Speedy Career Change Options

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See how the right education could help you ramp up for a career change.

By Jennifer Berry    

Want to change careers, but don't want to spend four plus years in school preparing?

You're not alone.

According to Barbara Silva, a career educational specialist, many people are returning to school for certificate and associate's degree programs - programs that can generally be completed in as little as one to two years.

"Some may not be academically inclined and prefer more 'hands-on' learning," Silva says. "There are also those who are employed, but need at least an associate's degree to qualify for higher pay in the place where they work."

Check out these speedy career options that you could prepare for in as little as one to two years.

Career #1 - Computer Support Specialists

Are your friends and family always asking you to help them with technical problems? A position where you're helping others solve computer issues may be ideal for you.

As a computer support specialist, you could use your skills to help people and companies with their computer systems. You might use automatic diagnostics programs to solve software problems, or teach people to use new computer hardware and software.

Click to Find the Right IT Program.

Education Options: Some computer support specialist positions might require a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering, or information systems. The good news, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, is that you can apply for some positions with a computer-related two-year associate's degree.*


Career #2 - Bookkeeper

Do you have a good head for numbers? Consider preparing to transition to a career in bookkeeping.

In this career, you might update and maintain accounting records, oversee bank deposits, or even handle payroll. You might also produce financial statements, prepare invoices, and keep track of overdue accounts.

Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.

Education Options: Look into earning a two-year associate's degree in business or accounting. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, it's required for some bookkeeping positions.*


Career #3 - Paralegal

Do you have a knack for research? Are you a naturally curious person?

Your research and investigation skills could come in handy as a paralegal, where it would be your job to investigate the facts of cases, prepare written reports for attorneys, and assist attorneys during trials.

Click to Find the Right Paralegal Program.

Education Options: There are a couple options for aspiring paralegals, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. A two-year associate's degree in paralegal studies is one option. If you already have a bachelor's degree, you could earn a paralegal studies certificate in as little as a few months.*


Career #4 - Medical Assistant

Are you motivated by a strong desire to help others? Do you want to transition to a rewarding career in the medical field?

As a medical assistant, you might help with patient care by recording vital signs and performing basic lab tests. You might also play an important role in keeping your doctor's office running smoothly by scheduling appointments and handling insurance claims.

Click to Find the Right Medical Assisting Program.

Education Options: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, formal education is usually preferred. Consider earning a two-year associate's degree in medical assisting. Another option is to earn a medical assisting certificate, which could take as little as one year to complete.*


Career #5 - Pharmacy Technician

Want to pursue a career where you can put your detail-oriented mind to work? Consider studying pharmacy technology.

As a pharmacy technician, you might process prescription requests and help licensed pharmacists prepare medications. That might include counting, weighing, and sometimes mixing medications, and - when the prescription is filled - pricing and filing the medication.

Click to Find the Right Pharmacy Program.

Education Options: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers favor applicants who have formal education, certification, or previous experience. The good news: you could prepare to transition into this career by earning a pharmacy technician diploma, a certificate, or an associate's degree.*


*All education information is from the U.S. Department of Labor. All time to completions are average and will vary by student, full or part-time status, schedules, school, program, and other factors.

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