Maybe you are tired of the job you’ve been doing for the past few years, and you just want to try something new. Maybe you’ve only been in your current field a short while, but can already tell it’s just not working out the way you wanted. Or maybe you’re transitioning out of the military and about to start a new life as a civilian, but want to work in an area that differs from what you did in the service.
Whatever the case, put some hard thought into that next big move!
Changing careers is a life-altering decision with long term consequences for you and your family. So here are a few important things to consider when switching careers!
One of the biggest reasons people want to switch their occupations is because they don’t enjoy their work. So before you spend the time and effort to get into something new, make sure it’s what you really want to be doing. Visualize yourself actually doing the work. Or better yet, if possible, look for internships or volunteer options to get your feet wet and see what the day-to-day is like. You can even find somebody in that profession to speak to.
All too often, a job looks far more appealing on paper than what it’s actually like with boots on the ground.
Everyone wants instant gratification, especially when they’ve made a decision to do something drastic. But hold your horses! Many times people rush to hop into a new field without thinking about the possibility for future promotions or the ability to grow.
That cold fact is, some jobs don’t offer much in those areas. So look ahead, and plot out a timeline. Will your new job give you those opportunities to advance, or are you going to be stagnate, at the same salary and position description for years and years to come?
The Future of the Field
Along the same vein of thought, consider the future of the career field as a whole.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is an amazing resource for letting job seekers learn more about the wide variety of careers in our country, and one key factor to pay close attention to as you’re doing is homework on that site is the job outlook.
Are you considering entering a sector with a grim future ahead, where there are a diminishing number of jobs due to automation or some other variable? Or is the profession growing, due to an increasing demand for skilled workers over the coming years?
In other words, is it something with a genuinely bright future ahead or not? If so, that’s where you want to be! If not, why waste your time pursuing a career that is becoming obsolete?
Time to Train
You’re keen to get started in your new career right away, which is understandable. However, maybe you first need training and/or education. How long is that going to take?
Lots of workers go back to school to get whatever certification or degree is needed for a new career, but if that’s going to take a while (say, a few years if you’re looking to get an entirely new degree), then you may want to consider keeping your current job while attending school.
If that’s not an option, then ensure you’ve got a rock solid plan to pay the bills while doing your studies. Depending on the situation, many career switchers move back with their parents to save money while they learn their new trade. The more support systems you can set up, the better your ability to focus on your education.
Certain types of work tend to gravitate to certain cities, so always keep this in mind as you think about what you want to do next. Are you planning to stay in your same area, or are you willing to relocate to where the jobs are? And again, think ahead. Perhaps at an entry level opening, there are jobs available in your location, but what about in five or ten years as you (hopefully) climb up the ladder?
If a move seems anywhere on the horizon, how do your loved ones feel about that? Are they on board and ready to uproot, now or in the foreseeable future? For military members, frequent moves are par for the course, but sometimes families just want to settle in and establish a more permanent home base.
So think long and hard before picking a job that’ll require a move, and ensure you’ve got a consensus in advance!
Switching careers is easily one of the most daunting endeavors a person can take on. But sometimes it’s necessary, to earn a better paycheck or to do work that holds meaning for you. There’s no cookie cutter answers, because everyone’s situation is unique. But the biggest takeaways are to do your research thoroughly, make a detailed, well thought out plan of action, talk to friends and family to get feedback (and consensus, if needed), tweak your game plan as needed, and then implement your strategy to get rolling!