Career Changes for Experienced Professionals

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Are you looking for a new career where your experience could help you get a leg up? Check out these six options.

By Kristen Henning

Are you burnt out in your current career, but not sure if you want to toss out all of the experience you've built up?

While that's a valid concern, keep in mind that those years of experience could be just the thing to help you succeed in a different, more exciting field.

Just ask the author of "How'd You Score That Gig?: A Guide to the Coolest Jobs - and How to Get Them" Alexandra Levit. "As unattainable as a new career might sound, with the right amount of forethought and preparation, it is absolutely doable."

"Middle adulthood is actually a terrific time to change fields because you have grown significantly as a person. You have also acquired many skills that are transferable to other fields and have more knowledge of the type of work that energizes you," says Levit.

So if you're ready to use your skills to pursue another career, start by checking out these six careers Levit and others have identified as good options for experienced professionals.

Career #1: Health Care Administrator

If you're an experienced worker who loves helping others, you might want to consider looking into a career as a health care administrator.

As a health care administrator, you may plan and direct medical and health services, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. You might also find yourself keeping up with new laws and regulations, creating work schedules, and organizing the facility's records.

Why experience counts: Adults might be tasked with using their management and leadership skills to help organizations vital to people's health run smoothly. The idea of helping others is also rewarding, according to J.T. O'Donnell, founder and CEO of Careerhmo.com, a career assistance site.

Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program Now.

"Adults relate to helping people, the reality is we've been helping our parents and watching them go through [similar] issues, so [adults can succeed] in this field," says O'Donnell. "Being an administrator brings a new level of care and support with [rewarding responsibilities]."

Education options: "Prospective medical and health services managers have a bachelor's degree in health administration," reports the Department of Labor. Other common education backgrounds include a master's degree in health services, long-term care administration, business administration, public health, or public administration, according to the Department.


Career #2: Accountant or Personal Financial Advisor

If your first career has given you a lot of experience in the field of financial management or bookkeeping, the careers of accountant or personal financial advisor could be the perfect fit for your second-act.

These roles could offer those who love the world of finance and business the opportunity to make key financial decisions for various entities. For instance, the U.S. Department of Labor says that in addition to preparing tax documents and maintaining financial records, accountants typically assess financial operations and make suggestions to management. As for personal financial advisors, the Department of Labor says that they usually meet with clients to talk about financial goals and make investment recommendations.

Why experience counts: Later in life, individuals have a better grasp on their own personal finances and therefore have stronger knowledge about maintaining a budget, says O'Donnell.

"It's important to be planning for retirement, and we're naturally going to trust someone who is more seasoned," says O'Donnell.

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Even the Department mentions trust as a good quality for a personal financial advisor: "A major part of a personal financial advisor's job is making clients feel comfortable. They must establish trust with clients and respond well to their questions and concerns."

Education options: Most accountant positions require at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field, according to the Department. For the position of personal financial advisor, the Department says a bachelor's degree is typically needed, noting that "a degree in finance, economics, accounting, business, mathematics, or law is good preparation for this occupation."


Career #3: Human Resources Manager

Chances are that you've had a lot of experience working with people and built up some good interpersonal skills. That could be the right kind of experience for the job of human resources manager.

As a human resources manager, responsibilities could include overseeing the interviewing, hiring, and recruiting of new employees, while planning and coordinating the administrative functions for an organization, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. You could also act as the liaison between the management team and employees at a firm, adds the Department of Labor.

Why experience counts: O'Donnell says that this is a good move for someone with people skills, which adults have had longer to develop than younger workers. He adds that problem-solving tasks are involved with these occupations and that's also an area where experience counts.

"This is all about talent. Anyone who has ever lost a job or [been on an interview] knows the difference you can make in this profession," says O'Donnell. The Department says that certain skills are also essential, including interpersonal, speaking, and listening skills.

Click to Find the Right Human Resources Program Now.

Education options: For this role, most individuals are required to possess a bachelor's degree in human resources or business administration, according to the Department.


Career #4: Pharmacy Technician

If you have a lot of experience dealing with people face-to-face, then a career as a pharmacy technician might work for you. It's a role in which you not only work closely with pharmacists but also with customers to fill prescriptions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Pharmacy technicians could assist licensed pharmacists to distribute prescription medication at pharmacies and hospitals, adds the Department of Labor.

Why experience counts: As a pharmacy technician, you could enter a stable career that requires skills that many adults already possess such as experience in a retail setting, according to career expert Abby Kohut, founder of Absolutelyabby.com, a career advice and job recruitment site. And the industry is expanding - the employment rate for technicians is predicted to grow 32 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the Department.

Click to Find the Right Pharmacy Technology Program Now.

"Adults understand the importance of being precise," says Kohut.

Sounds like something that'd be important in this type of profession. In fact, one duty of most pharmacy technicians is to count pills and measure amounts in medications, according to the Department.

Education options: The Department says that education requirements vary by state. Some may require a high school diploma or GED, while others may require candidates to graduate from a formal training program. Another option is to complete a postsecondary program in pharmacy technology, which can be obtained at a community college or vocational school.


Career #5: School Counselor

Does using your life and work experience to help the next generation sound good? You might consider the role of school counselor.

As a school counselor, you could assist students in making career decisions and choosing education programs. You may also help students to develop social skills, set their academic goals, and evaluate their abilities and interests, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Why experience counts: At this stage in your career, you have been through the education process yourself and have the proper knowledge to pass along to students. You are self aware, according to Kohut. "You bring to the table world experience," she says. "You have [completed schooling] and worked in different industries that students [may also be interested in pursuing]."

Click to Find the Right Counseling Program Now.

Add to that, the Department of Labor says, a developed compassion for people in difficult or stressful situations, and people, speaking, and listening skills, and you could have what it takes to pursue a career as a school counselor and make a difference in young people's lives.

Education options: Most states require a master's degree in school counseling or a related field to enter this profession, according to the Department.


Career #6: Event Planner

Are you someone who never misses a party? Your zest for a good time just may have given you the perfect experience for a career as an event planner.

As an event planner, you could be responsible for meeting with clients to understand the purpose of the event and plan the event from start to finish, including the location, cost, catering needs, and more, says the U.S. Department of Labor. Other details may include coordinating plans with on-site staff and approving the payment and bills for the outing, according to the Department of Labor.

Why experience counts: This field requires strong communication, organization, and problem-solving skills, as no day on the job is the same, according to O'Donnell.

"Event planning is managing a lot of logistics and different components," says O'Donnell. "The only way to do this is to have experience in [multi-tasking] and to do it well."

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That tracks with some of the skills that the Department says are helpful for success in this job. They cite everything from composure under pressure and communication skills to negotiating and problem-solving skills. And as anyone knows, experience can help with all of these.

Education options: For a job in this industry, a bachelor's degree is often preferred as well as experience in planning or hotels, says the Department. Related degrees include marketing, public relations, communications, and business, according to the Department.


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