It is not uncommon for Americans to change occupations throughout the course of their working careers. Job security, evaporating employer funded retirement plans and life changes are reasons that Americans change careers. Although the process of switching careers can be a time of uncertainty, there are ways to make the change increasingly rewarding, including working with a mentor and returning to college to gain skills and knowledge needed to get hired into new jobs.
Additionally, working Americans can take advantage of employer funded tuition assistance programs to help pay for college. For example, workers can job shadow colleagues working in different departments to expand their work experience, enroll in college programs that complement the new job assignments and get their tuition reimbursed by their employer. As with any employer funded program, workers are encouraged to check with their human resources managers before enrolling in tuition assistance programs as rules and eligibility requirements vary by employer.
Another way that workers can increase their chances of majoring in career fields that will reward them financially, personally and professionally over the next several years is to research the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Handbooks. A wide variety of occupations are covered in the handbooks including accounting, journalism, computer design, teaching, history, agriculture, massage, fashion, architecture, engineering, medicine, nursing, sales, administration, public relations and marketing.
Types of information researched and reviewed in the handbooks includes national annual salaries by occupation, education and licensing requirements to get hired into jobs, regions of the country that higher large numbers of workers in certain occupations and typical work environments by jobs (e.g. standard hours worked, whether jobs are indoors or outdoors). However, it may be the job outlook information that adults looking to change careers find most rewarding. In the job outlook, the BLS provides growth expectancy for reviewed occupations. For example, workers can find out if new jobs they are interested in working are expected to grow by 7 percent or 25 percent over the next ten years.
College career counselors also have job postings they can share with college students, helping students to learn about occupations that are growing. In addition to having access to job databases and postings, college career counselors also have established relationships with employers, making it easier for them to get students hired into paying internships and new part-time and full-time jobs. To take advantage of these services, students looking to change careers are encouraged to meet with their career counselors once a month, staying abreast of new job and networking opportunities.
Meyers Briggs, career path and other personality tests are used to let workers know which types of jobs they may enjoy working most. For example, by taking the tests workers can discover whether their personality is suited toward leading employees, supporting managers or working as an entrepreneur. Life coaches, staffing agencies and career counselors administer these tests.
Finding careers that offer the greatest amounts of personal, professional and financial rewards can save workers months or years of frustration, created by working dead end jobs. It can also let workers know the types of college degrees they need to get hired into mid-to-senior level jobs. It may be well worth the effort because the average American may switch careers more than once.
In fact, the BLS reports that 25 percent of baby boomers between the ages of 18 and 44 worked 15 different jobs. On average, men baby boomers worked 11.4 different jobs, while women worked 10.7 different jobs. Getting college degrees can help adults meet minimum requirements to get hired into higher paying jobs; degrees can also help adults start their own businesses and successfully enter new career fields.
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