Changing careers

It's much more common than generally realized for people to voluntarily decide to abandon their job and change careers. The reasons can be vastly different, but the common factor is that the career isn't what they want. They get nothing out of it, either financially, personally, or both.

Before you make any big decisions

The decision to change careers, inevitably, leaves people with a big decision: what to do next? That question is the big obstacle that can turn the whole process of changing careers from a considered personal decision into a real problem. Complicating the big decision is often the simple fact that the new career also has requirements for talent, experience and qualifications, and you could find you might need to start from scratch.

Try this approach to help organize and structure your forward planning.

The new career needs to be:

  • Realistically doable in terms of qualifications
  • Viable financially and costed thoroughly in advance
  • Able to be done in a reasonable time frame
  • Workable within the domestic commitments

That set of criteria will help define your choices effectively. The real obstacles to career change aren't the careers themselves. It's the environment in which the change is made.

Qualifications for your new career

It might take quite a few phone calls and a lot of research, but it's pretty simple to get a good overview of how to get the right qualifications, cost them, and set some reliable time frames.

Considerations here include:

  • Exemptions from prior studies
  • Course time options available from colleges
  • Short courses covering gaps in your related qualifications
  • A 'combination' approach to multiple study fields

It's really how you assemble and organize the elements of your qualifications that creates them, and opens up more opportunities.

Career track exploration

Simultaneous with your qualifications research, the other major element in changing careers is understanding your new job market, career paths and opportunities. You also need to start doing some quality control, setting goals for yourself at this point.

Job market

  • Check professional publications and websites, targeting your new career choice. Learn how the new career operates, and get some pointers from professionals, whenever possible.
  • Check job ads. See what qualifications are in demand, and study what's possible with your qualifications research above.
  • Study the industry and the related issues. Whether you're a biologist or a bricklayer, the industry is the defining element in any career.

Career tracks

  • You now have enough background knowledge to understand your new career paths and possibilities, and how to achieve them.


  • Do your research as a lateral thinking exercise. Working backwards, define your goals through the stages to get a clear picture of how the career track evolves.
  • Investigate any new angles that you might discover in career tracks. In many professions, the things to watch are the emerging trends.

Really, the only difficulty in starting a new career for yourself is making sure you're looking where you're going.