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25Sep
September 25th, 2012,
continuing education

By Noël Rozny
Web Editor & Content Manager

It’s a trend we’ve seen since the recession started: established career professionals who, due to layoffs, pay cuts, increased workloads or general dissatisfaction, have decided to do a complete career 360, leave what they know, and jump headfirst into a brand new industry.

For some, this means reinventing themselves as entrepreneurs and starting their own companies. For others, it means seeking out a new career field that offers more job security. For almost all, continuing education is the way to get the skills and experience they need to successfully make the transition.

If you’ve been toying with idea of a career change but are feeling a little unsure about it, going back to school can be a great place to start. Whether you decide to take a two-day seminar, enroll in a certification course, or pursue a graduate degree, any amount of additional learning can make the switch easier (and increase your chances of finding a job once you start looking.)

Here are a few other reasons why continuing education is a good option if you’re considering a career change.

You Can’t Afford to Intern

When you were brand new to your career, you probably took an internship to gain the necessary skills and industry know-how. And I’m guessing you either weren’t paid or if you were, you were only minimally compensated. That was fine at the beginning of your career, but now you may have a family, a mortgage, and other financial responsibilities. So point blank: You can’t afford to take an internship (or other entry-level) position to learn the ropes. You need to enter at a higher level, and continuing education is one way to get the skills and experience to do so.

You Need Industry Contacts

Taking a few classes or enrolling in a diploma program is a great way to not only learn skills, but to start building contacts in the industry. When I was in college, for example, I had a chance to work in my university’s business school. At every single event, students were networking like their lives depended on it. And it paid off too—I watched as many formed business partnerships and synergies that lead to professional relationships after graduation. And it’s not just about getting to know your classmates: professors, event speakers and administrators are all people who know your new field, have contacts, and can help provide the resources you need to get started.

You May Have No Choice

Depending on what career you want to enter, you may have to go back to school and become certified. Some of today’s most popular career choices, such as nursing and physical therapy, offer great job growth and stability, but they also require very specific college degrees and professional certifications.

If you’re making a career change into a field that requires a specific degree or type of training, don’t worry. Some of your previous college credits may count, meaning you may only need to be in school for two years instead of another four.

The thought of going back to school may seem a little daunting, but remember: you’ve got many more options than you did when you were an undergraduate. You can take a quick certification course, opt of online courses, or spread your degree out over several years. Whatever you decide to do, it’s up to you and how fast you want to enter your new career.

Did continuing education help you make a career change? Let us know in the comments below!