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What is a Fallback Career?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A fallback career can be defined as a second career choice, should one’s first choice in a career not be available. With today’s fluctuating job market, and with many jobs being sent overseas, many college students now often choose a fallback option to maximize their diversity as future employees.

In certain fields, having a fallback career is a definite must. For example, careers in the performing or visual arts or in writing can be challenging to maintain and may not at first offer enough money to live on. Students who can work at something else while writing the great American novel or becoming a famous actor or artist will find it much easier to pay off student loans and meet their financial obligations when school ends.

In order to establish a fallback career a college student might pursue a double major, so that skills in a second field can compensate for competition in a first field. Alternately, they might evaluate other careers in the field in which they’d like to be involved. For example, the fledgling novelist might also major in journalism and become an editor, or learn how to write ad copy, a lucrative field. The actor or actress could work in other less competitive fields in the performing arts like managing theaters, or working in sound or lighting.

Students in the sciences might be interested in pursuing more than one area of science in order to make themselves more marketable to employers. They might for example, really want to be zoologists, a competitive field. However, a degree in biology or chemistry could give them fallback options.

Others learn a trade as a fallback career instead of taking a double major option in college. Learning how to be a construction worker, a plumber, an electrician or an HVAC technician can all provide additional career options until one’s first career choice takes off. Certain jobs can’t be outsourced outside of the US and might be considered good fallback options. As well as those listed above, people in the US will still need hair stylists, computer technicians, human resource specialists, therapists, emergency medical technicians as well as many other jobs.

Sometimes, simply taking a few extra classes while in school, or afterwards, are enough to provide fallback career options. For example, an English major who has skills in computer programming or computer programs like Word, Excel and Access can usually seamlessly fit into an office job. Many schools also offer certificate programs, which are of short duration, and can be earned either before or after one completes college.

One fallback career that many people consider is teaching. While teaching can be a good career, it is best undertaken by those with a genuine interest in working with children, teens or young adults. If teaching is not legitimately interesting to the person considering it, this fallback career may not be the best choice.

While it would be ideal if everyone who wanted a job in a certain field could get one, this is not the case in many competitive fields. Choosing additional education or training that makes one a more marketable employee can be of significant advantage to people exiting college. Further, greater education or training may benefit one in one’s first choice career, as well as in any fallback career one chooses.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By Rundocuri — On Mar 27, 2014

@raynbow- Another good idea for a fallback career is as a childcare provider. It is easy to get certified to do this type of work, and many parents in any given area are in need of quality care for their children.

By Raynbow — On Mar 26, 2014

Another good way to have a fallback career is to start your own small business. Though this may seem difficult, it can actually be quite easy to do. Simply choose something you enjoy doing and expand on it in a way to make money.

For example, my mother loves to cook, so she took a few culinary arts classes to expand her skills. To supplement the money she earns at her full-time job, she caters parties and events on weekends. In the event that she ever loses her job, she has a fallback career to pursue.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor...
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