How to Change Careers: A Step-by-Step Guide


Changing careers is a big step, but one that many people take at some point.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve graduated from college and want to switch to a different subject, or you’ve been working for several decades and want to start something new: you need to know how to make a career change step-by-step.

Why may you need to change careers?

There are many different reasons why you might consider starting a new career path. Keep in mind that many people will change careers at some point, especially in the recent past.

According to some statistics 53% of Americans will quit their job to make a career change in 2022 alone.

Why? You might be thinking about changing your career because:

  • You are no longer challenged professionally. Many people like to feel that as a company they have had a significant impact on their industry. They can get bored and look for opportunities elsewhere if they don’t have enough challenges.
  • You are looking for something better corporate culture fit. A common reason people choose to switch to new roles at other companies is a poor culture fit. For example, if your current position has a work-life balance that causes you to neglect your personal relationships in favor of your professional life, you may leave the company or even the industry.
  • You need to earn more money. Sometimes you decide on a particular career path expecting it to be lucrative, but then realize the pay isn’t competitive. A career change could help you make more money in the long run if you move into the right field.
  • You realize that your dream lies elsewhere. Many start their studies without knowing exactly what they want to do. When they graduate, they realize they want to do something completely different. Don’t think like that if this is you because there is still time to change your career and pursue your dreams.
  • You have to move or have other family reasons. In certain circumstances, you may be forced to change your career because you have to relocate and your current job or profession is not needed in your future destination.

Career changers like you often transition to (or from) part-time or full-time jobs in industries like healthcare, finance, and IT. These career options will help you pursue a higher salary or achieve greater job satisfaction.

Related: How to deal with professional regrets – even if you are a “success story”.

How to change careers step by step

In fact, you can change your career and ensure you make the right move into a new job by planning ahead and following these steps.

1. Think about your goals and interests

First, you need to have a good understanding of your general goals and interests. If you’re making a career change because you’re pursuing a new dream or want to advance your career, you should know exactly what your goals are.

Do you want to completely change your industry? If so, you may need to return to school and earn another degree. Do you want to achieve something on a personal level? Do you want to earn more money?

These questions can help you narrow down exactly what your career change will look like and which jobs you should aim for.

More importantly, by thinking about your goals and interests, you can develop a plan of action. With a good plan of action, you’ll carefully and gradually change your career and avoid destabilizing or jeopardizing your finances or family.

If you don’t know your career goals, you should consider speaking to a career coach. A career advisor can help you determine the ideal career move based on your current career or day job and your transferable skills.

These mentors are constantly helping job seekers with their job search and you can find them online on LinkedIn or in your professional network.

2. Check your current skills

Next, you should review your current skills, including your qualifications, personal skills, certifications, and degrees.

For example, if you have previously worked in finance, you have good reason to assume that you have knowledge of mathematics, statistics and financial analysis. Of course, you can substantiate these skills with certificates or degrees.

As you review your skills, you will know the following:

  • Which jobs will it be easier to switch to? For example, if you already have a career in finance, it might be easier to tailor your career to be more business-focused than you think, as the skill surplus is likely to be relatively high.
  • What kind of education or training do you need to go through to transition your career to something else? For example, if you want to be a physicist but are currently an English teacher, you know that you don’t have many cross-cutting skills and need extensive schooling to change careers.

There is no right or wrong answer here. But when you add up your skills, you can make the best decision.

3. Find out about training and education opportunities

Then, depending on your goals and the profession you want to get into, you should explore different training and education options. For example, if you want to be a statistician, you probably need a degree in statistics, finance, or mathematics.

Some career changes are easier than others. Those who require high degrees, such as a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree, will take longer to transition than others.

But don’t let that put you off. If you want to achieve something and make a career change to a new field, then go for it.

4. Create an action plan

An action plan is a step-by-step outline of what you need to do to complete your career transition. Suppose you want to move from marketing to finance.

In this case you must do the following:

  • Go back to school and get a finance degree, or at least take some classes
  • Complete a certificate program in finance
  • Apply to finance jobs and internship opportunities

Writing down an action plan can help keep you motivated as you transition careers. A career change can take several years from start to finish. With an action plan, you can tick off each step as you make progress.

Related: Change of career: Start a new career at 30

5. Acquire skills and qualifications

Now is the time to get down to business and do the core work of a career change. Gain the necessary skills and qualifications to change industries or areas of expertise.

This may include attending college, training programs or boot camps, and completing certificate programs.

6. Rebrand yourself

It’s also a good idea to rebrand yourself at this stage. This means highlighting on your social media platforms that you are changing jobs and industries. Change your resume and social media profiles to reflect your new area of ​​expertise and industry knowledge.

Rebranding early will make it easier for you to network with professionals in your new field and qualify for future job opportunities.

7. Try freelance gigs, internships, and volunteering

In the early stages of your career change, there’s a good chance you won’t qualify for many open positions. To gain experience and network, consider applying for freelance jobs, internships, and volunteer work with companies in your future industry.

This will give you valuable practical work experience that you can use and open up new opportunities for you.

Additionally, freelance gigs and internships allow you to try out your new job or career before fully committing to it. This can be invaluable when you’re not 100% sure you want to move into one position or another.

8. Apply for new jobs

Once you have gained enough experience and the necessary skills and qualifications to be successful, apply for new jobs.

As in your previous industry, you may need to start with entry-level jobs before you can advance to higher positions or leadership positions in your next career. But with the right mindset and commitment, you’ll rise relatively quickly in your new industry.

Related: Career Transitions You Can Make in Your 40’s and 50’s

How to change your career

Now you know exactly how to make the career change smart and successful. Follow the tips and strategies above and your new job hunt will be smoother than you think.

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