Do you have a hobby – something you really enjoy doing in your spare time? Do you love gardening, taking care of animals, dancing, or hiking? Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could spend more time on your hobby and less time at work? Maybe it's not an either/or situation. Perhaps you can do both at the same time.

When choosing a career, one of the things you must consider are your interests. Why then do so many people not even think about their hobbies when a hobby is, in fact, an interest. Perhaps it's because even Webster's Dictionary defines a hobby as "a pursuit outside one's regular occupation". Maybe this is a rule you should break. After all, no one ever said your hobby had to stay separate from your occupation. In addition people are usually very skilled at their hobbies. The combination of interest and skill are very compelling reasons to choose a particular career.

"Who's going to hire someone who loves making beaded jewelry?" you may ask yourself. Good question. Don't wait for someone to hire you. Start your own business. That may be the best way to incorporate your hobby into your career. Those with hobbies that involve creating things, jewelry, clothing, or pottery, may do well to sell those items on their own. Before you go forward with your plans, though, you should find out whether being an entrepreneur is for you.

Let's say you determine that running a small business isn't for you. You can still turn your hobby into a career, but you may have to get some formal training. Let's go back to the person who loves making beaded jewelry. That person probably knows the latest jewelry styles, has an understanding of what styles look good on different people, and also is skilled in using the tools of the trade. A number of options exist for that person. He or she could go to school to learn how to be a jewelry designer. Alternatively, that person could become a jewelry buyer for a department store or a salesperson in a jewelry store. He or she could also learn to become a jeweler by taking courses at a trade school or by learning on the job.

When you attempt to turn your hobby into a career don't forget to do your homework. Even though you may have enjoyed training your 34 parakeets to sing the National Anthem that doesn't mean you're cut out to be an animal trainer. Be sure to research your career choice thoroughly. There may be aspects of it that just aren't for you. In that case, stick to your day job, as they say, and save your hobby for your free time.

(Career Planning Guide, Dawn Rosenberg McKay)