Changing careers is one of the scariest thing a person can do, especially later in life. In our 20’s we are typically feeling things out and maybe doing a lot of grunt work, or taking jobs that are outside the field which we studied in school. In our 30’s, we start perfecting our skills and increasing our marketability (and possibly buying our first home and raising a family). Through our 40’s, we may be trying to establish ourselves as experts in our field, still raising kids, or maybe getting ready to kick them out of the nest.
At any point beyond our 20’s, changing careers is a frightening and uncertain prospect. No one wants to be stuck doing entry-level grunt work in their 30’s and 40’s. Trust me! 🙂
Yet despite these fears and uncertainties, more people than ever are changing their careers, like Michelle from the Shop My Closet Project recently did! Sometimes, it works out very well. Other times, it is a complete disaster. There are many reasons people change careers including:
- Bored with the original career path
- Forced to relocate into an unfavorable job market
- Reached a glass ceiling
- Feelings of being unfulfilled or burned out and want a challenge or something “more” out of their career and life
While all of these are valid reasons to seek a career change, the success of said venture is all about timing. Here are three factors that will help you determine if now is the right time for a career change of your own:
Do You Have Time to Devote to Reeducation?
Moving from one career to another entails a much steeper learning curve then merely changing jobs. If you are going from an office assistant to a nurse, it is going to take you quite a bit of time to get up to speed.
You will want to honestly assess the amount of time you have to devote to learning a new subject and developing new skills. Fortunately, there are many accelerated programs through the country that can help with this aspect of your decision. For example, studying nursing at Gwynedd Mercy University in Pennsylvania with or without an RN is an accelerated process that can takes several months off the time it would take in a non-accelerated program. Still, you need a certain amount of dedicated time for study. Without it, you will want to wait before making a major career change.
Can You Afford the Initial Investment?
It costs money to change careers. There is the obvious educational investment you will need to make. But there is also the initial change in income. There may be a period when you are no longer working at your old job during the transition. Even when you get the new job, you will find yourself at the entry level. It may take some time before it really starts paying off financially.
It is even possible that you are leaving a career that you do not like for a less lucrative one that you do. You might make less money as a nurse than you did as an advertising consultant. But you may find nursing more rewarding in other ways that really matter to you. Many people have embarked upon a new path, only to later discover that they did not have sufficient funds to see it through. I made that mistake when I took online classes to become a life coach. I didn’t have enough cash saved up to pay for the classes, and went into debt because of it. Don’t make your career change until your financial grasp is equal to your reach.
Are You Mentally and Physically Capable of the New Challenge?
Let’s take a brief moment for a reality check. If you struggled through high-school science, a career in theoretical physics is likely not for you, or if you get queasy at the sight of blood, you might not want to go into the medical field. Even if you’re up for the challenge, be realistic!
If your new career involves more time in school, do some assessment testing to be sure that you have what it takes to be successful academically. After you get a $30,000 student loan is too late to realize that you are not that good at school, and would probably make a lousy teacher. If you don’t have the time, money, and capacity to make a career change right now, you might want to hold off a bit longer.
Have you ever made a career change mid point in your career? How did it turn out? Are you considering making your own change?