Do You Need to Go to School to Change Careers?

Nancy Anderson
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You deserve to be happy in your professional life, which is why changing careers is both a labor of love and a challenge. Part if this challenge is figuring out if you need go to back to school. Take these aspects into consideration if you believe furthering your education might be the way to go.

Figure Out Why

Before changing careers, take time to determine why you want to make this move. Perhaps you feel as if you've reached your peak in your present career or cannot grow in your present position. Maybe you just need to use your skills and expertise in a different way. For example, scientists and engineers who retire from the private sector may choose to become teachers or college professors in the math or science fields. Earning a teaching certification may require going back to college.

Changing careers is also common for those who are trying to find their passion. If this is your situation, look for a profession that offers growth potential and allows you to tap into your passion. Perhaps you worked in PR for 20 years and you have keen industry insights. Instead of completely getting out of PR, you want to run your own firm. You might consider going back to school to take business classes since you already have the necessary PR skills.

Remember That You're Starting Over

Changing careers usually means you are starting over. Therefore, you might have to begin in an entry level position or accept a lower salary than you're used to earning. Keep this in mind when you mull your new path to professional bliss, and do your homework regarding your growth potential in your new field to determine if the sacrifice of going back to school is worth the effort.

Transferable Skills

When changing careers, some of your skills will transfer well into your new path. If you have great presentation skills, you already know how to communicate well to a group. That's a key skill when it comes to teaching students. Technical, communication, organization and leadership skills are useful in any career field.


Once you decide to go to school, commit to it wholeheartedly with realistic expectations. Devote between 15 to 20 hours per week to your studies. Determine if you can balance the finances and maintain a certain level of income if returning to school. This is where the type of schooling comes into play. Perhaps online-only courses are the way to go. Maybe you only need a certification rather than a four-year degree, which may reduce the amount of time needed to achieve your new career goal.

Changing careers is worth it if it means finding career bliss. Have you ever made a major change in your career?

Photo courtesy of Sira Anamwong at


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