Factors to consider when making a career change

Berry Mathew

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Factors to consider when making a career change

Over the years, many people make the choice to switch to a different career. There can be many reasons for this, from simply being tired of the career you are in to finally feeling that it is the right time to pursue the career you really dream of having.

Changing your career may be easier or harder depending on your exact goals and how flexible you are in where you live.

There are many factors you need to consider when deciding if it is the right time to make the leap and change your long-term career plans. Some factors to consider include:

Do you have time for retraining or gaining a different degree?

The options for retraining and earning degrees are greater thanks to online options. Plenty of people retrain by completing classes either on the weekend or after work each day. This allows working adults to maintain their income while working towards their career goals. That being said, it does take time out of a schedule that may already be tight, especially if you have children or older adults relying on you for care.

Many programs allow for a flexible timeline for degree completion, so even if you are really busy, you may still be able to work some classes in and graduate a bit later than those that can dedicate themselves to a full-time courseload. You may not reach your goals as quickly as you might like, but continual progress will allow you to reach them.

Some career changes may not require as much training as you might think. There are some occupations that are experiencing such shortages of qualified workers that accelerated training programs are being offered. Law enforcement is a good example of a profession that you can enter without earning a four-year degree.

Remember that small steps can lead to great success, and it is far better to start on the path to the career you want and take longer to get there than to never do it at all. Even taking an extra year or two to complete the degree you want is going to lead to a more satisfying work-life balance.

How will you pay for education or training?

Although the cost of higher education is on the rise, there are still some very affordable options out there, especially if you intend on earning a degree online. Scholarships and grants can shave a lot off your tuition. Some companies and government employers may have programs that can help you pay for your education. Previous and current members of the military may have some particularly lucrative financial aid packages available to them.

Applying for whatever financial aid you can and seeing what it adds up to is an important step in determining if you can afford to pursue the career you want. 

There is also the option of taking slightly longer to complete a program so that you can pay as you go. It is important to note though that there are some scholarships and grants that require you to enroll in a minimum number of credit hours to obtain any financial aid they offer to you.

Are you very unhappy in your current career?

It is no fun to feel stuck in a job that you no longer enjoy. Of course, there are plenty of people in careers that they never enjoyed in the first place. Life is too short to stay in a job where you are miserable. While that doesn’t mean you should quit suddenly or on bad terms, it does mean you should make a plan to find a job that is better suited to you. 

With the cost of living on the rise, there is a lot of incentive for people to find better paying careers as well. If you are unhappy in your current job, you need to ask yourself why. The real answer may be more complicated than you realize. These feelings are important to explore before you commit to a career change. After all, you want to make sure that any changes you make are the right ones. It can take time to retrain for the career you really want, so it is a good idea to make sure that you are seeing the new career for what it really is and that you avoid getting yourself in another situation where you are not happy.

Also remember that no career is perfect. There will be challenges and times that you may ask yourself if you made the right decision. This is normal even if you land the position of your dreams.

What are the major benefits of a career change? Are there any hidden consequences?

Have you been stuck in a job that offers little or no opportunity for advancement? Are the included benefits not acceptable for you or your family situation? Have you always dreamed of working in a different role or field?

There is a limit to how far any job can take you. With some jobs that are not very far. If you want to advance, the only choice may be to change careers entirely or at least find an employer that has higher level positions they are hiring for in the same niche you are working. There are plenty of companies that are facing the problem of large numbers of workers retiring. These firms need talented people that are willing to commit to working for them for a long time. Hiring and training employees takes time and money, so for many organizations, the goal is to find the best people that are the most likely to stay.

  • Healthcare and retirement benefits

Better healthcare and retirement benefits are valid reasons for considering a career change. The cost of healthcare is on the rise and shows no signs of stopping. It is important to look at what a company offers before committing to them. While the salary may be higher at one company versus the other you are considering, the benefits packages they offer may mean that the lower salary offer is actually a better financial choice for your family.

Retirement plans and benefits vary a lot and matter more for some than others. The age you make your career change may have an impact on how much value you place on the retirement programs offered.

  • Schedule requirements

Some careers require working odd shifts. Working a regular nine to five schedule five days a week may not be realistic for many careers. It may be that you need to work nights or weekends at times or fewer shifts, but the shifts may be ten to 12 hours. For younger people that do not have children, this may not be a problem at all, but for others, childcare may be challenging to arrange when working odd shifts.

It is important to know shift expectations before applying or committing to any position. If you can only work certain hours, it is critical that you are clear about this if a recruiter from a company approaches you with an employment proposal.

  • Time-off

Policies regarding paid and unpaid leave, vacation days, sick time and maternity or parental leave, vary a lot based on the employer. In the USA, many employers do not offer paid time off for maternity or parental leave. Vacation days and allotted sick days are often based on how long you stay with the company. 

