Why You Probably Don’t Have To Go Back To School To Change Careers


Laura Simms


Having to go back to school is a big fear for many people who want to change careers.

The assumption is that because you’ve been doing the same thing for a while and have no other skills, you’d need to get another degree to make the switch to a career you’d love.

But you can’t take time away from your life to go back to school for a couple of years. And how would you afford it? Plus, you just don’t wanna. It sounds like a LOT of work, and not the kind of thing you want to be doing right now.

So instead of trying to find a better career, you decide to tough it out in the one you’re in, even though you know you can’t hold out there much longer and will bounce to a similar or worse job, or eventually become so disengaged that you get fired.

Think you have to go back to school to change careers? Think again.

What if I told you that you probably don’t have to go back to school to get into more into a meaningful career?

It’s true. Of course it all depends on your current education/experience and the career you want to move into. If you want to practice surgery, law, or something else that requires board certification, please go back to school 😃

But most career changes do not require a new degree.

In my 9 years of working with career change clients, about 3% have gone back to school.

Here are some real-life examples from my clients of alternatives to going back to school:

* Brit wanted to go from being a self-employed social media strategist to a journalist. Instead of going back to school to get a degree in journalism, she took a summer intensive on documentary studies and now works in public radio. The intensive was much shorter and affordable than a college degree.

* Kathleen was eager to leave her glorified administrative assistant position for the chance to dig into a marketing role where she would have more autonomy and get to do a combo of creative and analytical work. She was able to get certified in a software she needed to know at her new employer’s expense.

* Nicole wanted to leave her tech company to go into event design. Instead of going back for a business or design degree (or both), she asked around to figure out what skills she would need and acquired them through a combination of taking small classes and on-the-job training at a floral design studio. Her own small business is now booking weddings all in its own.

These options took 3-15 months, and cost $0-$10,000. $10,000 may still be more than you want to spend, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper (and way faster) than a new degree. And that $0 option might be in your future!

Don’t let fear of going back to school stop you from pursuing a meaningful career. Chances are, you won’t need to.

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