Changing career paths midstream is more common than many people may realize. Sometimes it is the result of working in a field that no longer holds an interest as it once did and other times it’s all about earning potential. There are even instances where job availability within a certain geographic location is limited, and relocating is not an option. For whatever reason, if you are interested in changing your career after having earned a degree and have experience under your belt, there are practical ways to accomplish this. These five suggestions might give you the impetus you need to move forward.
1. Do the Research First
Before finalizing your decision to move to another career, take the time to do the research. Look not only at the national job potential but also at your local area. Unless you are willing to relocate, the career change you would like to make might be unreasonable. Look at employers in your region, entry level paygrades, and even the potential for upward growth.
If possible, talk to people who work in those companies and organizations to learn a bit about the company culture. You may want to work within that field, but if there are no prospects available, you may want to reconsider changing careers at this time.
2. Broaden Your Scope
As mentioned above, there just may be no (or limited) job prospects in the location you wish to be employed. This doesn’t mean you cannot work within that field; it simply means you may need to broaden your scope a bit. As an example, maybe you are a high school biology teacher and have found that working with students is not really your forte. You want to stay in the field of biological sciences but not as a teacher. Perhaps you would like to be in research at a major university. In the absence of major universities close enough for commuting, perhaps your hospital has jobs in pathology. It’s a reach, but still a career in a laboratory type setting and something that highly interests you.
3. Advance Your Education
Another primary consideration when changing careers midstream would be the fact that you will often need a different degree than the one you now hold. This doesn’t mean that you need to toss those years (and cost) of getting that degree out the window. There are universities that offer credits for experience in other fields. It all depends on the career path you wish to follow.
Let’s look again at that high school biology teacher. They have a BS in biology and have been teaching for some years. They are dissatisfied with the type of work they do but would like to remain in the field. Perhaps they’d like to be treating people rather than teaching about germs in a classroom. Innovations from schools like Baylor University have online accelerated BSN programs for non-nurses. You could continue working at the job you are seeking to change and also get credit for the four years you have already put into getting that Bachelor of Science degree. The only thing required with online accelerated BSN programs for non-nurses would almost certainly be courses specific to that particular field within the science.
4. Advice for Changing Industries
Sometimes the glamor is there prior to working in a field, as we all are well aware of. This could be the reason why you are discontent with your current profession and are now seeking a career change. Maybe you want totally out of the field of computer science, for example, because you are tired sitting at a desk eight hours a day, five days a week. Perhaps you have been reading the news that civil engineers make an amazing salary and this is a career that would put you out in the field much of the time.
Is that a reality? Perhaps your position as a civil engineer would still put you behind a desk with the more senior engineers out there working with public officials while you do the ‘grunt work’ behind a computer with a leading CAD program. If you were looking to get away from the desk, be prepared to step off the beaten path. Computer science and civil engineering are both careers within the field of science, but totally different industries. Referring back to the research mentioned above, know what to expect before changing directions too quickly.
5. Proceed with Caution
One final bit of advice would be to proceed with caution. This doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your dreams of changing careers; it simply means taking the time to look at the career move from different perspectives. Yes, it takes research and maybe even networking with others in the field. However, there are other things you can do to gauge if this new career will be a good fit for you.
Maybe you can find part-time work within that new industry to get a better handle on what your job specs might be if you changed professions. That biology teacher referenced above may not be able to walk onto a hospital floor as a nurse, but there are other jobs within that hospital they could probably do part-time. Perhaps it might take stepping back into a laboratory once again to get a feel for company culture at that hospital, but it’s a cautionary move to get your feet wet, so to speak.
Don’t Be Discouraged – You Can Do This!
Other things to consider might be the reactions you get from family and friends when mentioning your desire to change careers midstream. If it is a passion you are following and you’ve set your sights on a new career, even within a new industry, know that you can do this. You are the one who will be working in that field, and you are the one who is currently dissatisfied with the career you are currently working within. Just know that your happiness in your newfound professional journey will most often bring those close to you around. Don’t be discouraged. You can do this!