10 Things You Need To Have By 20 in Jamaica

The big two-oh is a pivotal time in a young person’s life. It can be a transition from carefree teen years into adult responsibility. In Jamaica, for most persons, turning 20 means preparing oneself for job/career success. By 20, most of us are expected to have completed high school, gained some kind of secondary education, and either moved on to tertiary education or into some other form of preparation for the work world. It’s the definitive corner from certain aspects of ‘childhood’ into ‘adulthood’, even if it doesn’t feel like it – and it often won’t! So here are some of the things you will need to be armed with in order to go forward into your 20s. These are specific to the Jamaican situation, but also relevant to the wider context of preparation for work life beyond the teen years:


This is the most crucial form of identification you will possess, especially when in foreign countries. If you don’t already have one, you need to put it at the top of your list, because your passport is your gateway to the rest of the world. Find out how to apply for your passport here.

Voter’s ID

Citizens of Jamaica who are 18 and older are encouraged to register with the Electoral Commission of Jamaica to get their names on the voter’s list, and to be issued with a National Voter’s ID. The voter’s ID is the primary form of identification used by most persons for work and business transactions, and is therefore very essential. Find out how to get registered to get your ID here.

47605money2Savings account

Most people over 30, and everybody over 40, will tell you to start saving now, if you haven’t already begun. A huge part of your life’s success will depend on the habits you develop now, and saving is one of the best habits you can develop. It is essential for wealth creation, for funding personal projects, and for so many other things (think house, car, studies, travel …). Don’t wait until you’re in your mid-thirties or early 40s to get serious about saving. This is one habit that will redound to your benefit.

Credit union account

Different from your savings account, most people will recommend that you open a credit union account. This is because credit unions tend to be more customer-friendly in terms of savings options, as well as loans and other lending facilities. IF, for example, you require a loan to do your tertiary studies, most people will recommend going to a credit union as they tend to have more reasonable interest rates and better payment plans than banks and other financial institutions.


Your tax registration number (TRN) is a unique nine-digit identification number assigned to each individual taxpayer, business enterprise, organization (non-profit, partnership, charity, etc.) by way of an automated system. . Find out how to apply for your TRN here.

NIS number

The National Insurance Scheme (NIS) is a compulsory contributory funded social security scheme, which offers financial protection to the worker and his family against loss of income arising from injury on job, incapacity, retirement, and death of the insured. As long as you plan to work in Jamaica, you will need an NIS number. Find out how to get one here.

textbooksSecondary education

By 20, you should have completed secondary education and have achieved some kind of qualification or certification that allows you to either enter the work world or move on to tertiary education and training opportunities. In the Jamaican context, this is usually reflected in the attainment of passes in at least five Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects, including mathematics and English language, and possibly Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subjects as well. If you haven’t then you have plenty of catching up to do, and now is definitely the time to do it.

Resume and career portfolio

It’s essential for you to have, at this point, a professionally laid out resume outlining your accomplishments up to this point. Most people will have a resume by the age of 20, but not everyone will have put much time and thought into the impression they are making with resume layout, wording, etc. Don’t wait until you’re 30 to craft a good resume. Stay ahead of the curve by ensuring that your resume highlights your achievements and qualifications in the best, most effective way possible, and can be easily built on in future.

Life goals

By 20, it is highly unlikely that you will have the world, or even your life, figured out. What it would be great to have, however, is an idea of where you’d like to go in life. It may be as general as successful, rich, famous or good at something; or it may be as specific as neurosurgeon, talkshow host, husband, mom or architecture.

A sense of identity

Here are two of the big things you should be aware of by now:

  • the world is one big global village, full of life and diversity. Embrace that, and allow yourself to grow through respect and tolerance for all the differences that exist
  • you are who you are, and while you’re growing and changing, you should make time to celebrate who and where you are in life. Because you are ALWAYS valuable and worth celebrating – always.