This site is currently inactive.
Links and other features on this site are currently unavailable.


Deciding if a career change is for you

While losing weight and quitting smoking remain among the most popular New Year's resolutions each year, many more people resolve to change careers at the dawn of a new year.

Changing careers is a significant step, especially for men and women who are firmly established in their fields. A career change can be just as rewarding and life-changing as losing weight or quitting smoking, and there are some things professionals might want to consider before resolving to change careers in the new year.

Changing careers vs. switching jobs

Changing careers and switching jobs are not the same thing, and some people may want the former while others may only be in need of the latter. A full-fledged career change may require returning to school and a willingness to start from the bottom. A job change typically allows professionals to stay in their fields and move on to another position, whether it's with their existing employer or with another company.

Career trajectory

The direction of a person's career may also influence whether or not they want to make a career change. Established professionals mulling a career change should consider their willingness to start anew. Many mid-career professionals have worked for years to establish themselves in their fields and within their companies. Switching careers does not mean that experience and reputation is invaluable, but neither attribute may carry as much weight in a different line of work, and that can affect career trajectory and future earnings.

Effects on others

Established professionals must also consider the effect that a career change may have on their families. Married mid-career professionals should discuss changing careers with their spouse, and even their children if the kids are old enough to understand. Discuss the pros and cons of changing careers and the impact that making such a change may have on your family's daily life. Will the family have to move? Will the family lifestyle change dramatically, if at all? Spouses and children may feel better about the change knowing they were involved in the decision, and talking things through with family may help working professionals determine if changing careers is the best decision for them.

Long-term goals

Long-term goals are another thing to consider before making a career change. That's especially true for mid- or late-career professionals who may already have made significant progress toward achieving their long-term goals. Discuss long-term goals with your spouse or significant other and how changing careers might affect those goals. Long-term goals can change, and while the ability to realize those goals might not weigh heavily in your decision regarding a career change, understanding how such a change might affect your retirement or other late-life plans can only help you make the most informed decision possible.

Many people resolve to change careers at the dawn of a new year. But such a decision requires the careful consideration of a host of factors.