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How to Switch Careers

Making a big career change is never easy, especially if you have kids to support, a mortgage to pay, and a car to worry about. However, if you create a plan and stick to it, you may find that switching careers can lead you to have a more fulfilling and rewarding work experience. In order to successfully transition to a new career, you need to determine why you want a change and find something new based on your skills and passions. Then, you should plan out the logistics of changing careers by looking at your finances, networking, and training. Finally, you are ready to begin applying for new jobs and transitioning to your new career.

Method One of Four:
Picking a New Career Path

  1. 1
    Brainstorm what you are looking for in a new job. Perhaps you are not being challenged in your current role, or you are unhappy with the work life balance. Brainstorm what you want from your new job. For example, do you want to pursue something more creative? Or do you want to have more control over your life by starting your own business?[1]
    • Write down the most important things you want in your new job. This will help you start to think about new career options.
  2. 2
    List your skills and passions. One way to discover a new career path is by thinking about your skills and passions. Ask yourself the following questions: What am I good at? What do I most enjoy doing? What excites me? What are some of my skills?[2]
    • Write down a list of your skills and passions.
    • To help you discover your interests and passions, try taking an online career assessment test.
  3. 3
    Make a list of transferrable skills. You may be surprised to realize that some of the skills you developed in your current career will also be useful in your new career. Brainstorm any skills that you believe can transfer between careers. For instance, communication, leadership, planning, and bookkeeping skills will easily transfer between a number of different career options.[3]
  4. 4
    Research possible new career options. Now that you have a list of skills and passions, research ways that you could turn these into a new career. For example, perhaps one of your skills is teaching and one of your passions is web design. Perhaps you could consider a career in teaching web design at a local college.[4]
    • To help with the research process try using the U.S. Department of Labor skills matching service at

Method Two of Four:
Tackling the Logistics of a Career Change

  1. 1
    Consider your financial situation. In most cases, switching careers will come with a decrease in pay. This is because you may need to start near the bottom of the corporate ladder in your new career. Make sure that you can afford to take a pay cut. In some cases, you may be able to depend on family to help out financially during your career transition.[5]
    • If finances are a major concern for you, try and stay at your current job until you are making enough money at your new career.
    • Alternatively, you may be able to supplement your income in other ways. Make small investments or take on a part time job to make up for the deficit.
    • As a general rule you should save enough money to cover three to six months worth of expenses.
  2. 2
    Determine if you will need more education. Depending on your career change, you may need to update your skills and knowledge through education. For example, if you want to become a nurse, you will likely need to go back to school and take a nursing program.[6]
    • Start by taking a course of two in your new field to see if you enjoy the work. You do not want to invest the time and money on a completely new degree only to find that you don’t enjoy the work.
  3. 3
    Try taking classes. Start taking evening, weekend, or online classes while you're still at your current job. This way you will continue to make money while beginning the process of changing careers. If the course you need overlaps with your current role, you may be able to get your current employer to pay for your education.[7]

Method Three of Four:
Creating Connections in Your New Field

  1. 1
    Build a network in your new field. Reach out to people in your desired field in order to talk with them and make connections. You can do this by following people on social media sites, such as LinkedIn. Message them from time-to-time and explain your situation and ask for advice. Always give your contact information so that they can reach out to you in the future.[8]
    • Creating a network is useful because these individuals may be able to help you find a job, provide advice and information, and connect you with other people in the industry.
    • Make an effort to meet people in person, rather than just talking to them on the phone or online.
    • Share your own expertise and advice while networking.
  2. 2
    Conduct informational interviews. Informational interviews consist of conversations with people who currently work in your desired field. They give you an opportunity to ask honest questions about the job, industry, work-life-balance, etc. and will help you decide if this career is actually the right fit for you. Some questions to consider include:[9]
    • What do you like most about your job?
    • What do you like the least about your job?
    • What does a typical day look like for you?
    • Are there any major trends in the industry that I should know about?
    • How did you begin your career in this field?
    • What are common entry level jobs?
    • What kind of education or training does this field require?
    • What advice would you give to someone considering this field?
  3. 3
    Volunteer in your new field. This will allow you to gain invaluable experience working in your new field. This is also a way for you to test out the field without quitting your current job. For example, if you want to switch to a career in construction, you could volunteer for Habitat for Humanity on the weekends.[10]
    • Alternatively, you could help out with home renovations for friends to see if you really enjoy the work and the lifestyle.

Method Four of Four:
Starting Your New Career

  1. 1
    Update your resume. You may not have updated your resume for a long time. Spend time updating your resume and make sure that you highlight the transferable skills and education that is relevant to your new career.[11]
    • If you are struggling to create a dynamic resume, you can hire a career counsellor to help you construct an effective resume that is geared towards a job in your desired field.
  2. 2
    Apply for new jobs. Search online job boards for positions within your desired field. Apply to as many jobs as possible. You should even apply for those that you don’t have all the qualifications for. If there is a position that seems too good to be true and above and beyond what you are qualified for, apply anyway. There is little to lose and you might be exactly what the firm is looking for.
  3. 3
    Practice your interviewing skills. It may have been years since you were last interviewed for a new job. In order to be successful in an interview, you should thoroughly research the company. This way you will appear knowledgeable about both the job and company goals and objectives. You should also practice some interview questions with a friend or family member. This will give you an opportunity to speak out loud and determine exactly how you will answer potential questions.[12]
    • During the interview make sure you draw connections between your past work experience and your new career. For instance, you may actually have years worth of experience in management, just in a different field.
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Method 1 Quiz

What questions should you ask yourself when deciding on a new career path?

