Three Things to Consider When Considering a Career Change

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Marie from Wayne State University asked:

I have been doing social work for five years and have not found it rewarding. It is time for a change, but I don’t want to spend thousands on more in schooling. What professions can I transfer into using my current degree or by possibly taking a few additional credits for a different degree?

Hi Marie

Starting over in a new career is rarely easy but is very important when you are not happy in your work.  We spend too much time in our jobs to not find them personally and/or professionally rewarding in some way. So, I commend you on your decision to consider your alternatives.

Here are three things you need to keep in mind as you consider a career change:

crossroads1What do you really want?

Setting your priorities and following them is extremely important when considering new career paths.  You don’t like your current job, but you don’t want to just jump from the frying pan into the fire either.

What are your priorities?  Personal fulfillment, professional advancement, type of work, stability, earning potential, schedule flexibility, benefits, work environment, autonomy … the list goes on.  Some of these priorities are complementary, some of them compete.  If earning potential is your top priority, you will not be able to consider some kinds of work.  If benefits are your top priority, you may not be able to consider all types of employers.  If type of work is your top priority, you may have to sacrifice earning potential, because not all jobs pay high wages.

Life is full of trade-offs.  What trade-offs are you ready to make.  Most of us can’t get everything we want, so getting everything you want out of a career is probably an unrealistic expectation.

Have high expectations but not unreasonable ones.  To do this, you need to set your priorities. As you consider new careers, factor in what you really want.

What do you really need?

Understanding your personal, professional and financial obligations will help you understand your options when it comes to making a career change.

  • Do you have personal obligations that will limit your schedule, work activities or ability to relocate or travel for work?
  • Do you have profession obligations that restrict the employers or types of employment you can pursue?
  • How much do you need to make to make ends meet for you and your family, save for emergencies, and plan for your future?  What you need to make each month may impact your career options.

We all have obligations to meet; whether personal, professional or financial.  As you consider new careers, factor in what you really need.

What do you need to do to prepare?

Remember that more education will not necessary make you more employable, nor will it necessarily increase your earning potential.  Changing careers does not always require additional education; sometimes, it does. Just not always.

As you consider career options, keep this question in the back of your mind:

What additional education or certifications will I need to pursue this career path and what will doing so cost me in time and money?

Answers to that question will help you determine whether or not the career path you are considering is worth the investment required to pursue it.

So, before you make any decisions about going back to school as a way to change careers, spend some time wrapping your head first around what you really want and around what you really need. Once you know your answers to those two questions, you will be in a better position to determine what you need to do to prepare for the change.

It may indeed be time for a change.  As you make that change, do everything you can to make it a positive one!

Good luck,



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