People change, interests wane, and entire industries can shift, which are a few of the reasons why it is becoming increasingly common for professionals to change careers after years of having worked in a particular field. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that up to 17 percent of American adults change careers 15 or more times during their lifetime, often moving into new fields or industries in the process.
Transitioning from one career to another can be an exciting endeavor, but it also comes with its own sets of challenges, as well. Whether you already know the specific industry you are planning to enter, or you are just beginning to seek out information on where to go from your current position, we have put together a few tips on the best ways to transition into a new career.
Meet with a career counselor. Whether you need help narrowing down your choices or finding something that interests you at all, meeting with a career counselor is a great place to start on the path to changing careers. Not only can a professional counselor give you pointers on what to expect—or not expect—from any different jobs, but he or she can also lead you on a path to discovering your inner passions and translating those passions to the working world. Any money you spend on a career counselor will be well worth it once you have figured out once and for all what it is you are meant to do.
Do research online. The Internet provides a wealth of information for job seekers, not just on available positions but also about what is required to attain them. From glossaries that define industry-specific terms to complete guides that detail what it takes to get involved in a particular profession, there is no limit to what you can discover online by doing a little research.
Go back to school. Returning to school and taking college courses is one of the fastest ways to prepare yourself for a career in a new industry or field. Even if you do not have the time or financial resources to obtain an additional degree, such as an MBA or Ph.D., that does not mean you have to give up schooling altogether. Instead, check out a few continuing education courses at your local community college or undergraduate campus. Not only are these courses often cheaper to take than those that are required for an advanced degree, but many colleges offer career-specific classes intended to provide training for those entering a new occupation.
Gain experience in the new field. Internships are not just for high school or college students anymore. If you are interested in transitioning into a career in which you have no previous experience, it may very well be worth taking the time to spend a few months as an unpaid intern working in the industry. Not only can you expect to learn a lot from the experience, but you will most likely be making valuable connections with other professionals, as well.
Attend networking events. Professional networking events are a great way to make connections and gain valuable insight into what is really involved in a specific career. It is a myth that you have to already be working in a certain industry in order to attend these events, as many are open to anyone who interested in stopping by. By attending networking events that are put on by trade groups or professional associations, you can expect to make valuable contacts from within the industry who might be able to give you information on job leads and openings at the companies they work for.