Career Change Education - Retraining for a Career Change

For these readers who wanted to make a career change education was the answer. Read stories about people who returned to school to make a mid career change.

My Rewarding Career Change

I decided to make a career change when I was 40 years old because I knew that although I was in a "job" in which I could always make money (I was working as a legal secretary at the time), it was not really a career and it was definitely not my passion.

I had always wanted to work with kids. So I enrolled in graduate school with the intention of becoming a school counselor. After one year in the program one of my professors suggested that I look into the school psychologist program, which was, from his perspective, much more rewarding and much more promising.

So I switched programs and became a school psychologist. It is truly a career that is challenging, yet at the same time brings me much joy every day.

For anyone thinking about changing careers, I would say first determine whether you will need more education. If you need more education then find a program that fits your needs, whether it is online classes, or, as I did it, a weekend college.

The time really goes by quickly in graduate school, especially if you are in a field that you truly have a passion for. It is most important to follow your career dreams in life because you are the only person that can make them come true.

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Burned Out, Then Made a Career Change

by Carolyn Osborne
(Columbus, OH)

When I became a director of a social service, I swore to myself that I would quit the job the minute I was no longer able to stand in the shoes of someone I was trying to help. I was in my twenties and I had the endless energy of a mid-twenties person, so I was able to handle a job that was essentially 24/7. I stayed in that job for 3.5 years, which was three times longer than anyone else who had had that job (and, twenty years later, remains the record, unfortunately). Towards the end, I had a family issue that on top of a highly stressful job meant that I experienced a high degree of burnout.

My job had required a masters degree, so I decided to pursue further education so I could change careers. I got into a Ph.D. program and even got a research assistantship so my tuition was paid for and I got a small stipend to live on each month.

It was a real culture shock to return to graduate school after three years of dealing with gritty reality and I realized how much my previous job had helped me to grow in my understanding of people.

My Ph.D. allowed me to get a job as a professor, which has allowed me to use my experience in social services and my social service skills, but without the high stress environment around me. I had run a battered women's shelter, in which I had experienced a significant amount of danger. The university does not have as many potentially violent people running around as my shelter did!

I tell my students that there is no reason to remain in a job that they hate or where they are burned out. There are always options, and when they stay in a bad situation they are not only not helping themselves but they are also potentially doing damage to the people they were originally supposed to help.

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Skilled Trade Career Change

A few years ago I was abruptly laid off when the car dealer I worked at as an auto mechanic closed. My wife of 10 years had recently received a promotion so I found a temporary job working at the grocery store at night and returned to school.

I went to a local community college and trained to be an electrician. Given my experience working with automotive electrical systems and the continual need for electrical system servicing this seemed like a good fit for me.

The school I chose admitted me into a special program where half of my time spent was working with a local electrical services company. They provided real-world training working alongside an experienced electrician as well as considered people in the program to work for the company as they were experiencing unusually heavy retirement numbers.

After a year of training I was hired onto the company as a journeyman electrician. I was already making more than I did as a car mechanic after a single year of school.

Given my experiences the advice I would give is to look at what you learned and evaluate what other careers would make use of this experience. Use your evaluation to find a school, company or program that gives you real-world skills in your newly chosen career.

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How I Became a Teacher

I was overworked, unhappy, generally depressed, and under appreciated in a soul sucking office accounting job. I came to work generally unhappy and dreading the day. I also left work unhappy, but exhausted, trying my best to keep myself from falling asleep on the ride back from work.

One day, I finally decided to make a jump and go into a whole different direction -- to find a new career. I decided to completely remove myself from corporate hierarchies, mundane work, and pointless office politics and begin searching for something that was completely new.

Because I was in my current position for so many years, I had no idea where to go or what to do. Therefore, I did plenty of research into possible careers that I've always found interesting.

After much deliberation, I found that possibly teaching would be the best career move for me to make. For about 6 months, I continued to work at my old accounting position but took education classes at a local community college at night. I received my certificate to teach thereafter.

Many new teachers complain about the process to teach but I found it to be quite easy: all it was just to take a few classes at night, set up an appointment for some state testing, and you have your certificate. I feel I am much happier now that I work within education. I've never looked back since.

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My Career Change From the Factory to the Classroom

by Kevin
(Raleigh, NC)

After I received my bachelor's degree, I found myself working in my hometown at a local boat factory for some time. It was a small town, and I didn't have much money, but before I knew it I had been working in the factory for several years.

It wasn't what I wanted to do with my life, but I didn't have many accessible alternatives. Rather than look to achieve my dreams, though, I let myself settle into a rut while I tried to justify to myself that my actions were worthwhile ... even though I knew they weren't.

When my younger brothers made it to college, I decided to take action and try to go back myself, to achieve a goal I had set for myself much earlier in life - to be a teacher.

At the factory, I couldn't really achieve a leadership position, nor could I make use of the faculties I felt I possessed. Instead, when I returned to school, I decided to push myself towards a career as a professor at the university level, where I could help influence future generations of successful go-getters and maybe help students avoid the poor choices I'd made right after college.

For the last five years I've been successful in my quest, even currently pursuing a PhD and teaching at the same time. This is the life I wanted to lead, and this is the career I had always hoped for but was afraid initially to pursue. It's within my grasp now, and I'll never regret a moment of the process.

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