Close! This question is important because it will put your on a realistic path toward your next job. Making a list of your skills can certainly point you in the right direction. Still, if you're on a new career path, there are other things to ask as well. Click on another answer to find the right one...

Almost! Of course, if you're on the hunt for a new career, you'll want to pick something that you actually like! Asking yourself about passions and hobbies is a great way to direct your focus, but there are other things to consider as well. There’s a better option out there!

Try again! Making a list of your skills, either ones you developed in your past job or outside of it, will help you to make realistic moves in your career path. It will also give you elements for your resume to take those next important steps. But that's not all to consider! Choose another answer!

Absolutely! If you're making a big career change, it's important to take a step back and answer some questions about what you see for your future. If your new career fulfills your passions and works your skills, you will be much happier! Read on for another quiz question.

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Method 2 Quiz

How much money should you have saved before quitting your old job for a new path?

Nope! A year of expenses is a lot of money to have saved up. If you can manage to put that away, great for you! There are a lot of variables in finding a new career and it might take longer than you expect. Still, you don't have to wait quite that long to get started. Pick another answer!

Try again! If your new career path requires you to go back to school, you're going to need to take the cost of education and loss of working hours into account. This should be added into your expenses, but does not represent all that you should have saved. Try again...

Nice! Before you decide to leave your current position, you'll want to make sure that you have contingency money, in case your new career doesn't take off right away. It may take a while for you to save this all up, but it will be worth it. Read on for another quiz question.

Not necessarily. If you and your spouse agree that it's a good step, and that they are capable of supporting you and the household in the interim, that is fine! Still, there's alway the chance you'll have a big, unexpected expense, like medical bill or house repair, so it doesn't hurt to have some money saved up from your previous job. Choose another answer!

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Method 3 Quiz

Before getting a job, how can you determine if a career path is right for you?

That's right! Conducting conversational interviews with professionals working in the industry is a great way to find out if it's a good fit for you. Ask them honest questions about the average hours they work weekly, if they are fulfilled, and what their least favorite part of the job is. The more information you have in advance, the more prepared you are to make a life-changing decision. Read on for another quiz question.

Not necessarily! Following the industry's news is a great way to know that you are passionate about a subject or field. Still, there's a big difference between sitting on the outside looking in and knowing the real deal. Get closer to the industry you are considering to determine if it's a good fit. Click on another answer to find the right one...

Nope! Many career paths take years, if not decades to follow. If you're interested in becoming a doctor, you'll want to do some research before committing to 11 years of school. Consider the other ways you might learn about the field. Try again...

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Method 4 Quiz

True or False: You should not apply for any jobs for which you do not have all the qualifications.

Nope! Many job postings are filled with a long list of requests because the company wants to cover their bases. If a job appeals to you and you are partially qualified, give it a shot! It might be that your personality or other skills push you to the top of the list, and you can learn the rest on the job. Pick another answer!

That's right! Just because you don't meet all of a job's qualifications, doesn't mean you should pass up what could be a great opportunity. Of course, be realistic, but optimistic too! Apply for many jobs, including the ones that you feel are out of your league. Read on for another quiz question.

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • How can I become motivated to learn the skills needed for a new job?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Find something you are interested in learning more about, something you enjoy, or something helping others. Think about what you could achieve on a decent income and be inspired by the goals you have for your life.
    Thanks! 8 3
  • I am currently working in an Exchange house but I want to move from here to on shore / offshore drilling logistics job. I have 6 months of experience in this field. How do I make the transition?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Begin applying to jobs in your desired field. Make sure you clearly highlight your direct work experience in onshore/offshore drilling logistics. You also want to consider if there are any transferrable skills from your current job at the Exchange house.
    Thanks! 2 0
  • I did my ITI what business should I start?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Consider the skills you learned throughout your training and choose something that you enjoy doing. You may want to start by taking on a job in the field before you start your own business. This way you will get a better understanding of trends within the field and what types of businesses are expanding.
    Thanks! 2 0
  • How to keep spirit to do work even during a period of depression?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • If you are feeling depressed, you may find it difficult to motivate yourself to get out of bed and go to work. If this is the case, you should seek help from a therapist or counsellor.
    Thanks! 4 3
  • What if I can't afford to retrain, but would be legally required to do so for even an entry-level position? Do I just consign myself to a life of drudgery and hope I trip over $50K?
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  • Having a spouse or partner with a steady job makes switching careers a lot easier, but is by no means necessary.
    4 Helpful?  0
  • If you are unhappy in your current position, consider shifting roles within your workplace rather than changing careers entirely.
    4 Helpful?  2


  • Consider your present career and the amount of time you need to retire. It may be better to stick with the job you have, retire a bit early, then take up something more rewarding. Bailing out early when you have a good retirement plan may compromise some of your other goals.
    28 Helpful?  19
  • Changing careers can take a significant amount of time, depending on how drastic of a transition you are making. Do not expect to change careers overnight. You need to invest time and effort into finding a new career that is right for you.[13]
    4 Helpful?  1

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Reader Success Stories

  • A


    Jan 23, 2017

    "Helped me to think of my passions and skills that I have, and think of things that make me happy and keep me going."
  • A


    Jan 1, 2017

    "Directly relates to my situation in transforming my career to meet a goal of happiness and financial security!"
  • EP

    Evey Perez

    Mar 13, 2017

    "The overall step by step breakdown of how to map out how to plan/make the transition helped!"
  • AK

    Abdulai Kamara

    Apr 26, 2016

    "It helps me gather my ideas. My goal is to do in this world what makes me feel happier."
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