How to Switch Careers

You may be looking for job security, more satisfaction from using your natural skills, good pay and benefits, or at least terrific perks. Whatever is driving your persistent daydreams about starting over again in a new career, your transition will be easier with the pointers below!


Resolve to be careful with your finances during the transition. Have three months’ expenses tucked away before you take any action. Can you afford a decrease in yearly income? If not, you’ll need to narrow down your choices to make sure you’ll be able to continue to meet your expenses.

Know that your career change may take some time, and set realistic goals for accomplishing each step.

Prepare Those Around You

Help the people in your lives understand your new career exploration. Then, keep them updated on any concrete plans. Be discreet if you are staying in your old job.


Find the right book, audio file or video that will help you identify your own strengths. Shop around extensively in the vast library of information out there, but don’t miss What Color is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles. With 10 million copies sold, you know it’s a good bet! Use all the self-assessments in any career guidance materials you choose.

With the answers to the following basic but important questions, write out your plan.

  • When do I feel good – with people, machines or numbers?
  • What positive things do people say to me?
  • What jobs use these strengths of mine?

Use Local Resources

Take advantage of free career resources at your local community college or workforce development agency. Make a list of possible mentors and reach out to them.

Train for Your New Career

Research the training necessary in your new career, and then find the training programs. Apply or register for any necessary training programs. You might start by looking at your local community college for classes. In some cases, there might not be any local opportunities. Plan any commute or move carefully. You might also look for on-line learning opportunities.

Be prepared for your transition to take time. Some job training programs, such as nursing, are very popular, and you may find competition for admission to be fierce. If your new career will not require formalized training, set some goals for learning from people with experience in the field. You might try to have phone interviews with five people from your new field. Take careful notes on what you learn.

Keep Yourself Organized

Treat the process of finding and launching a new career like a job. Devote a block of time to it each day, uninterrupted, working at a desk. Some careers require a re-certification process. Keep all papers related to your career transition organized so you know when any deadlines are coming up and can always put your hands on your certificates, diplomas, transcripts and letters of recommendation.

Never Stop Learning

Supplement your education by using free webinars. These are easy to us, no matter your level of skill with a computer. They’ll make you more comfortable in your new field, so you’ll be confident in your first job interview. The professional association of your new field might make webinars available on their website, or at least point you toward good ones.

Also, make sure you take advantage of every opportunity to learn on the job or from training offered by your new employer.

Seek Out Support

You may have some trouble finding your first job, or you may be required to start in an entry-level job. This may be troublesome if you came from a position of authority in your previous career. Talk it out with someone supportive so you can stay positive!