How to change your career

6 September 2021

a new employee unpacking a box of personal belongings in the office

For many people, the prospect of changing careers can be daunting. From thoughts of going back to education or taking training courses in your spare time to the temporary disruption switching jobs could have on your wider life, there are always reasons not to go through with a career change, even when you know it would be for the best long-term. However, no matter how old you are or what the economy is looking like, when properly thought-out and planned, a change of career could be the most rewarding thing you ever do. 

Here at Simply Academy, this got us thinking – just how do you go about changing careers? Can you do this without going back into education or without a degree, for example? And can you find a new career without losing money? In this blog we’ll answer all of these questions and more. 

How to manage a career change

If you’re seriously considering a change of career, knowing how to successfully manage the change is essential. After all, your career is a big part of your life, and a sudden change of tack can impact other areas of your life, including your family and personal life. To help ensure a smooth transition, try following these five steps:

  • Assess you current skills

If you have decided the time is right for a career change, the first thing you need to do is take a personal inventory of your existing skills, qualifications and experience. Simply write down every skill you believe has contributed to your past successes and think about how these skills could be applied to future roles you may be interested in. Eventually, this can form the basis of your new CV.

  • Choose an industry you’d like to work in

If the reason you are looking to start a new career is simply because you don’t like your current one, the chances are you will want to look into jobs in completely new industries. The best way to do this is simply to look over your assessment of skills, qualifications and experience (completed in step one), and use it to decide what types of careers and industries best suit your skills, wants and needs. 

For example, if you currently work as a Digital PR Executive for a digital marketing agency, you could use your skills and experience from being in this role to secure a new career in a range of industries from written and broadcast media, to corporate PR, to community relations. While you do not have to be limited by your past experience and skills, choosing a new industry in which your existing skills can be transferred makes a career change much easier.  

  • Research job matches in your chosen industry

When you’ve managed to narrow your career shift down to a few industries, your next task is to research potential job opportunities. Contact people in the field you are interested in, ask lots of questions, and make sure to do as much research as possible.

During this stage, you could even use your personal network of contacts, both professional and personal, that you have built up over the years. Whether you’re reaching out to an old school friend working in the industry you would like to enter or a former boss you are contacting for a reference, you never know where an opportunity may arise. You could even actively seek out volunteering or internship opportunities at this stage. This not only shows willingness to progress in a new industry, it can also provide you with priceless experience. 

  • Consider educational courses

The penultimate stage of managing a career change involves education. If you want to  move into a field that requires a specialist degree or other qualification, for example, you may need to seek additional higher education courses before you apply. Whether you go to college, evening classes, university or complete an online qualification, make sure you know which qualifications are most relevant to the type of career you want. 

  • Start applying!

Finally, once you have chosen the industry you want to work in, the type of role you want, and you have the necessary skills to start on this career path, all that’s left to do is start applying for roles that you’re interested in. 

How to change careers without going back to school

As we have discussed above, when managing a change of career, there is not always the need to go back into education. For many career transitions, the skills and experience you already have, as well as any existing qualifications, are enough.

While it is true that, if you are considering moving into an industry or role that requires a degree or other specific qualification, you may need to enroll in a programme of higher education, this does not necessarily mean you will have to go back to a formal school or college setting. As already touched upon, many relevant courses can now be completed online from the comfort of your own home, for example.

How to change careers without a degree

Similarly, a degree is not always necessary when undertaking a career change. While a university degree will always be an extra feather in your cap, they are certainly not essential for all career changes. In fact, in many cases, relevant or transferable skills and experience picked up during your professional life could be more valuable in the eyes of an employer than a new degree. Additionally, instead of going back to university to complete a degree, many relevant qualifications – including everything from accountancy and mortgage advice to coding and software design – can now be attained informally via professional online courses and evening classes. 

How to change careers without losing money

The thought of switching careers can be a daunting one, especially if you think that the knock-on financial effects of the change may negatively impact your family. However, if you prepare for your change and manage the transitions properly (using the steps outlined above), there are ways you can make the move without taking a huge pay cut. To give yourself the best chance of changing careers without losing money, it’s important to remember to:

  • Focus on careers in which your existing skills can be transferred 
  • Fill in any skills gaps with additional education and qualifications 
  • Use professional and personal connections to network and get your foot in the door
  • Reduce your personal expenses and start saving ahead of the switch, if possible
  • Be realistic when choosing a new career path and applying for new roles

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