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A career change can be scary, but it can also be one of your best decisions. Now is a great time to consider such a change—no matter your age. Don’t settle for a job you don’t love. Learn how to turn your dreams of a new career into a reality.

Why You Shouldn’t Be
Afraid to Make a Career

If you’re rethinking your career, you’re not alone. Employees have been
leaving their jobs in unprecedented numbers following the start of the global
pandemic, and many of them are making big changes.

According to Pew Research, more than half of employed adults who quit their
job in 2021 didn’t just switch to a similar position with a different company in their field. Instead, they changed their field of work or occupation entirely. This change has been especially common among workers under 30 and those who haven’t earned postgraduate degrees.

Of course, you can make a career change at any age. Whether you’re looking to make a career change at 30, 40, or 50, there are great reasons to consider making a switch. You could:

  • Achieve your financial goals. If you’re not earning the salary you would like, why not consider a more lucrative field? This is a great move to help you gain more financial security, especially if there’s a way you can transfer some of your existing skills to a new role with higher earning potential.
  • Do something you’re passionate about. Are you feeling burnt out or disinterested in your current career? You deserve to have a job you love
    and find fulfilling. A midlife career change can allow you to experience a newfound sense of excitement and purpose in your career.
  • Gain new opportunities for career growth. You may want to make a
    change if you feel stalled out in your current job. Among those who quit their jobs in 2021, 63 percent said a lack of opportunities for advancement was a contributing factor. Switching to a job with more opportunities for upward mobility can allow you to make the progress you desire.

Whatever you’re hoping to achieve, setting career goals can help you get

1. Research New Career Paths to Find a Great Fit

If you know you want a career change but don’t know what career you want to switch to, take some time to research. Use the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook to see which careers are growing and fit your interests and salary requirements.

You should also ensure you choose a career that aligns with your personal and professional goals. As a writer for Harvard Business Review points out, “Transitions aren’t just about doing something different. A career transition is a lifestyle redesign that often entails rethinking how you want to feel at the end of the day, how you want to spend your time, and how this relates to your longer term goals.”

2. Consider the Skills You Already Have

You may be overwhelmed by the idea of stepping outside your wheelhouse and entering an unfamiliar career field or position. However, the good news is that many skills are highly transferable. Consider the skills you already have that will transfer to a new career.

For example, you may possess great communication skills that will allow you to move into a customer-facing role and handle these interactions with confidence. Or maybe you have data entry skills that will be just as valuable in an accounting context as they are in an engineering one. These transferable skills make you a marketable employee in a variety of industries and roles.

3. Acquire New Skills to Boost Your Qualifications

Does the career you’re considering require an educational credential you don’t have? If so, you should consider going back to school. Find out which degree or certification you need and start researching programs.

If you need more relevant professional experience, look for an entry-level job in your desired field and consider working that job while advancing your education. An entry-level job may feel like a step backward, but when you’re making a career change, jobs with no experience requirements can be a first step that ultimately helps you propel your career forward.

4. Leverage Your Network

Networking is a major way students and professionals find jobs and career opportunities. When you’re preparing to make a career change, don’t be afraid to talk to people you know or have a connection with who are working in your desired career field.

These professionals can tell you more about the day-to-day of the job. Ask them to pass along any information about open positions and share your sincere thanks for their assistance. These connections can be extremely helpful, whether you’re a young professional starting out or making a career change in midlife.

5. Make Yourself Marketable

It may have been a while since you updated your resume. Use this time of transition to refine your resume and add any new experiences or transferable skills you want to highlight. A skill you cultivated in a previous job that didn’t seem relevant at the time may now be critical to your success in your new
career. It’s also smart to brush up on your interview skills.

If you undertake an online degree program, see if your college has a career development center you can access. Career advisors can help you prepare for your career change so you can take on this new endeavor with confidence, no matter how long it’s been since you applied for a new job.

The Role Higher Education Can Play in Achieving Your Goals

Goal setting can sometimes reveal the need for more education to help you reach your eventual career goals. In these cases, education should become a goal itself. For example, you might set a goal that you want to complete a certain course by this time next year to help you add a new skill to your
resume. Alternatively, you may set a goal to obtain a new degree within the next four years to make a career change. For big goals like this, it’s wise to set smaller goals to contribute to the larger goal. For instance, you might specify the courses you plan to complete on a certain timeline to fulfill the requirements of your degree program.

It's Time to Take Charge of Your Future with a Positive Career Change

Whether you want to take on an exciting new challenge or are looking to achieve specific goals, a career change might be on the horizon. In many cases, a career change involves some additional schooling to expand and sharpen your skills. Want to explore some degree programs that will prepare you for an exciting and fulfilling new career? Check out our e-book, The Best Online Degree Programs for Working Adults!

Online degree programs from Mount Vernon Nazarene University are designed with working adults in mind.

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