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


Laura Simms


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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.

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.

Laura Simms is an expert in meaningful work who challenges conventional wisdom by asking people to ditch their passions and start with purpose.

If you have too many passions, zero passions, or can't seem to combine your passions, try her purpose-first approach to find a career you love.  


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