How to Change Careers

Pursuing a new career path can be an exciting and nerve-wracking venture. Luckily, the right tips, a confident attitude and substantial planning can simplify the switch. Explore several tips for changing careers in this guide.

how to change careers

Reasons People Change Their Career Path

People change their careers for a multitude of reasons. Some common reasons for career shifts include:

  • Better compensation: Many employees change career paths for financial reasons. They may not make enough money in their current field and simply desire a better salary.
  • Healthier work environment: In a study of American employees, 64% of respondents experienced a toxic work environment primarily due to leadership. Employees who don’t feel valued in their current work environment often consider changing careers. They need a workplace that can support all of their needs, including recognition, appreciation, pay, benefits and morals.
  • Improved work-life balance: Juggling a career and personal life can be challenging. That’s why many employees desire more flexibility, such as work-from-home options and more accommodating schedules.
  • Growth opportunity: Some people change careers due to a lack of advancement and growth opportunities in their current line of work. They may feel stuck or no longer have a passion for their field, prompting them to explore new career opportunities.

Career Path Change Statistics

Over 39% of employees consider career changes to earn a higher salary.

It’s fairly common to change career paths. Several statistics can back this up:

  • Over 39% of employees consider career changes to earn a higher salary.
  • Only 14% of American employees feel content in their current jobs and don’t plan to change them.
  • Nearly 70% of all working-age employees actively seek new careers.
  • About half of American workers have considered changing their career paths in 2023, and 44% already plan to make the switch.
  • Most people will have 12 jobs in their lifetime.
  • Employees change careers an average of 5.7 times between the ages of 18 and 24.

Pros and Cons of Changing Career Paths

Shifting careers can bring many benefits, including:

  • Greater satisfaction: People who change careers usually show more engagement in their new job, as it’s something they’re more interested in or passionate about.
  • More career opportunities: Switching careers allows employees to gain expertise in new fields and industries, qualifying them for a wider variety of jobs. Additionally, working in a new industry enables people to expand their cohorts and career networks.
  • Better pay: Generally, employees who stay at their current jobs will only receive a 3% salary increase each year. Changing companies or careers can be an excellent opportunity to earn more money.

That being said, changing career paths can bring some challenges, such as:

  • Financial concerns: Changing careers often brings a period of unemployment, an entry-level salary or the need to pay for further education.
  • Complex process: Finding a new job can take considerable trial and error, time, and patience, especially in an unfamiliar industry. A person changing careers must start from scratch and realize that moving up the career ladder in a new industry will take time. However, a growth mindset and proper planning make the process significantly easier.

How to Know if It’s the Right Time

Some signs it may be time to change careers include:

  • Being financially unstable.
  • Feeling undervalued, unsatisfied or disengaged at work.
  • Feeling mentally or physically exhausted.

Steps to Take When Changing Career Paths

Discover some of the fundamental steps for how to change career paths below. 

1. Explore Other Career Path Options

Before changing careers, job seekers should brainstorm different industries and career paths that align with their interests, experiences and skills. If they’re struggling to find the right path, they can ask other people in their professional network for guidance or pursue career counseling.

In many cases, changing industries isn’t necessary. Job searchers can easily find new careers without going back to school to pursue an entirely new field. Those looking to change industries, however, should ask themselves these questions:

  • What industries am I interested in pursuing?
  • Why did I choose my previous field?
  • Why am I looking to leave my current industry?
  • What skills from my previous line of work can I apply to this new industry?
  • Do I know anyone in these new industries that I could speak with?

2. Talk With People in the Desired Industries

People looking to change career paths should observe their jobs of interest firsthand. Shadowing professionals can help job seekers determine if these careers would be a good fit. College career offices, community centers and professional networks can be great resources for finding job shadowing opportunities.

3. Plan for the Future

Job searchers should develop an action plan after identifying a new career path. They should set attainable goals and determine the steps needed to achieve them. They can think about education and certification, organizing finances, attending network events and other factors to define clear goals and milestones. Then, job seekers can write down the necessary steps and a desired completion timeline.

4. Take a Class

Pursuing educational opportunities can help job seekers grow their knowledge in a new field. Options include taking evening classes at a local college, completing an online course or attending seminars. Job seekers can work with a career coach or consult professional groups in a field of interest for suggestions.

Job seekers should also determine if their desired career path requires formal education — such as an undergraduate or master’s degree — and factor it into their plans.

5. Find Ways to Upgrade Skills

Job searchers should look for ways to develop their skills in a new industry. Doing so can boost their resumes and cover letters for job applications. Some examples include:

  • Doing part-time work.
  • Volunteering.
  • Completing an internship.
  • Taking college courses.
  • Completing online training or certification programs.

6. Rebrand 

Personal rebranding can better equip job seekers for a new career. Someone looking to change careers should consider how their previous experiences have made them an ideal candidate for their desired role.

They can then use these experiences to convey why they’re a good fit through their business networking sites, resume and cover letter. They should also update personal websites, business cards and other relevant resources to reflect their new brand.

7. Use Networking

Job seekers can leverage networking to find job opportunities. They should consider industries and positions of interest when finding professionals to contact. Additionally, networking can help them find shadowing, volunteering or internship opportunities.

8. Highlight Transferable Skills

When shifting careers, it’s important to spotlight transferable skills in job applications, resumes and interviews. After finding a position of interest, job seekers can take the time to craft a compelling application and emphasize transferable skills. If a job seeker doesn’t have experience in their desired industry, they can play up these skills with a hybrid or functional resume format.

Jumpstart Your New Career at Danaher

Jumpstart Your New Career at Danaher

If you’re looking to succeed in a new role or industry, turn to Danaher. We’ll help you identify new career paths, develop a plan to achieve your goals and unlock your true potential. Learn more about how we can help jumpstart your career by visiting our careers blog or joining our Talent Community!

Check out open roles across Danaher or join our talent community today.