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What to Consider When Making a Career Change

Do you feel satisfied with your current career? If you find that you are unhappy with your current job or career, you are not alone. The average American will change careers between three and five times in his or her lifetime.

While the process of changing careers can be a bit stressful, there are some steps that can be taken to ease the transition from one career to another. They include an evaluation of one’s current career, identification of reasons why the change is warranted, analysis of career options, and modifying one’s skills and education to meet the basic requirements for success in the new career of choice.

The first step to take in making a career change is to evaluate your current career situation to determine that a career change is in your best interest. If your dissatisfaction at work is fleeting or related to a short-term event or problem, a career change may be premature or unwarranted. In such cases, it is typically best to wait until after the short-term stress has passed to evaluate your level of career satisfaction. However, if your career dissatisfaction has been consistent and long-term, then a career change may indeed be in order.

Once you have confirmed that a career change is warranted, the next step is to identify the reasons behind your desire to change careers. Determining the factors that are contributing to your current career dissatisfaction will ultimately help to eliminate other possible career options that may share the same job characteristics. For instance, if a restaurant manager does not like frequently working until midnight, then it would be wise to remove from consideration any careers such as nursing or retail management that may involve evening shift-work.

Just as important as knowing the factors leading to career dissatisfaction is the identification of any enjoyable aspects of one’s current career. An awareness of the enjoyable aspects of a career will be helpful in narrowing the many career options that exist. For instance, if a dental office manager does not like the handling client billing and insurance issues but enjoys face to face interaction with patients, perhaps health care positions with more patient contact should be considered. In this case, viable career options may include medical assistant or dental hygienist.

After narrowing viable career options based upon your identification of the enjoyable and distasteful aspects of your current career, the next step is to consider the educational requirements and skills necessary to succeed in each identified career option in conjunction with your own level of education and training. Career transition is much smoother and easier to accomplish in cases in which a person’s level of education and training is a good match with the level of education and training typically required to flourish in that career. For instance, a doctor of psychology who wishes to cease clinical practice and become a college professor would have a smoother transition to professorship than a shipping manager with the same aspirations who lacks a college or graduate degree.

The final step in completing a career change is to complete any additional educational or training requirements necessary to be eligible for that career. For instance, the office manager who wishes to become a dental hygienist would have to enroll in an accredited dental hygiene program and complete any required supervised training prior to being eligible for hire as a dental hygienist. The shipping manager who aspires to be a college professor would have an even longer haul unless he is currently shipping packages with a masters or doctoral degree.

In sum, a career change should be undertaken with proper planning and thoughtful analysis of one’s current career situation. It is important to recognize enjoyable and distasteful aspects of one’s current career and to identify educational requirements and training necessary to perform duties associated with a new career.

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