Change To A New Career Without Starting Over


Use your background - and a bit of education - to pursue a new career without starting from scratch.

By Andrea Duchon

You've put in countless hours to get where you're at in your current job, but you're miserable. Now what? You may actually be able to use some of the skills and education you already have to change into a different and more fulfilling career while remaining in the same field or one similar.

"If you're coming from another career that has the basic skills and education needed in a new career, it's easy to make a move," says Karen Galli, a career consultant and President of One Leadership Group, a company dedicated to helping individuals develop professionally and personally.

Of course, what is considered "easy" will be different for everyone, depending on their education and background. But according to experts, the career switches detailed here make sense, as skills and knowledge could transfer smoothly.

Keep reading to learn about four career changes that could help you start fresh - without starting over.

Career Switch #1: Nurse to Medical and Health Services Manager

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Maybe you're already working on the hospital floor as a registered nurse, but aren't sure if it's the right path for you. Perhaps you could see yourself working on the other side of the health care realm instead in a more administrative role.

Unlike nurses who are out helping patients, health service managers plan, direct, and coordinate health care facilities, according to Janet Scarborough Civitelli, a vocational psychologist, career counselor, and coach at, a website that provides information about career-related topics.

Why The Change Makes Sense: Simply put, nurses come from a practical, hands-on environment that could enrich the day-to-day responsibilities of a medical and health services manager, says Galli.

"The nurse's practical knowledge of illnesses, symptoms, self-care, medical information, and doctor exams allows them as a medical/health services manager to liaise between teams, departments, and administration," she adds.

But what might you get out of this move? Galli says this is a smart move if you're looking for less hectic days, or for a more defined role. "Work-life balance is certainly better as a manager, in most cases," she says.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.

Education Options: Every nurse's education and job experience will vary, so the path to pursuing a career as a medical and health services manager will vary as well. However, the U.S. Department of Labor says that "[p]rospective medical and health services managers have a bachelor's degree in health administration." Master's degrees in health services, long-term care administration, public health, public administration, or business administration are also common.

Career Switch #2: Business to Human Resources

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If you're in a business-related career now, you might have a lot of valuable insight and knowledge about the way your company's different departments work together. Why not put that knowledge to good use helping organizations connect with their employees in their human resources department?

Scarborough Civitelli says that a business background can be a good launching pad to a more specialized focus in human resources - a business department that oversees hiring, benefits, performance management, and employee satisfaction.

Why The Change Makes Sense: According to Galli, moving into HR is a great option if you want to switch gears away from business. "Many people move to HR because they have a calling to work with colleagues from an internal perspective instead of driving results through company profit. Or maybe you're fed up with the profit being the bottom line for all your projects," she says.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Human Resources Program.

Education Options: If you want to move into human resources, one position you can consider is human resources specialist. Most HR specialists have a bachelor's degree, and employers prefer candidates with a degree in human resources, business, or a related field, reports the U.S. Department of Labor. They also note that some human resources associations offer certification programs that some employers may prefer or require when hiring a human resources specialist.

Career Switch #3: Personal Financial Advisor to Market Research Analyst

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Have you realized that you enjoy the analytical aspect of your career as a personal financial advisor more than the client-facing side? Perhaps a career as a market research analyst would make a lot more sense for you.

That's because some of the responsibilities that market research analysts face day to day include analyzing data using statistical software, performing research and gathering data to help a company market its products and services, and converting complex data and findings into understandable tables and graphs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Why The Change Makes Sense: "The research skills you developed as a personal financial advisor will be a great springboard for you," says Galli.

"This a great move for someone who is no longer interested in the fast-paced 'sales' aspect of being an advisor, but has strong big-picture thinking to leverage current financial experience to create a market research analyst role that is homed in on finance," she notes.

And don't worry - while some may tell you that moving into a role as a market research analyst means an income regression, Galli says that's not always the case.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.

Education Options: Typically, market research analysts need a bachelor's degree in market research or a related field, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. However, these professionals may have majored in a different field, such as business administration, communications, or one of the social sciences.

Career Switch #4: Teacher to School Principal

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Have you been thinking about how you could transition your valuable experience as a teacher into a new role within the field of education? Luckily, Scarborough Civitelli says a jump from teacher to principal often comes quite naturally.

That's because principals who worked as teachers first have the experience to bridge the gap "between school board members, school employees, parents, students, and the general community," she says.

Why The Change Makes Sense: "A transition from teacher to school principal is great if you are interested in climbing the ladder, albeit the academic administration ladder," says Galli. "Or maybe working with kids [directly] has taken its toll on you and you no longer have the spark for teaching history but still want to make a difference in kids' lives."

With a background as a teacher, your move into school principal is probably just what the school, staff, and students need, says Galli. As a former teacher, you have intimate knowledge of what is missing for students to be successful, she says.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Education Leadership Program.

Education Options: If you want to prepare to make the career switch to principal, the U.S. Department of Labor says a master's degree in education administration or leadership is required by most schools. And good news if you're already a teacher: The Department of Labor says most principals have experience as teachers.

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