Changing Careers

When you entered the workforce, did you ever imagine that someday you would evaluate your employment situation and decide to stop in your tracks and make a drastic career change? Some people start working in a particular industry and stay there for their entire professional lives. Many others, however, become dissatisfied with their employment and decide to change their careers by entering a different profession altogether.It is not easy to work in one profession for many years and then abruptly switch to a completely unrelated career.

Despite the difficulties, however, this type of thing is not uncommon. Some make this decision because of a personal desire, whereas others are forced to make a change because they’ve been laid off from a job in an industry that has very few potential job openings. No matter what the reason, changing careers usually involves investing time and money into an education so that success in the new career field can be achieved.

The website CareerPlanning.About.com says that “as with any investment, it’s important to be informed before you make it.” Most people would not buy stock in a company without knowing a great deal about the company. Likewise, it’s important to have a considerable amount of information about your desired career before investing your time and money into educational programs and job searches.

Following are some things to consider before making the decision to change careers:

Is a career change really necessary?

Many people are dissatisfied with their current employment circumstances and are convinced that the only way to improve their situation is to completely change careers. However, is the career really the problem, or is it the particular position that you hold?  Ask yourself if you would be happy with your career if you were assigned a different role within the same industry – possibly at a different company. Simply switching jobs within the same industry can be a good way to test if you are truly unhappy with your career choice or if you are simply unhappy in your current position.

You know you want to change careers, but you’re not sure what you want to do.

It’s never a good idea to quit a job without having a clear plan beforehand.  For those who have been laid off, there may be no alternative other than pursuing a career change. However, if you are in a steady job that you do not like, spend some time assessing your interests, evaluating your skills, and determining your future career path BEFORE leaving your current position. There are professionals who can help you determine the best possible career choices based on your personality, your interests, and your salary goals. These professionals are called “Career Counselors.” It is not necessary to spend a great deal of money on a career counselor, but if you are struggling with a decision about your career path, it may be worth the money. In addition to career counselors, friends and relatives can be good resources for helping you gain insight.

Make a Long List of Career Options

It is always helpful to sit down and make a list of occupations that interest you. Have you been thinking about a particular industry for many years? Do you have a skill that would fit well with a particular profession? Do you have a sincere desire to work with people, animals, machines, or to be engaged in creative endeavors?  Once you make a list of possibilities, then it is time to further investigate the careers. Determine what sort of experience is required to find employment in those industries. Do they require a formal education with a major in a particular subject? Are there plenty of jobs available? How will you market yourself to employers within those industries so you can find employment?

Talk with others who work in the career you want to pursue.

Some professional industries may seem glamorous to outsiders, but in reality they are difficult to enter and then generate sufficient income.  Other professions generate a lot of money for employees but are not stable or secure. If you think you want to make a career change, it’s a good idea to contact at least a few people who work in that industry. Ask them if you can take them to coffee or lunch so that you can ask questions about their career. Spending $10 or $20 on a lunch is money well spent if it provides you with useful information regarding a potential career change. If possible, ask them if you can spend a day or two at work with them so you can learn more about their jobs and profession. This is a good idea to see what working in your desired career is actually like.

Volunteer or complete an internship.

Changing careers takes a great deal of time and effort, so it’s essential that the career you choose be the right one. If possible, spend a few days volunteering to work in your desired industry in order to get hands-on experience. Afterwards, you may either change your mind about the career or determine that you absolutely love it. If volunteering is not an option, find out if you can complete an internship (either paid or unpaid) so that you can learn about the career without making a full commitment to it.

Get your education.

Once you’ve made the decision to change careers and have determined that you must enroll in school to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed, make sure you do research so that you select the best possible program. Don’t enroll in the first school you see advertised on television or on the internet. While advertised schools might turn out to be excellent choices for your career path, make sure to look at all of your options before selecting one. School can be expensive so making the correct choice is crucial.

Career happiness will lead to success.

The website CareerOverview.com states, “When people find what they truly enjoy doing and pursue it as a career, they can find happiness and success.” This statement has been made many times over by successful professionals. There is no reason to stay in a career that makes you unhappy if you have the motivation it takes to assess your current situation and determine the correct career path for yourself. 

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Written by Melanie Fischer, Career & Job Expert who has been writing professionally for over 10 years.