Changing careers is a huge step, but it is not impossible. You don’t have to completely throw aside your current career and all the hard work that you have put into it. You might need to reinvent yourself, learn new skills and gain new qualifications, but your working career up until now is not for waste.
You should never be scared of changing careers if it means investing your time and energy into something you are passionate about. You have options, and to help you understand these options, we have put together an easy guide:
Signs it is Time to Change Careers
There are two main signs that it is time to completely change your career and find something that you love:
You Don’t Feel Inspired By Your Current Industry
Not liking your current job position does not mean that you need a new career. For many, working their way up to their dream job in said industry is just a small price that you need to pay. On the other hand, if you are in an industry you don’t care about, then it is time to think about changing your career: the earlier, the better in this case.
You can easily tell if the industry is not of interest to you if you don’t want any of the job role promotions available to you. If you are working only for the paycheck, then you deserve to find an industry that you feel passionate about.
You Dream of Being Something Else
Dreams can develop at any age. Just because the career you imagined for yourself as a child didn’t pan out does not mean that you have failed. Children have a very narrow view of the job opportunities and industries that are available. In some cases, new industries might arise between your childhood dream forming and you entering the workforce. The point is if you dream of being something else, you should take that desire seriously. Finding a job that you feel fulfilled and invigorated by is priceless and essential to good quality health and wellbeing.
Signs to Consider
Signs that you should consider, but don’t necessarily mean you should change your career path are as follows:
You Don’t Like Your Current Job
Not liking your current job is not the same as not liking your industry. Changing careers is a huge step. Changing jobs within the same industry is much easier, as you already have experience in that industry regardless of what new skills you need to develop.
You Feel Underappreciated or Underpaid
If you feel underappreciated or underpaid, it might be a sign not that you need to change careers, but that you need to find a better employer. Some employers are going to only care about their bottom line and about increasing their profits, which means undercutting their employees. They are not employers who work for your loyalty, and therefore you should not feel bad about finding your job role at another company.
How to Successfully Change Careers
Successfully changing careers is not easy. It will take time, patience, and a lot of hard work. You will also likely have to drop down the professional totem pole, in order to work your way back up in the specialization of your choice.
Invest Time to Learn About Your Interests
It can be hard to decide on a new career when you don’t know what the options are. A great way to discover new job roles and even entire industries is to start first with your interests. You can take short, free online courses that further develop your understanding of your interest. Pay particular attention to the experts that these courses bring in to talk to you. What are their job roles? Where do they work? This could give you a better understanding of where you can go with your passions.
Go to Conferences, Events, Talks, and Workshops
Before you commit to completely changing your career after you have found an industry or job role, you should find conferences, events, talks, and workshops in and around your area. This way, you can learn more about what the current thinking is, meet people who work in the industry, and get a real feel for what they do. As a bonus, you will also be networking with people who could help you, later on, find a job or even hire you themselves. At the very least, they will give you keen insight into how they progressed through their careers.
It will give you a better understanding of the pathways available to you. Not everyone’s path will be the same. If you can, see if you can find someone who also switched careers as you intend to, as this will give you the best insight into how to direct your efforts moving forward.
Understand the Legal Requirements
Lawyers, Financial Advisors, anyone in the Healthcare industry, and many more have legal requirements and qualifications that they must meet in order to be employed. If you are interested in any of these, it is crucial that you look up what the legal requirements are to work in your country or state.
Being a nurse, for example, means that you need to achieve several qualifications and, after you have completed the certifications or degree, to then go and take a national exam that proves your knowledge and competency in the field. This has to be done to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, a Licensed Nursing Assistant, a Registered Nurse, and every step then on. You cannot progress through the medical industry without these certifications or the degrees associated with them.
Going for the easiest route is also not advisable. In nursing, for example, you can become an RN with a degree rather than a Bachelor in Nursing Science. This is not advised, as it will limit your future career progression. You will need a BSN in order to qualify for a Masters and then, in turn, for a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Having a doctorate is essential if you wish to specialize in a field or even go on to become the Director of Nursing at a hospital.
Look at Job Listings
If your dream job does not have any legal barriers, then you are going to have to start by searching for your dream job role. The descriptions in job listings will give you an overview of what skills and experience you need.
Get the Qualifications You Need
If you need qualifications or certifications to say you can do the job or use specific machines or software programs, then there is no way around it. You will need to get back into school and get those qualifications first. In some cases, this will be a short course; in others, it means committing to working and studying for a BA, MA, and even a Doctorate.
How to Get into Your Dream Industry
Knowing what you need to do and even working on obtaining your qualifications is your first step. Actually getting into your dream industry will involve:
Find a Job That Allows for Horizontal Progression
The best option is if you can find a job in a company that allows and even encourages you to shadow and learn from different departments. This way, you could move from the accounting department to the marketing department, for example. Companies that hire inwards offer great career opportunities and give you the ability to make money and learn at the same time. As you move up in your new career, you can provide exceptional value due to your dual approach.
Internships are not ideal. They are often exploitative and don’t offer students, much less those who already have a career, the experience or the opportunities that they hope for. That being said, they can be a good starting point for you to learn more about the industry and give you the necessary contacts to get hired later on.
The important thing to remember with internships is that the company and employer matter. Some companies offer internships to get free labor. Others do it in order to help those progress in their careers. Find a company that focuses on the latter.
Start From the Bottom
In some cases, you won’t have a choice but to start from the very bottom. Your expertise in another industry might help you down the line, but for now it won’t be of much use. This can be very frustrating, especially if you have spent years in your old career, but if you are perusing your passions, then the price is worthwhile.
What to Remember as You Go
Changing careers is hard work, which is why you need to care for yourself. You cannot push hard and work hard the entire time. Playing catch up is not healthy nor sustainable. Instead, you need to set a healthy, consistent pace so that you reach your goals without burning out. Achieving this can be done in two ways:
Your Health is Important
Care for your health. Prep healthy lunches on Sunday beforehand if you need to, or invest in healthy eating programs that send you all the food you need to make a healthy dinner. Whatever works for you, commit to it. You should not be eating junk food just because you are tired after a long day at work.
The same applies to exercise. If you can, bike to work or exercise on the way there or back. That way, your exercise will become a part of your regular routine.
Fulfillment Comes from Beyond the Job
Make time for your hobbies, interests, friend, and family. Changing careers to one you are passionate about is great, but there will always be more to life than your job. Make time for all the things and people you care about so that you can have a great life and feel fulfilled in every corner.