How to Prepare for a New Career

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Want to make a career change? The New Year could be the perfect time to start preparing.

By Jennifer Berry    

If you're looking for work or thinking about making a change, now is not the time to take a vacation.

Instead, make 2012 a time for career renewal and change.

For some, this might mean taking stock of current skills and figuring out how they might translate to another career or industry. For others, it might be time to go back to school to gain more knowledge or acquire new skills.

To help you decide what route to take, we've highlighted five exciting career options for career-changers, as well as their respective education and skill requirements.

Career # 1 - Health Care Administrator

Are you looking to get into a field where you can put your natural leadership skills to work? Consider earning your bachelor's degree in health administration to prepare for a career as a health care administrator.

As a health care administrator, your responsibilities could vary from assisting the top administrator in a large health care facility to handling more daily operations at a smaller facility. This could include managing personnel and providing resident care, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.

Education: Some positions may require a master's degree, but you could prepare for entry level positions in smaller facilities with a bachelor's degree, notes the Department. Possible courses might range from anatomy and physiology to health policy and business law.*

Average earning potential: $93,670*


Career # 2 - Accountant

Do you get satisfaction from balancing your checkbook and tracking your expenses? You might have the makings of a great accountant - and a bachelor's degree in accounting could be the perfect way to pursue this career path.

As an accountant, you'll likely help your firm by keeping accurate public records, paying taxes, and offering budget analysis or financial planning advice, according to the Department.

Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.

Education: Want to make a career change to accounting? You generally want to have at least a bachelor's degree in accounting to get started on this career path. Your courses might cover topics such as basic accounting, auditing, taxation, personal finance, and payroll accounting.*

Average earning potential: $68,960*


Career # 3 - Paralegal

When you dream about your new career future, do you envision yourself in the fast-paced world of law? If you're intrigued by the legal profession but don't want to invest the time and money required for law school, consider earning your associate's degree in paralegal studies.

As a paralegal, you'll likely perform many of the same tasks as lawyers. This includes preparing for trials, investigating the facts of cases, and even drafting pleadings and motions to be filed with the court, according to the Department.

Click to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Program.

Education: Earning an associate's degree in paralegal studies is the most common method to pursue a career as a paralegal. Your courses might include subjects such as contracts, legal ethics, and civil litigation.*

Average earning potential: $49,640*


Career #4 - Personal Financial Advisor

Do you have a knack for numbers and understand the importance of being financially stable? If so, you might enjoy a career as a personal financial advisor. You could pursue this career path by earning your bachelor's degree in business.

As a personal financial advisor, you'll likely assist others with their short-term and long-term goals by helping them with their investment, tax, and insurance decisions, according to the Department.

Click to Find the Right Business Program.

Education: Personal financial advisors generally earn at least a bachelor's degree in business, finance, or a related field. If you choose to pursue a bachelor's degree, you may study a variety of subjects like accounting principals, investment analysis, and finance.*

Average earning potential: $91,220*


Career #5 - Registered Nurse (RN)

If you want to transition into a career that will tap into your passion for helping people, earning your associate's degree in nursing could give you a push in the right direction towards an RN career.

Great for people who like to care for and interact with others, a RN career often involves caring for patients, recording medical histories, helping perform diagnostic tests, and administering treatment and medications.

RNs might also run immunization clinics, blood drives, or educate people about health issues, according to the Department.

Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.

Education: To help prepare for this 2012 career change, consider earning your associate's degree in nursing, which could take as little as two to three years. Your nursing courses could include subjects like anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and nursing skills.*

Average earning potential: $67,720*


*All salary information and education requirements are provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010.


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