Deciding When It's Time to Switch Careers

With the median time than an average worker has been with their company at less than five years, it's a good bet that most everybody will have to change job (or even their career) at least a few times in their lifetime. Industry downsizing, an economic recession, or other factors can require a person to re-tool their skill set so that they can find a new job. Sometimes, more personal factors require a career change. A person may feel that their current job lacks promotional opportunities, that it doesn't fit into their current lifestyle (if they have just had children or have to care for an aging parent, for example), or that it just isn't fulfilling for them anymore.

One of the easiest ways to make getting a new job or changing careers easier is education. Furthering their education shows future employers that a person is serious about their career field, and is willing to invest time and money to become more knowledgeable about their field. Gaining more education is also a way for an applicant to show prospective employers that their skill set is up to date. More education can also decrease the training time for a new employee -- a major advantage to any employer.

Many people think that going back to school will be too expensive or too difficult. However, education has changed so much in the last 20 years, that nearly everybody can find a program that is in their budget and within their time constraints. Most schools have at least some of their course offerings available online. This means that even a person who is still working can easily fit school in with their current job. Courses offerings on the Internet also allows a person to attend a school in another city or even another state. People who live in rural areas or people who have to travel extensively for their current jobs can attend class virtually, and not have to miss anything due to geography.

Figuring out how to finance going back to school can be challenging, but nearly everybody can afford to go back to school somewhere. There are obvious price differences between schools, but it is generally a good idea to apply to several schools, and see what the final costs will be. Sometimes, a program will cost more, but the amount a student has to pay is actually much less because of grants and scholarships the school is able to offer.

At a minimum, most students can qualify for loans to go back to school. Many of these loans are guaranteed by the federal government, so a person does not have to have good credit or have an income to qualify for them. Although these loans do have to be repaid after graduation, they often have repayment advantages over a traditional bank loan. Additionally, these loans often have loan forgiveness plans if a person is in a certain career field (such as a teacher, or an employee in the public sector).

After a person has increased their education, they often find that they get interviews and job offers that they could not have gotten with just their experience alone. Also, going back to school helps a student get a network of contacts in their new career field that can help them get a job. Doing an internship or a job shadow can help a person transition into a new career. Investing a bit of time and money into education often helps a person's career transition happen smoothly.