Thinking of a career change? Here’s how to do it

The days of life-long careers may be over – it’s increasingly uncommon these days for a person to stay in exactly the same job for their whole life.
Many people prefer to build up a set of transferrable skills and move between industries over the years. But making a career change can still be a nerve-racking decision.

Sometimes, it means starting from a lower rung in a new industry or re-entering education to get some new qualifications, so you might have to tweak your lifestyle to accommodate this change.

Some of the key things to consider when you are looking for a career change include understanding the skills you need to demonstrate or develop to get into your chosen career, how you can go about preparing to move industry and any implications there may be for your personal finances.

Research your career change
One of the best ways to figure out what you need to do to achieve a career change is to study job adverts in the industry you want to move into. This will let you work out what kind of skills and qualifications will be required and/or desirable if you are going to be a successful applicant for one of these jobs in the future.

Once you know the skills you will need, the next step is to work out how best to demonstrate these abilities.

Sometimes, it’s not necessary to have qualifications if you can demonstrate what you can do another way, so getting involved in a voluntary or personal project which you can use as a case study may be sufficient. If you do need particular qualifications then there are several options for how to achieve this.

Getting qualified
One third of undergraduates at UK universities are mature students, so if you decide to go and study full time for a degree you definitely won’t feel out of place. Whether you need a particular higher education qualification or a different professional qualification, you have the option to either study full time or look at part time and distance learning options.

Distance learning and part time courses allow you to keep working while studying for your career change, and you still get great support. The Open University, for example, offers distance learning and their support network for students is very strong; with excellent communication and the ability to interact with other students and tutors online.

If you want or need to give up your current job in order to study or get experience for your career change, you need to prepare for the effect this will have on your personal finances.

Financing a career change
When you secure a role in a new industry you may have to take a pay cut if you go in at a lower rung. This is one way in which in a career change could affect your personal finances, but even before this you may need to pay for education or the costs of supporting yourself while you get the necessary experience to help you move careers.
It may be worth saving up some cash specifically to finance you career change.

This could give you the financial security to live without an income for a while if necessary, or you could use it to pay course fees to help you get qualified for your new career. Barclays Bank offers a few options for saving, including a monthly savings option or Cash ISAs, which let you save up to the annual limit tax free each year. Click here to read about saving with Barclays, but be sure to do plenty of research to ensure that you find the right savings solution for you.

However you go about changing your career, it’s essential that you research your choice to make sure you definitely want the change you are going after, that you know how to make yourself a strong candidate and that you have the financial security to support a change in job and maybe even a pay cut in the short term.

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Written by Joycellyn Akuffo

Founder and editor of www.motherswhowork.co.uk, a mother of two wonderful children, wife, entrepreneur (check out www.geekschool.co.uk) and journalist.

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