Changing Careers - Questions You Need to Ask Yourself
Americans will change jobs at least 8-10 times in their lifetime. But even more daunting than a new job is a new career, which statisticians believe will occur about 4 times in one's lifetime. The reason for a career change varies, but for most people it is usually a result of not being satisfied in their career or they are ready for a new challenge. Performing research and being prepared for this new career search is necessary for a smooth transition, since experts' estimate it takes 2-6 years to complete the career move. Here are 5 questions to ponder before making a career change:
- 1. Is this career right for me? Since you'll be investing a lot of time, effort, and resources into your career transition, you'll want to be at least 90% confident in your final decision that your new career is a good fit. Fortunately there are some excellent aides that can help you narrow down your choices. Career assessment tests, such as Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, can help generate a snapshot of your personality and show which careers would best suit you.
- 2. Will it pay enough? This age-old question was probably not as important to you fresh out of college (I just want to do something that makes me happy, Dad!), but if you are older and have a family your account balance can affect your quality of life. The minimum wage may not be adequate to support your needs, and finding a job that pays better has trumped happiness to become top priority.
- 3. What is the career outlook for this job? For this, you'll need only one source: the Bureau of Labor Statistic's most recent Occupational Outlook Handbook, an in-depth analysis of hundreds of jobs. The Handbook describes the current training and education needed for a job, earnings, job prospects, job duties, and working conditions. You'll want to pay close attention to job prospects, or how much this job is expected to grow over the next few years. Jobs in IT, healthcare, and research typically show big potential and growth, while others, such as manufacturing, construction, and jobs in print, have slowed dramatically.
- 4. Do I need more education? The days of being able to drop out of high school and score a high-paying job based solely on your ambition (or lack thereof) are gone. Many jobs now require at least a Bachelor's Degree, if not more. Other jobs, such as teaching, require certifications and even Master's degrees and PhDs. Positions in medicine require one to be licensed in the state that they live in order to work. All of these achievements require more education. You'll have to determine how much more education you'll need and then decide whether you have the time and money to go back to school. Online education is a viable option for many who can't attend in person due to time constraints.
- 5. Are my expectations realistic? After evaluating salary, career outlook, education options, and viability, you'll need to tackle this important consideration. In your final evaluation, you should factor in things such as extended unemployment if you should not be able to find a job in your ideal industry, lower salary due to the economy, and whether it's you that needs to change, not just the workplace. Do you expect to get out of school and immediately find a job, or have you allotted several weeks for the job search? Are you prepared to leave the familiarity of your old job behind for a completely new environment? Make sure you have fully-adjusted to the idea of a career change before jumping in. And remember, everyone gets cold feet.
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