Vacation time that is accrued may have stipulations attached, such as a limit to the amount that can be accrued before taking some of the time. You may also be able to just cash it out and have the paid vacation time added to your check at some point.

  • Commute

The cost of taking on a different job may be higher than you realize if you have a longer commute. A longer commute means spending more on gas and vehicle maintenance and takes away from the time you have when you are not at work. If you have a one hour commute each way, that adds up to two hours extra on your workday plus all the expenses of your trip. That can really be a lot.

For example, if you make $40 per hour at your great new job that adds up to $320 per day for an eight-hour shift. Adding in a one hour commute each way suddenly means you are making $32 for each hour plus whatever your car is costing you. If you could make $32 per hour at home telecommuting, then you might be better off financially and have more time for yourself and your family. Add in other expenses such as additional childcare and working closer to home may make a lot more sense.

Is there a lot of competition for the career you want?

While there are a lot of industries out there that need workers desperately, there are still some jobs and specific positions that are very competitive. If you are determined to break into a competitive market, you need to be aware that it might take some time to find the job you really want and to be hired into the position. Starting at a lower-level position may be necessary, but the good news is that doing so puts you at the top of the list for advancement.

Lower levels of pay to get started in your dream career may be part of the deal. You need to consider what the financial ramifications might mean. You may have to cut back on some expenses for a while.

Do you need to relocate to change your career? 

If you are open to relocating for the right job, then you will find that you have a lot more options for employment. There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to relocation. For example, the cost of living may be higher or lower than where you are now. You need to compare the overall cost of living to the salary, benefits and other perks that are part of the job you are applying for or have been offered. 

If you have a spouse and family, then their needs come into play as well. Can your spouse find work? Can they work from home and keep their current job? What are the educational options for your children?

Being able to relocate quickly can be hard if you own your home and need to sell it. You may need to rent while you sell or rent out the home you own. Some employers may help with relocation if they really need to fill a position.

Researching an area well before making a relocation decision is also important. You need to be sure that you can be reasonably happy living in the area regardless of the job offer. Uprooting your life for a new job can sound exciting, but the last thing you want is to go to all that trouble only to find that the area is lacking in something very important to you.

Do you want fewer challenges or more?

An overly challenging job can be overwhelming. In fact, a lot of people report never feeling accomplished because they are asked to do either too much or things that are impossible to achieve with the resources and authority they are given. 

Perhaps you have spent years taking on challenges and want something easier or at least you want different types of challenges. After all, there are some challenges that are more rewarding than others when you overcome them. 

A career in education offers room for advancement

There is a significant shortage of teachers and other education leaders. Education is a very rewarding career that offers you the opportunity to help people beginning with preschool all the way up to adulthood. There is particular demand in education for those that want to work with preschool to high school-age students.

Not all children learn at the same pace. As an educator, you will be challenged every day to ensure that students have the resources and attention they need to learn skills and gain knowledge. Teachers also play an important role in emotional and social development. There is no better way to have an impact on the future than by helping teach the youth of today.

Education leaders are needed

While teaching is a great place to start in the world of education, there is also strong demand for education administrators. If you currently have teaching credentials, now is a great time to consider earning an additional degree so you can qualify for advanced positions at public and private places of learning. An advanced degree can also be your ticket to a career in the university or college system.

Different advanced degrees focus on specific aspects of education

If you are looking to pursue an advanced degree in education, it is important to look at the key differences in the available degrees. For example, if you are considering whether to choose a Ph.D. vs Ed.D. online degree, it is important to note that an Ed.D., like the one offered by Rockhurst University, is ideal for those who want to train other education leaders or use their knowledge for high-level positions such as the superintendent of their school district. A Ph.D. on the other hand, is better suited for someone that wants to teach and conduct research at college level.  

What do education leaders do?

Education leaders may play many different roles. Someone with a Ph.D. may work in the college system as a teacher but also help design curriculum and develop new courses and degree programs when needed. Developing course materials such as reading guides, quizzes, tests and suggesting essay topics for specific classes is an important role.

Leaders may also take part in administrative decisions and activities. Ensuring universities are funded and that students have adequate access to financial aid and scholarship opportunities is an ongoing goal. Attending seminars and networking with other universities and forming collaborations is common.

Mentoring students and other leaders is something that all leaders should strive to do. It is important that education leaders are approachable and open to hearing constructive criticism and new innovative ideas from staff and students alike.

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Changing careers is something an increasing number of people are considering. The ever-changing job market and challenging economic and social conditions have created an environment where some jobs are more in demand than others. There are also many fields that are having trouble finding qualified workers to fill key positions. Now is a great time to retrain for a new career as there will be many opportunities for promotion and advancement as record numbers of workers reach retirement age.

Education is one field that needs new leaders to take on important roles and help train future leaders. From teaching to designing curriculum or working in administration, there are many different positions to consider or grow into over time.

Remember that changing your career can take some time but it is better to get started and make a little progress towards your goal each day than to never take action.