Many people change careers at some point in their lives, sometimes more than once. With proper planning, no matter the reason, you can start a fulfilling new career without sacrificing your financial security. We’ve included some tips and considerations to help you make a career transition that works for you.
Consider working with a professional career counselor
Working with a career counselor can ensure you receive career-planning advice tailored to your individual needs and goals. They can help you explore your abilities and interests, clarify your life and career goals and teach you job-hunting skills. Although credentials and services offered vary, the counselor you choose should have extensive training, education, and experience. Professional counselors are often licensed by state counsel or licensing boards.
To find a qualified career counselor, ask friends and family for recommendations and check with colleges and universities in your neighborhood. You can also contact your state employment service. The National Board for Certified Counselors can also provide you with a list of nationally certified career counselors in your state.
Tip: Professional career counselors should follow the ethical guidelines established by organizations such as the American Counseling Association or the National Career Development Association. They should not charge exorbitant fees or make exaggerated promises. Before signing a contract with a career counselor, make sure you understand what services you will receive for your money.
Assess your skills, talents, interests and goals
Many resources are available to help you assess your skills, talents, interests, and goals. If you decide not to work with a professional career counselor, explore your career options by reviewing different blogs and websites devoted to careers. Such resources include tests and exercises you can complete that will help you evaluate what you like to do best and what your strengths are. You can then use this information to determine what career is right for you.
Research potential careers
Before deciding to switch careers, do your homework. What sounds like an ideal career for you may not be. When researching a new career, answer the following questions:
- Will this career be personally gratifying?
- How much money can I expect to make initially? In 5 years? In 10 years?
- Will I be able to find a job where I currently live, or will I have to relocate?
- Will I need to go back to school?
- What is the occupational outlook for this profession?
To find this information, you may have to consult several sources. If you have not yet decided on a career, check employment websites for ideas on available jobs in your area. If possible, talk to others who work in the career field you are considering and find out how satisfied they are with their career choice. They will be able to give you advice regarding the profession and information regarding the pros and cons of pursuing a career in this field.
Decide whether you should start a new career
Once you’ve researched career options available to you, decide whether you should start a new career. First, make sure you have thoroughly explored ways to make your current career more satisfying. For instance, moving to a different department within your company, taking professional development courses and/or getting a promotion may change the way you feel about your career. Second, after exploring your interests, you may also discover changing your career is not the best way to make your life more meaningful. Instead, you may decide to change your life outside of work, volunteer, turn a hobby into a part-time business or take classes to develop new skills.
On the other hand, you may decide it’s time to change careers. Perhaps you’re just not happy anymore working in your current field, and there’s no way to fix it. Or, you may be facing early retirement and you see this as an opportunity to move into a new career field. You’ve done your research, and you’re excited about the chance to put your talents and abilities to work in a new career.
For more information and resources, visit our Advice Center.