This guest post was written by Alicia Lawrence, a Harrisburg-based writer and entrepreneur specializing in communication and health. See her full bio and other posts here.
Decades ago, a career was something that an individual could expect to be singular. A person went to college to pursue a career path or had on-the-job training directly out of high school. However someone came by his or her chosen manner of work, there was no expectation of change. There was also no need to fear job security.
Times have changed. Now, the average American can be expected to change careers several times during the course of his or her life. Much of this is driven by the uncertainty of job stability and the desire to find a more fulfilling career.
There are certain things to consider before making the jump to a brand new career field.
Do You Have Transferable Skills?
Before making the leap, take a personal inventory of your skills and education. It’s possible that certain abilities you already have can help you adapt more easily. For example, if you spent years working as an administrative assistant and your educational background is in criminal law, the combination of work experience and education can help if you’re looking to become a paralegal. Such a person would have an advantage compared to someone having little knowledge of either field.
If you’re looking to move out of your current career field, you can make it easier on yourself by choosing a career that works well with what you already know and can do.
If you’re pursuing a career field that’s entirely new to you, remember that it will take time to learn necessary skills. Patience is a virtue.
Is The Pay Worth It?
Imagine that you’ve taken the time to go back to school and get a degree in a brand new career field that you find far more interesting than your old job. Now imagine that after graduating you’ve found out that not only are jobs in your new career field scarce, they barely pay half as much as what you were previously earning. Ouch.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries can vary thanks to a variety of factors. First, there’s the job itself. A sales manager can expect to make an average salary of roughly $120,000. At the same time, a retail salesperson can expect an average salary of about $25,000. Factors like experience, education, and even references can play a role in how much you have the potential to earn over time.
Some jobs, despite being interesting, may not provide the best pay. This is where you must decide your motivation for seeking a career change. Does the pay matter to you? Are you passionate about the job you’ll be doing? For some, genuinely enjoying their work means more than a high rate of pay. For others, this is something to strongly consider before making any sort of career change.
Are You Genuinely Interested or Merely Bored?
For some, a “much needed change” is more about escaping the perceived boredom that comes with their current job. The obvious remedy is to look for something more exciting with a larger work load. However, what if you find that your new career is extremely stressful? It’s best to do a great deal of research when considering a new career, especially one that’s going to call for a heavier load of responsibilities. Weigh the pros and cons and then decide whether a change is right for you.
If you’re just bored with your current career path, perhaps you can get a boost outside of work. Take up a new hobby like surfing or skiing, or perhaps plan a fun vacation getaway. Sometimes career changes are necessary, but consider all your options before taking the leap.