Guest Author - Susan D. Bates
Changing careers at midlife is a big decision. It can involve investments, life changes, and financial risks. This is especially true if you have a family that depends on your current income. If changing careers means you will have to return to college for a new degree, the career-change investment will be even greater.
In some cases, changing careers will require a new college degree. However, that is not always the case. If your intended career does not require a new degree, the transition may be less risky.
One way to determine if your career change will require a new degree is to ask professionals who are working in your intended career field. Complete an informational interview to learn about the minimum qualifications required for your intended career.
Below is a list of ways you can demonstrate your ability to perform the skills necessary skills to be successful in the new career field:
Selling Existing Skills
Many skills are transferable between career fields. You may already have the basic skills needed to perform the tasks of your new career. A well-crafted resume and persuasive cover letter may show employers how your previous education and experience will qualify you to complete the tasks of the new career.
Related Volunteer Work
Volunteering your time in the new career field can be a great way to discover what it is like to work in the field while acquiring new skills. In addition to giving you a new experience to include on your resume, volunteering in the career field can allow you to make valuable networking contacts that may help you find employment in your new career field.
Get a Related Professional Certification
Some career fields have certifications that demonstrate your ability to perform the tasks of the field. Requirements vary greatly among professional certifications. While many certifications have prerequisites that a career changer may have difficulty meeting, such as related education or experience in the field, this is not always the case. A relevant certification may make an employer more likely to take a chance on you.
Take Related Courses
While returning to college for a new degree may cause a financial burden for you and your family, taking a few related courses may not. One or two courses could be taken in the evening or online while you continue to work in your current career field. These courses may give you enough of a background to break into a new career field without leaving your current field before you are ready.
Complete a Certificate Program Some schools offer college-level certificate programs for particular career fields. These types of certificate programs are not degrees, but they do require college coursework. Certificate programs typically require fewer courses than degree programs, therefore the investment often does not require as much time or money as completing a degree.
Changing careers at midlife can be a scary prospect. However, it can also be very rewarding. Use the suggestions above to ease your transition into a new field.