Switching Careers: A How-to Guide on Changing Your Career

paper planes - changing your career

Changing your career is a significant life choice that requires careful consideration. When you’re ready to switch careers, it’s crucial to have a plan to help you avoid needless mistakes, allowing you to find a wonderful and fulfilling career opportunity.

There is a difference between being unhappy with your current job and wanting to switch careers due to burnout. Generally speaking, job dissatisfaction improves by moving to a new position or company, whereas changing careers is about finding employment in an entirely new career field.

So, how do you successfully switch careers? Let’s explore the ins and outs of changing your career.

Main Takeaways

•There are various factors motivating professionals to switch careers. These factors include flatlining salaries, stagnating career growth, lack of development opportunities, and unfulfilling jobs.

•Changing careers involves returning to school, retraining, and accepting entry-level positions. Understanding what’s involved in a new career path is crucial to avoid regretting making such a significant professional pivot.

•Knowing when the right moment to switch careers hinges on job dissatisfaction. Feeling generally unhappy and unfulfilled at work may signal the right time to move on. Most importantly, it may be time to step out of your comfort zone and seek a truly fulfilling career track.

What Does It Mean to “Change Careers?”

In essence, switching careers means seeking employment opportunities outside your current area of expertise. Sometimes, a career switch may be related to your current occupation. For instance, an accountant looking to make a career switch chooses to find employment in human resources. Other times, changing careers may be drastic such as a teacher leaving the educational field and moving into general contracting.

Reasons for switching careers may vary. Nevertheless, these reasons aren’t always related to money. Changing careers often involves seeking more fulfilling employment opportunities. Most professionals seek to switch into a field that better resonates with their personality and interests.

Here are the main reasons why employees seek to change careers:

Salary growth opportunities flatlined

•Performance has peaked

•Personal growth opportunities

•Limited career advancement opportunities

•Have more flexibility (schedule, location, tasks)

•Change working schedules (from full-time to part-time and vice-versa)

•Lower stress in the workplace

•Pursue a passion

•Improve work-life balance

•Earn more recognition

•Find travel opportunities

•Fulfill a dream

•Get a fresh start

Changing careers is not a decision to be taken lightly and requires careful thought and consideration. Switching careers may entail retraining and starting from an entry-level position. Going this route requires a clear plan to avoid unpleasant bumps along the way.

How Do You Know You Are Ready to Switch Careers?

When considering a career change, Ask yourself the following three questions. Your answers will reveal if you are ready to move on to a new career field.

•How satisfied am I with my current occupation?

•Would I choose the same occupation if I had to do it all over again?

•Am I willing to put in the time and effort needed to make headway in my new occupation?

The last question, in particular, reveals your true desire to move on from your current position. Suppose you’re genuinely willing to commit the time and effort needed to retrain and most likely start anew in an entry-level position. In that case, you’re ready to make the big switch.

scientist using microscope

How to Change Careers

Changing careers is much easier when you have a plan. Often, a solid plan will help you avoid starting all the way from entry-level positions. After all, your current education, skills, and experience can help you cut down on the overall time needed to make headway in your new occupation.

Here is a practical guide to help you build a plan for your career switch.

  1. Evaluate your job satisfaction. Keep track of your emotions and reactions at your current job. Suppose you find yourself mostly unhappy and reacting negatively to everyday situations. In that case, this may signal that you need to find other employment opportunities.
  2. Take a good look at your skills, core values, and interests. If these don’t align with your current job, that is a clear signal that it’s time to look elsewhere.
  3. Evaluate other jobs and industries that interest you. Imagine yourself working in these areas. This exercise can help you narrow your focus to a handful of jobs.
  4. Do your homework. Research the jobs that interest you. Find out what the current salaries and demands are for these jobs. Determine if you have the skills you need for this type of job. If not, you may need to figure out some kind of retraining.
  5. Make a plan. Write down actionable steps you can take to make the switch. For instance, consider retraining or refresher courses you may need to take.
  6. Prepare your resume. Your resume may need an overhaul. So, plan to work on it. Otherwise, you may need external consultants to help you with it.
  7. Ask around. Ask other professionals in your areas of interest for their opinions about what you need to be successful. These conversations will help you better understand your skills and the ones you need.
  8. Take on freelance or volunteer tasks. There is no need to make an abrupt 180 to switch careers. You can start by taking on freelance or volunteer opportunities in your free time.
  9. Determine if you need to go back to school. Think about additional training you may need. It’s important to consider returning to school if you need a degree or certification for your new occupation.
  10. Find out what’s available in your current industry. Research employment opportunities in your current industry. You may switch occupations but not industries. You have a better chance of changing careers within the same industry than starting fresh in a new one.

Mistakes to Avoid When Changing Careers

When going about changing careers, there are three potential mistakes to keep an eye out for:

1. Quitting your current job too soon

Making a spur-of-the-moment decision to quit your job may end up becoming costly. Quitting your job too soon may ultimately backfire.

How so?

Establishing yourself in a new career path comes with a certain degree of uncertainty. After all, you may not be entirely sure this new career path is for you until you get your feet wet. You may change your mind once you’ve gained experience in your new career field.

A good rule of thumb is to leave your current job once you feel confident your new career path meets your expectation. At that point, you can go all-in on your new career path.

2. Overlooking salary

Financial reasons may not necessarily drive your career shift. Your career shift may be more about following a personal passion than seeking better compensation. It might be easy to overlook your salary’s importance in such situations.

Unfortunately, overlooking salary may quickly become a serious issue. You may soon realize that you’re having trouble making a living in your new career path. This situation might motivate you to abandon pursuing this new career path.

A good rule of thumb is to keep in mind how much you need to make a living. When you pivot into a career field, always ensure your initial compensation is enough to help you make a living. Therefore, you can stay afloat as you work your way up the ranks.

3. Staying in your comfort zone

It’s always easier to stay in your comfort zone. Your initial instinct might be to look for new career paths within your current career track. While nothing is wrong with that, you may overlook better opportunities.

Staying in your comfort zone may seem “safe.” However, you might deny yourself the opportunity to truly live your life’s passion. So, don’t sell yourself short. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Stepping out of your comfort zone may be the shot in the arm you need to take your career path to the next level.


Switching careers is a significant life decision. Taking the time to craft a careful plan will reduce the time and effort needed to make headway. While retraining may be necessary to switch careers, it’s crucial for you to make a plan to get the skills and training you need.

How Can Simply Biotech Help You Find the Opportunity You Want?

At Simply Biotech, we’re experts at matching the right people with the right companies. If you’re looking for a new employment opportunity, let us help you find the perfect one. Countless professionals from all walks of life have trusted us in their job search. Find out more about how we can help you find your next employment opportunity today!


This post is made available for informational purposes only to provide a general understanding of the topics discussed herein. It is not intended to provide specific business, legal, or professional advice and should not be relied on as such. Simply Biotech is not liable or responsible for any damage or loss arising from any reliance placed on such materials.