3 Reasons Workers Aren't Changing Careers -- and What to Do About Them

If you're like most workers, there may come a point in your career where you find yourself wondering whether you've actually chosen the right field. In fact, a good 58% of U.S. workers are looking to switch careers, according to a University of Phoenix study. The problem? They're facing barriers they're struggling to overcome.

What's stopping us from changing careers?

It's never easy to leave your job and bounce over to a completely new field. But according to the aforementioned data, here's why most Americans are staying put rather than follow their passion:

  • 29% can't afford to start over in a new career.
  • 24% don't know exactly what they want to do.
  • 24% lack the experience or knowledge needed to switch careers.

Of course, these are some pretty compelling arguments. But if you're really unhappy in your current field, you should know that there are ways to get past these obstacles and land a job that brings you much more satisfaction.

Planning financially for a career change

Nearly one-third of workers interested in a career switch say they're staying put because they can't afford the pay cut. But if you plan for that move accordingly, you'll have more flexibility to manage what will probably be just a temporary drop in income. For example, if you approach that career change with a healthy level of savings, you'll have cash reserves to dip into should your income fail to cover your bills for a year or two.

Imagine you're currently bringing home $4,000 a month but expect that figure to drop by $1,000 once you start over in your new field. If you spend the next year saving aggressively so that you have that much extra in the bank, you'll have the option to absorb that pay cut without having to drastically slash expenses.

Will you end up having to cut expenses eventually? It depends on how long it takes to work your way back up to your former earnings level. But considering that most of us spend the bulk of our waking hours on the job, it's a sacrifice well worth making for a more fulfilling career.

Finding your path

Maybe you know you're dissatisfied in your current field, but aren't really sure of what you want to do. If that's the case, it's time to consider a career counselor. Career counselors aren't therapists; their job isn't to listen to you complain about work, but rather to discover what makes you tick and what you're good at so they can help you enter the most suitable field.

Another option? If you can swing it financially, take a little time out of the workforce and spend it shadowing people in other industries. If you have a friend, for example, who runs an IT company, and you're thinking of getting into that line of work, go through the motions of addressing network outages and software issues, and see whether troubleshooting computer problems is really how you want to spend your days.

Boosting your skill set

If you've held off on switching careers thus far because you feel you lack the skills to move over, it's time to consider investing in your success and happiness. Sometimes, all it takes is the right course or certification to give you the knowledge you need to get into a new line of work, albeit on the ground floor. Furthermore, you should know that there are certain skills out there that make you a strong candidate for any job. For example, if you can prove that you're a strong communicator, a solid team player, and a time management wizard, you might land a job in a field you've never so much as dabbled in before by virtue of those qualities.

Though switching careers is a daunting prospect, it's also an exciting one -- so don't let the above barriers, or any other obstacles, hold you back. You deserve to be happy with what you do, and if that means embracing a major change, so be it.

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