life en route to a dissatisfying destination. To help you avoid such regret, here are 10 tips to consider when comparing your career options:

1. Pick a Job That Matches Your Personality

Before you rush into a decision, you need to genuinely ask yourself if you’re the right person for the job. You can do this by researching the traits and qualities of an ideal candidate in the prospective field. For example, if you’re interested in becoming a nurse practitioner, you might query a phrase like “what makes a good nurse practitioner. ”

2. Make Sure You’re Going to Be Happy with the Pay

Many people wind up regretting their chosen career path after realizing that their income is capped at a certain amount. Stagnation is never a good feeling, and it can be hard to feel like you’re going anywhere in life when you’re stuck making the same amount year after year. Make sure you’re aware of, and okay with, the job’s income limitations before committing to a career.

3. Don’t Overlook Educational Requirements

When you’re passionate about the direction in which you’ve decided to take your career, it can be easy to fall into the “I don’t care how long it takes” mindset. You might be ready to commit to an 8-year plan today, but 5 years from now you’ll still be 3 years away from the finish line and you might not be too happy about it.

4. Immerse Yourself in Preliminary Research

Overlooking certain details about the job description or educational process is one of the most common mistakes made by students who rush into their career path without the necessary preparation. Fortunately, this is an easy mistake to avoid with just a few hours of diligent research. While you may wind up wasting a few days or weeks sifting through an extensive list of career options, you’ll be happy you did in retrospect.

5. Talk to Someone Who is Already Doing the Job You’re Considering

Articles and videos can teach you a lot about a profession, but many times they’re created with a slant or bias to persuade the reader or viewer to take action. If you really want an unbiased, first-hand account of what it’s like to do a specific job, it’s best to reach out to someone who’s already employed in the field. Social networking can simplify this step in most cases as there are usually career-related groups that you can join to discuss specific occupations.

6. Remember That Change is Inevitable

Try to choose a job that will be able to adjust to your future. Generally, this would include any career that is in high-demand worldwide, as those allow for the possibility of relocation without significant career disruption. Before you embark on your professional journey, ask yourself whether you’d be okay with your career choice a decade from now, even if nothing is the same as it was when you started.

7. Avoid Jobs That Will Be Heavily Affected by Automation

Certain jobs are poised to be replaced by software-based, robotic processes within the next 5-20 years. For starters, check out this list of jobs that are most and least likely to be affected by automation. Fortunately, there are plenty of jobs that have a very low chance of ever being automated in the near future. Generally, this would include any job that requires the use of human discretion, creativity, or innovation.

8. Be Realistic About Your Own Abilities and Tendencies

When we’re kids, we always have these grandiose ideas of what we’re going to be when we grow up, even though we have no clue what we’re going to be like. As an adult, you don’t have the luxury of pretending you’re something that you’re not. In other words, if you couldn’t even pay attention in basic science class, it might not be a good idea to suddenly decide you want to be a marine biologist to save the ocean.

9. Improve Yourself Before You Embark on Your Career Path

Take a long, hard look at the way you’re currently living your life. Is your schedule all out of whack? Do you struggle to keep simple personal or professional commitments? If you’re already having problems like that and you haven’t even started your career yet, it would be best to work on yourself before you make take on the obligation to pursue a path that will challenge you to become someone else.

10. Don’t Romanticize Your Career Around the Idea of Having a “Dream Job”

Nowadays, it’s as if everyone wants the easiest possible route to riches, but nobody wants to admit to themselves that hard work will be necessary regardless of the path taken. Even people who “do what they love to do for a living” like entertainers, athletes, and other celebrities have full schedules and plenty of burdens. A job is always a job, even if it’s better than the next one.

Have at Least 1 or 2 Backup Plans

Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea. With so many vocational courses available that can provide basic certification or skills-based qualification, there’s really no need to only specialize in one profession. If your main career choice doesn’t pan out as expected, it helps to have a few extra credentials on standby to prove that you’re a skilled worker. That way, you’ll never run into financial problems due to career changes and challenges later on.