Critical Thinking Skills

Do You Have This Soft Skill?

Man using critical thinking skills
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What Are Critical Thinking Skills?

Critical thinking skills allow you to use thoughtful analysis to make informed decisions. This highly valued soft skill will help you solve problems and reach goals. You must be able to think critically at work, in school, and in your personal life.

Critical thinking involves first identifying the problem you want to solve or the goal you want to reach. Next, you will determine several possible solutions or actions you can take.

After comparing and contrasting your alternatives, you will have to figure out which one is the most likely to be successful. You should note that not all problems can be solved and not all goals achieved, but critical thinking will increase the probability that the actions you implement will get the desired results.

Tips to Help You Develop This Skill

You may think you don't have time to take a slow and measured approach to decision making and problem solving. After all, if you are like a lot of people, time is scarce, and you may want quick and easy answers. However, rushing through your to-do list isn't the best course of action, and it is less productive than using critical thinking skills. There are ways you can develop them.

If you are still in school, sign up for classes that force you to think critically. For example, take a science class. Assignments will require you to test hypotheses before coming to conclusions. 

Art classes also require you to use this skill. To complete projects you have to choose between media and techniques that will best let you achieve your artistic vision. 

You may also consider joining a debate club. Examining issues, adopting stances on them, and then arguing your point will allow you to develop critical thinking skills.

You aren't out of luck if your school years are behind you. Practice your critical thinking while doing everyday things. Before voting, for instance, learn about each of the candidates. When deciding where to have dinner, weigh your alternatives regarding the type of food, healthfulness, and cost. If you are making a purchase, read reviews of different brands.

Careers That Require Strong Critical Thinking Skills

Although critical thinking skills are useful to have in most occupations, they are essential for many. Let's look at some of them:

  • JudgeJudges preside over criminal and civil legal cases, making sure they are handled fairly. 
  • AttorneysAttorneys represent people who are involved in civil and criminal legal cases.
  • ActuaryActuaries estimate the probability of certain events occurring and assess how much it will cost their employers or clients if they do.
  • DoctorsDoctors examine patients in order to diagnose and then treat illnesses and injuries.
  • Operations Research AnalystOperation research analysts solve problems for companies and organizations using their knowledge of mathematics.
  • PrincipalPrincipals manage everything that goes on inside school buildings. They establish educational goals and make sure their faculty meets them.
  • Biomedical EngineerBiomedical engineers first analyze and then solve problems having to do with biology and medicine.
  • Biochemist or BiophysicistBiochemists study the chemical composition of living things. Biophysicists investigate how electrical and mechanical energy relates to living cells and organisms.
  • Medical ScientistMedical scientists research the causes of diseases and find ways to treat and prevent them.
  • Financial ExaminerFinancial examiners make sure banks and other financial institutions adhere to government laws and regulations.
  • EngineerEngineers use their scientific and mathematical expertise to solve problems.
  • Physician AssistantPhysician assistants, under doctors' supervision, examine and treat patients.
  • DentistDentists diagnose and treat problems with patients' teeth and mouth tissue.
  • Special AgentSpecial agents collect information in order to determine if state, local, or federal laws have been violated.
  • GeoscientistGeoscientists study physical aspects of the earth and may search for natural resources.
  • Clinical or Counseling PsychologistClinical and counseling psychologists assess patients for mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders before treating them.
  • AnthropologistAnthropologists study the origin, development, and behavior of human beings.
  • Optometrist: Optometrists diagnose and treat eye diseases and disorders.
  • AudiologistAudiologists diagnose hearing difficulties and balance disorders.
  • ArchaeologistArchaeologists excavate and analyze artifacts left behind by earlier civilizations.
  • ChemistChemists use knowledge about chemicals to create products that improve our lives. 
  • Occupational TherapistOccupational therapists help patients recover their ability to perform daily living and work activities.
  • PilotPilots fly planes and helicopters for airlines that transport people and cargo on a fixed schedule or companies that offer charter flights, rescue operations or aerial photography.
  • Dietitian or NutritionistDietitians and nutritionists plan food and nutrition programs, supervise the preparation and serving of meals, and promote healthy eating habits.
  • EMT or ParamedicEMTs and paramedics treat ill or injured people who need immediate care.
  • Marriage and Family TherapistMarriage and family therapists provide therapy to families, couples, and individuals. They work from the perspective that those with whom we live have an impact on our mental health.
  • Health EducatorHealth educators teach individuals and communities how to live healthy lifestyles.
  • PharmacistPharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and provide them with information about how to use them.
  • Human Resources SpecialistHuman resources specialists find job candidates who are most likely to meet their employers' needs.
  • Urban or Regional PlannerUrban and regional planners help communities figure out how to best use their land and resources.
  • Survey ResearcherSurvey researchers design questionnaires and other tools that are used to collect data about people.
  • AssessorAssessors determine the values of multiple properties for cities, counties, and other municipalities.
  • Forensic ScientistForensic scientists gather and analyze physical evidence from crime scenes.
  • Desktop PublisherDesktop publishers produce publication-ready materials using computer software.
  • Event PlannerEvent planners coordinate conventions, business meetings, trade shows, and private parties for organizations, businesses, and individuals.