Changing Careers? Top 5 Essential Things to Know

The economic climate ha given rise to an increasing number of Americans looking to switch careers. For many, this means heading back to school to gain new skills in a different market.

While bailing on one career and pursuing another can seem like a daunting task, particularly when you are headed into middle-age territory, a few pointers can help make the transition much smoother. Here are a few things you should know about switching careers.

  1. Find a Growing Area
    If you are leaving your career because the economy put your company in a bad place, it is important to go into a field projected to experience long-term growth and increased revenue opportunity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains detailed information concerning virtually every occupation you could imagine. You’ll learn about the average salary, quality of work life and most importantly, where the industry is headed. Make sure you do plenty of research before charting your next career course. Jobs such as medical billing and coding are expected to grow at a much faster than average rate.
  2. Find the Right Educational Path
    If you are switching careers, you will likely have to keep the one you have while training for a new one. If you need to gain certification or a degree, it’s important to pick a program that will allow you to work on your spare time. For people with families and a day job, online classes are typically a good option and allow students to earn medical billing and coding certificate on their own time. Others prefer a mix of online and in-person classes. Everyone has a different learning style and it is important to pick a method that fits your style.
  3. Follow a Professional in Your Chosen Field
    Once you choose a particular career, you’ll want some reassurance it is the right choice for you. One effective method is to shadow a professional in your chosen industry. If you are enrolled in a medical billing school, ask your professor about internships or the opportunity to trail a professional in the industry for a day. This will give you some insight into the day-to-day activities of your newly chosen career.
  4. Take Inventory of Your Current Skills
    It has probably been a while since you’ve taken inventory of your own skill sets. Think about what skills you use at your current job and how they will apply to your new chosen profession. What new skills will you need to develop? Knowing where you stand is an important part of deciding where you want to be.
  5. Volunteer or Contract Work In Your Chosen Field
    If you have received your medical billing and coding certificate but haven’t found that new job yet, consider gaining the experience you need to land a new position by volunteering or offering your services on a freelance level. By contracting work, you can moonlight and gain valuable experience while maintaining your current day job. Soon, you’ll have enough experience to move into your new career full time.

Ben Norris is a freelance writer and editor living in Phoenix, Arizona.