Reviewed by Julie Vandekreke
If you’ve ever thought about changing careers, you know doing so can be a challenge. When is the right time to change? How do you position yourself in a new job market? Do you have the credentials to be taken seriously? To handle these questions, create a plan to lay out the possible adjustments to make both personally and professionally for the best chance of success.
There are several critical steps you should complete if you feel you’re ready for a career change. Going through these steps and working on each one will tell you how much time and effort you’ll need to enter into a new job successfully.
Steps To Complete When You’re Thinking About Changing Careers
The first step is self-awareness that what you’re currently doing isn’t making you happy. There could be several reasons to feel unhappy in your current career:
- Lack of promotion opportunities – you have reached a level that you aren’t able to move past. This may be an educational roadblock, or a result of other factors, like company culture.
- Limited salary potential – you realize that earning a larger salary will require you to earn additional credentials, travel more, or work shifts that you aren’t willing or able to.
- Not passionate about the work – if your work lacks interest and satisfaction for you, you may find yourself gravitating toward more fulfilling career choices.
- Work hours and/or commute limits your personal life activities – spending all your free time on a commute often contributes to job satisfaction and leads to missed opportunities with family and friends.
- Technology impacts your work opportunities – changing technology can impact job satisfaction, add to your desire for more education, and/or lead to a decision to change careers.
Once you know what your reasons are, answer these questions to help you focus on what you want to do next:
- Consider what you would like to do to earn a living that makes you excited to go to work. You don’t dread Monday mornings when you like what you do and where you work.
- Next, ask what career opportunities exist for your dream job. The number of job openings in a new area can make it more or less difficult to get started on a new career path, no matter how excited you may be. Be honest with yourself about opportunities.
- Think about whether you might be asked to relocate to work in a new career. Certain cities are home to certain industries, so you‘ll need to decide if you’re willing to move in order to start a new career you’ll love. If not, consider the best opportunities in your area are and go from there.
- Ask what personal challenges you will have to work through in order to change careers. If you’re more concerned about your social status and salary rather than being more fulfilled, the timing may not be right to make a change.
- Do you have the support of your family and spouse to make a career change, especially if it means you will quit your current job and face limited finances? This is a big discussion, so make sure you involve everyone who will be impacted in your decision-making process.
- Research how long it will take you to transition to a new career. Consider whether or not you need more education and how long it will take to complete as you make a decision. Making new connections and getting a new position can all take time.
Often, the most important questions are:
- What new skills and knowledge do you need to be competitive in your new career?
- What kind of training or education will you need to start that new career?
- How will you get that training or education?
More Steps To Do When You Want To Change Careers
Once you’ve assessed what you want to do next, including identifying whether you’ll need additional education, you can work the following steps:
- Identify your knowledge and skill gaps. Be honest about what you may need in order to be prepared for a new career field. Investigate the credentials of those who are already successful in your chosen field, then learn how to add those credentials to your resume.
- Determine how will you fill these knowledge and experience gaps. There may be many alternatives, from an additional or higher degree or a certification that may take less than a year. Make the right choice for you and where you hope to go inside your new career field.
If all you need is to serve an apprenticeship, get into the appropriate program and complete the hours and skill development under a mentor. But if getting another degree is the key to changing careers, you’ll need to assess what prior college courses count towards getting that degree and then seeing what classes you’ll need to take going forward.
Taking online college courses is a great way to get the credentials needed for a new career field for several reasons. They’re self-paced, cost less, and transfer easily to many colleges and universities that may offer the degree program you need for a career change. Adult learners find online classes fit their lifestyles better and allow them the flexibility, both financially and in their lifestyle, to create change.
Shifting careers is never easy but can be rewarding as you realize and achieve what you need to do to be happy in your life’s work. If you’re considering a career change, taking college classes online can be an important first step to starting a new career. StraighterLine offers two free lessons to help you decide whether online learning is a good fit for you, so why not start today to realize your new career goals?