Are you trained for one career and have discovered that it either doesn’t suit you, or even worse that job opportunities have fallen by the wayside as many industries are downsizing or permanently outsourcing their work?

Don’t despair. You may find that your skill set and training – or if you are just starting out, your interests and aptitudes – are more versatile than you think. Many skills and much of the training that you learn in college transfers readily to a number of different career areas; it’s simply a matter of “thinking outside the box” and questioning assumptions. Considering options for alternative, non-academic, careers can help jump start you onto a new career path.

Are you a good fit for an alternative career? If you are one of those who chomps at the bit at the idea of sitting in a cubicle every day, punching data into a computer for eight hours and dealing with an often frustrating, top-down hierarchical system that is inflexible and unresponsive, some type of “off-the-path” career may definitely be for you. People who are drawn to, and often excel at these types of careers are those who are driven by a need to express themselves, are able to work independently and alone, and tend to be more holistic in their views and outlook are better suited to these types of careers.

Such careers can include:

  • automotive and engine repair
  • software design
  • entertainment
  • organic farming
  • commercial fishing
  • flying
  • writing
  • computer repair
  • cgi graphics and virtual modeling

If you are someone who enjoys assembling things such as model kits and have good spatial abilities (i.e., visualizing objects in three-dimensional space), mechanical occupations and cgi graphics may be an excellent choice for you. The latter offers some interesting opportunities if you have ever been drawn to film making, as films are increasingly relying on digital effects. Competition for on-screen roles in film is nothing short of brutal, and on-screen careers are uncertain – but those who work below-the-line and on crew positions usually have steady work in places like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

If you have your heart set on an entertainment career, you are likely to be disappointed – unless you extremely lucky and well-connected, or are willing to travel. The fact is that entertainment is one of the last American exports that is in high demand overseas; American entertainers of all stripes do very well for themselves aboard cruise ships and playing club circuits in countries such as Japan and Korea – and to very appreciative audiences.

As a writer, you are unlikely to get rich, particularly as a novelist or screenwriter. However, if you have strong written language skills in English, you can do very well for yourself as a technical writer or writing informative articles for the advertising industry, the legal and/or medical profession, or almost anything else. This requires a native ability to communicate in the English language, but writers for the World Wide Web who can meet deadlines, write with style and accuracy in spelling and grammar and are willing to keep learning can earn between $32,000 and $40,000 per year.