What You Should Know About Changing Careers (Plus Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 20 January 2023

Published 31 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Changing careers can be a huge decision but also a rewarding one. People who change careers might increase their salary, job satisfaction or work-life balance. If you're considering changing careers, it's important to first consider carefully what you want from your next job or industry and what steps you'd need to take to achieve your new professional goals. In this article, we discuss why people change their careers, what you should know about changing careers and what some of the possible benefits are to a career change.

Why do people change careers?

People can change careers for a wide variety of reasons, including:

  • Increase their earning potential. Many people decide to change careers because they can receive a higher salary or boost their potential to earn more later in their career.

  • Raise their career satisfaction. Another common reason people change careers is because of their career satisfaction. A variety of factors can influence how happy you are with your career, including your enjoyment of your work and how much you feel that your individual contributions make a difference within the field.

  • Improve their relationships with management. Some people decide to change careers because they find it challenging to work with current leaders in their field or company. Other professionals may realise their work style might align better with a different industry's policies or culture.

  • Awareness that their priorities have shifted. Sometimes, your goals, priorities and desires might change over time.

  • Achieve work-life balance. Some people might look for a career change that enables them to have a better work-life balance. This work-life balance could mean looking for a new career with more flexible hours, less overtime or reduced stress levels.

What you should know about changing careers

Shifting into a different career can be a great choice for some people. However, even if switching careers is the best choice for you, this can cause some major changes to your professional and personal life. Before you decide to switch careers, it's crucial to consider various factors about both your current job and the role you hope to occupy in the future. Here is what you should know about changing careers:

Consider potential solutions to current issues

Think about why you want to change careers and if you could address those reasons by making changes within your current industry or company. For example, if you want to change careers to improve your work-life balance, think about if you could ask your current supervisor to make some adjustments for you, like giving you flexible hours. As another example, if you're thinking about a career change because of differences in work styles between you and your current supervisor, evaluate if changing teams or finding the same role at another company might meet your needs instead.

Related: How To Make a Career Change at 40

Figure out what you want from your next career

Know what you want and why you want it from your new career before you make the switch. Understanding your own career priorities can help you narrow down your job search and convey clearly to prospective employers why you're making this career switch. When evaluating your new career desires and goals, consider both what you enjoy about your current position and what you'd like to be different in your future role. Many factors can affect the best career change for you, including:

  • The specific job role

  • The industry or field

  • The company's policies, goals and culture

  • Your commute time

  • How often the role requires you to collaborate with others or work by yourself

  • The size of the company

  • Advancement opportunities within the company

  • The salary range

  • Career growth opportunities in the industry

  • The company's core values

Related: How to answer 'why are you looking for a new job?'

Assess the potential next steps

When determining what you should know about changing careers, it's crucial to figure out what steps you'd need to take to pursue your new career. Knowing what practical measures your career change would or might involve can help you figure out if the career change seems worthwhile.

Depending on the type of career switch you're hoping to make, changes to your professional and personal life might be minimal or more drastic. For example, if you want to get a career that's tangential to your current job, you might only need to change your CV or take a class to broaden your current skill set. However, if your desired career differs greatly from your current one, then your career change might involve more complex steps, such as earning a new degree or an entirely new set of skills.

Related: 9 career change questions for your interviews (with answers)

Evaluate your finances

Review your current financial situation. While some career changes can lead to a higher salary, many involve a significant decrease in your earnings, especially if you're relatively established in your current field. Figure out if you can afford to make less money at the start of your new career and for approximately how long.

Depending on your current and new careers, changing careers might also involve taking classes, earning certifications or getting a degree. Although sometimes you might have the option to continue working while attending classes or university, some career changes may require you to go to school full time. Evaluate these factors when assessing your financial situation.

Think about your best qualifications

Consider the skills, experiences and traits that you can offer to your future employer or industry. Even if you're planning a drastic career or field change, you may find that you already have many traits or transferrable skills that can make you a valuable job candidate. Transferrable skills refer to abilities that can benefit you in a variety of roles, such as communication, teamwork, flexibility or problem-solving skills. Determining the desirable skills and traits you already have can help you figure out what areas you might need to develop further and how to market yourself better to recruiters.

Try out your new career before you commit to it

Before you commit to switching jobs, see if you can find ways to experience or test out your new career. Strategies for sampling a potential new career could include:

  • Pursuing your new career as a hobby. Determine if you can sample some aspects of your new career before making the change. For example, if you want to become a web developer, you could try building websites or learning programming languages in your free time.

  • Taking a class. If your desired career change involves completing a certification or university programme, take one class before committing to an entire degree or diploma.

  • Networking with professionals in the industry or company you're interested in. Meet people in the field or at the company you want to work for. This might include going to industry events, attending company informational sessions or asking for professional introductions through your existing network.

  • Volunteering, job shadowing or interning. Find a volunteer, job shadow or internship position in your new industry. For example, if you're thinking about changing into a healthcare career, consider volunteering, shadowing or interning at a hospital or another medical facility.

Related: How To Change Careers

Benefits of changing careers

Although switching careers can present challenges, it can also be very rewarding. Here are some of the possible benefits to changing careers:

  • Make more of an impact. Some people want to change careers because they don't feel as if their contributions matter. Changing careers can help you find an employer or industry where you feel as if you're making a difference.

  • Feel happier with your job. A career switch can help you feel more content with, and less stressed about your work. If you enjoy your job, you may find it easier to appreciate the other aspects of your life, too.

  • Learn new skills. Changing careers can be a great opportunity to develop new abilities or learn about different fields. Learning new skills can not only be enjoyable but also broaden your professional and personal opportunities.

  • Raise your earning potential. A new career can help you generate more of an income or increase your job advancement opportunities.

  • Gain flexibility. When you change careers, you learn how to adapt to new people, challenges, environments and responsibilities. Flexibility is a skill that can help you professionally and personally.

Related: Resignation Letter Due To a Career Change: Tips and Examples

Tips for successfully changing your career

Here is some advice on how to change careers:

Research possibilities

Research your new career options. Educate yourself on your new industry, possible roles and potential employers. Knowing the various positions and options available to you in your new field can help you make the best choice for your needs and career goals.

Create a new CV or update your current one

If you're planning a drastic career change, create a new CV customised for the new career. If you're moving into a related career, you may only need to update your CV. Evaluate your current CV in relation to the job you want and try to determine what recruiters in your new industry might look for.

Related: How To Write a Career Change Cover Letter (With Examples)

Plan for your transition

Make a plan for your career change. The specifics of the transition plan may vary based on your current and new career but might include:

  • Figuring out a timeline and budget for earning certificates or degrees

  • Making time for a volunteer, internship or job shadow position

  • Trying to find a new job before leaving your current one

  • Giving your current supervisor sufficient notice

Related:

  • How to make a career change to teaching (plus skills)


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