Are you considering a new career? Maybe you don’t know where to start or maybe you have your ideal career firmly in mind? Whatever your situation, changing career can be a big leap and can often be quite overwhelming so it is important to figure out exactly what it is you want to do and the reasons why and then start planning ahead.
Firstly, you need to identify the reasons for wanting to change careers and assess how strongly you feel about it. There is a big difference between a couple of bad days in the office and constantly feeling unhappy, dissatisfied or burnt-out at work. It is important for you to work out why you are unhappy in your current job and determine whether it is a change of job you require or a change of career. Perhaps you are sick of doing a job that you are simply not passionate about? Or, maybe your present occupation no longer interests you and you are becoming disillusioned or weighed down with too much work? Or, maybe your personal circumstances have changed and you are now in a position to embark on fulfilling your lifetime career ambitions? Whatever your aspired career – and your reasons for doing it – it is not too late to achieve it, so long as you are prepared for what it may entail!
Think carefully about what career area you are completely passionate about or what makes you feel motivated at work. What are your strengths and interests? Choose a career that challenges you in a way that makes you feel accomplished. If you can combine your strengths with your interests in your career so much the better – it means you’re less likely to ever want to change profession again! For example, someone who is good with children and enjoys being around them would perhaps thrive in a profession such as childcare. It may be useful to embark on an evening course or two to get you started – this way you can really see how interested you are in the subject-matter and weigh up whether it is the right career path for you.
When it comes to changing careers planning ahead is imperative. It is often said that a change is as good as a holiday, but even holidays require a certain amount of planning, careful consideration and budgeting. In this way, the more research you do into your proposed career and the more realistic your expectations of getting there, the better equipped you are to meet your long-term goal and enjoy your journey along the way! After all, it is not going to happen overnight. Research the job opportunities in your intended career area and its demand for people like you. Ask yourself what you – and your experience – can bring to this industry and assess the strengths you have that will be invaluable in your new career.
Be prepared for what your long-term goal may mean for you in the short-term. Most changes of career mean that you will have to re-train or gain a qualification in that industry. Ask yourself if you are ready and willing to commit to a course of study, such as a two-year nightcourse degree programme, and whether your financial and personal circumstances will enable you to see it through to the end. Investing in your future means you will have to put in time and effort and you may suffer some initial financial setbacks – such as the cost of your studies and the possibility of starting your new career on a lower salary than what you are currently used to – so you will need to be doubly sure that it is the right choice for you.
A great way to test your commitment to – and interest in – your intended career is to gain some essential work experience in the field. For example, if you are serious about training to be a nurse take up a voluntary post as an auxiliary nurse or as a care assistant in a nursing home at weekends or in the evenings. Do whatever you can to get the experience you need. At least this way you will know if you like it, if it’s what you expected, and if it’s right for you. Use your work experience as a way to test the waters and see if you are really cut out for it and if it is as enjoyable, challenging and rewarding as you had imagined. It is also a great way to impress potential employers – after all practical experience in the industry you are hoping to get into is essential to get a job! Gaining the experience you need will probably mean having to make small sacrifices such as giving up your weekends or evenings to go and work for free – but this is a short-term way of helping you get what you want in the long-term. Besides, if it is the career area you have been dreaming of you will probably love doing it anyway!
Once you’ve decided what you want to do and you are happy that you know what to expect and what it will take, go for it! Remember – you will already have many transferable skills that you can take with you from one career to another, such as communication, leadership, and teamwork skills. These skills and a real desire to succeed in your new career industry will give you the headstart you need on your path to realising true career satisfaction.
Now take a look at the range of part-time, full-time, and postgraduate study options available for you to undertake in order to qualify for entry into your new career sector.