Ten years ago, Perla Beltran, of the Regions Next Step Project*, helped her husband, Eddie, get his granite business off the ground and has handled much of the company’s administrative responsibilities since then, but it’s not her passion. So she took a major step towards a career change and enrolled in pharmacy school.
“My goal is to graduate from pharmacy school and open up my own business in the pharmacy field,” she says. “I’m very excited for what’s next.”
But changing careers isn’t easy.
“It takes time, and most people are truly afraid of change,” says Daisy Swan, Career Coach and Strategist. “It can be a scary time if you don’t have a plan.”
So if you’ve lost that spark for your current career and feel pulled in another direction, what’s the first step?
Choosing Your Next Career
Make sure you understand what you’re getting into with a new career. Talk to people who are currently in your field of choice, and get a reality check: What is their work like, what helps them succeed, what are the biggest challenges, how do your expectations fit with the real pros and cons of that job?
Next, find out what’s required of you to enter that career: Do you need a certain degree? Do you need additional training? Are there any tests or prerequisites? Do you need additional experience?
Going Back to School
Depending on the school and program, tuition can cost between $3,000 and $30,000 a year, or more, on average. If you choose to enter a full-time program, make sure you save enough money for living expenses before quitting your current job, or find a job that works with your class schedule. You can also keep your current job and enroll in an online program, which averages about $286, or more, per credit hour.
You may want to look for ways to minimize expenses, such as getting a roommate or moving home with your parents. You could even choose a graduate school or program that offers grants or scholarships. Student loans are also available, but be sure to seriously consider how much you will need and what student loans can cover.
“Hot career paths right now with a quick ROI upon graduation include coding, data science, robotics, physician assistant jobs and nursing,” Swan says. Before entering any program, research whether the degree and skillset will be in demand when you graduate and in the future.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s important to keep a long-term outlook. Switching careers can take anywhere from six months to four years, or more, Swan says, depending on your skill set, networking ability, and any schooling you’re required to take.
Staying in a career that’s unsatisfying can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health over time. And no career is worth sacrificing your well-being, Swan says.
“We are living, breathing, growing animals, and just as our bodies change, so do our interests,” she says. “It’s an exhilarating experience to embrace your new interests and to allow yourself to come alive with a new path.”
* Paid appearance by actual Regions customers telling their real story.