The age of the lifelong career has officially come to a close. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Baby Boomers have switched jobs an average of twelve times thus far—and the pace of change may be even faster for Gen X and Millennial job seekers.
While many career shifts involve similar positions with different employers, it's far from unusual for modern professionals to take on completely new fields. If anything, the fast pace of change in today's job market has made it easier and more socially acceptable to start over.
These days, significant career shifts can occur at any age and after any length of time in a particular field. Many Baby Boomers, for example, view career transition as an appealing alternative to retirement. Younger workers are just as eager for change, especially given the increased role that maintaining a sense of purpose now plays in job satisfaction.
If you're not feeling fulfilled in your current career, you may be ready for a change. This should not be cause for fear or regret, but rather, an opportunity to align your professional pursuits with your true interests, skills, and values. With a little discernment and a targeted education, you can successfully make the leap to a new career that you adore.
Graduate School: The Perfect Opportunity For Changing Careers
Changing careers is more than possible in today's dynamic job environment, but that doesn't make it easy. While many professionals boast a variety of transferable skills that can be called upon in several fields, specific knowledge and abilities may still be lacking. Additionally, many jobs require extensive certification, specialized degrees, or other credentials. These can take considerable time to secure. Thankfully, the reward is often well worth the effort.
For many, the most effective approach for transitioning to a new career involves graduate education. While professionals tend to hold bachelor's and master's degrees in similar fields, others enter radically different degree programs by the time they apply for graduate school. This approach is often preferable to obtaining a second bachelor's degree, especially given the role of timing. Many graduate programs can be completed in just two years, whereas additional bachelor's degrees may force students to take a variety of prerequisites or even return for additional general education courses.
The status conferred through graduate education is also worth considering. When making the leap to a new career, it helps to hold an academic edge over competing applicants. Graduate degrees stand out, particularly among job candidates who are new to their chosen field. Combined with real-world job experience and transferable skills, a master's degree could provide the edge needed to succeed in a competitive job market. What's more, a master's degree may deliver better pay—and the ability to enter a new field at a higher level of employment.
Getting Into Graduate School: Keys to Admission As You Shift Your Career Focus
Aspiring students often procrastinate on applying to grad school because they assume that their undergraduate background is too simply too different. In reality, however, many programs enthusiastically accept students from all walks of life. College admissions staff recognize that a variety of career paths can lead to graduate school—and that the best programs benefit from the perspectives of several types of students.
When in doubt, take a close look at admissions standards for various programs. Many simply require applicants to hold bachelor's degrees. The previous field of study often doesn't matter. In other cases, differing undergraduate credentials may be accepted if the applicant is able to pass mandated exams. A variety of other factors may also be taken into consideration, including previous jobs, volunteer experience, portfolios, and letters of recommendation.
In select cases, supplementary coursework may be needed at the undergraduate level prior to admission. Such requirements can often be completed without the need for an additional bachelor's degree.
Key Considerations: Things to Think About Before Applying to a Graduate Program
Academic similarities can make the transition process a lot less complicated. For example, a student with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting may find it easier to transition to a graduate-level business administration program than somebody with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. This shouldn't dissuade you from going in a radically different direction, but it's worth considering the extent of the potential change when selecting a graduate program. This may determine the additional effort required to score admission into a program clearly outside your previous field.
Often, proven experience plays a greater role in admissions than academic credentials—especially if years or decades have passed since securing a bachelor's degree. Your undergraduate background may involve a dramatically different area of study than your preferred graduate program. But this might not matter if you've already shown potential in a related field. To improve your chances of acceptance, highlight relevant career successes.
When reviewing specific degree requirements, keep an eye on deadlines. In some cases, the process of qualifying may take several months or even a full year. This will largely depend on your need to take supplementary classes or to pass required exams. Consider building at least an extra semester into your estimated graduate school timeline to account for fulfilling admissions requirements.
Ultimately, like any transition in life, success in attending graduate school and switching careers requires preparation. The sooner you begin to explore your options, the sooner you could be on your way to your dream career.
Are you ready to take the next step towards obtaining your graduate degree? Look no further than the University of the Cumberlands. With professors who have years of real-world experience in the same field they are teaching, very competitive tuition rates, and a sense of honor in everything we do, why look any further? See what UC can do for you by contacting an admissions counselor for more information.