Switching Careers? Consider Going to Community College
There comes a point in every person’s life where you just feel ready for a change. Perhaps you’ve been a stay-at-home parent for the past few years or maybe you’ve been working the same job since you graduated high school. No matter what your current situation, it is normal to wonder if there might be something better out there for you.
Unfortunately, suddenly picking up and changing your life isn’t as easy as you might like – especially if you are considering a career change. With the cost of college tuition rising steadily, more college graduates enter the workforce each year with limited work experience and low wage expectations. In many fields, it’s impossible to get a job unless you have a degree but, even so, that degree may not be worth much.
This video by Linda Raynier offers four tips for a successful career change.
So, what do you do if you want to change careers in the middle of your life and you don’t have the knowledge or experience to do it on your own? Consider going to community college. Many community colleges offer prerequisite classes that can prepare you to transfer to a traditional school if you have a particular career path in mind, or you can enter a vocational training program. Either way, choosing community college will save you some money and put you on the path to your new future. Keep reading to learn more.
Thinking of Changing Careers? You’re Not Alone!
Hundreds of years ago you would have been considered old at the age of 30. Today, however, people are living well into their eighties and nineties – that’s a long time to remain at the same job, or even in the same field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person changes jobs ten to fifteen times over the course of their career.
This average varies a little bit depending on certain factors such as generation. For example, people born between 1957 and 1964 held an average of 12 jobs between the ages of 18 and 48 while people born in the 1960s through 1980s only had two job changes by the time they reached age 32. The statistics showed that men changed jobs slightly more often than women, though women held nearly as many jobs as men despite taking more time off for child-rearing.
There are a number of reasons why people report changing jobs – here are some of the most common:
- Higher salary
- Relocating to another area
- Switching to a less stressful job
- Career advancement
- Leaving a negative or incompetent boss
- Changing career focus
- Improving work-life balance
- Laid off due to merger/acquisition
- More interesting job
- Lack of recognition for accomplishments
- Company moved
- Better alignment with priorities and values
- Skills or abilities weren’t a fit
Switching to a new job is difficult enough, so the process of changing careers entirely can be even more challenging. If you want to change careers and you need some extra education to do it, consider community college as an option – keep reading to learn more.
Benefits of Community College for Switching Careers
Community college is great for a number of reasons, but it is particularly appealing to non-traditional students. The term “non-traditional student” generally refers to adults who are going back to school, including adults who are changing career paths. Community college is particularly appealing to non-traditional students because it is more affordable and there are more options for flexibility. Many non-traditional students work full-time or care for their family while attending school, so they often need to take classes at night or online.
Another potential benefit of community college for someone looking to switch careers is the fact that many schools offer certifications or training programs in addition to both two-year and four-year degrees. If you are looking to change jobs within the same field of work, you may only need to take a few classes or update a certification – going to community college can save you a lot of time and money. You also have the ability to customize your education, taking only the classes you really need instead of wasting credits on orientation classes and general education.
Dos and Don’ts for Changing Careers
If you’re considering a career change and you think that community college might be the next step, take a moment to think about your plan before you jump in. Changing careers is not something you want to do on a whim, especially if it means pursuing higher education. You’ll need to make sure that you are able to support yourself and your family while you go back to school and you should have a plan lined up for what you will do after you complete your education. To make sure things go according to plan, here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind:
- DO take a self-assessment. Before you do anything drastic like changing careers, you should take a self-assessment to see whether it’s really the right choice for you. You can find assessments online (many community colleges offer them for free on their websites) and it may help you gauge your marketable skills as well as your interests to see whether that particular career or school might be a good fit.
- DON’T get hung up on salary estimates. One of the biggest motivating factors for changing careers is an increase in salary. This is by no means a bad reason for switching careers, but it shouldn’t be your only reason – don’t pick a career based on salary alone. If you’ve already chosen a career and you want to get an idea what your salary might look like, don’t get too hung up on the estimates – they are only intended to give you a general idea.
- DO consider all of your needs outside of income. As a non-traditional student, you have an entire life outside of school to maintain so, when planning your career change, consider how you’ll maintain that life while adding the challenge of going to school. Think about all of your needs outside of income alone.
- DON’T underestimate the cost of education. Though community college is a much more affordable option than most traditional schools, it can still be expensive. Don’t forget to factor in costs like fees, books, and supplies.
- DO ask about transferring credits. Some schools will accept credits from a prior education or they might factor in your job experience as some form of school credit. It never hurts to ask.
This video offers 5 tips from a career advisor at the Harvard Extension.
You’re probably familiar with the saying that life is what you make it. When it comes to your job and your career, that is definitely true. While you may not feel like you have a lot of control over your job or the work you do, you have a choice in which career path you choose to follow – you can also choose to change that path if it no longer satisfies you. If you’re thinking about switching careers and you need some extra education to get there, consider going to community college.
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