worker using tablet to change career

How to Change Careers and Reach Your Goals

13th September 2023

Since the pandemic, the UK job landscape has changed. Workers are demanding more benefits, more remote working, better work-life balance, more meaningful work, more job satisfaction to meet their short and long term goals. If you are considering joining one of the many UK career changers in 2023, then read on to find out when it’s the right time to change career path, career change ideas, and how to change careers.

When to make the career change

You’ll know when the time is right, not because of market trends but because of how you feel about your current job and the internal pull to a different vocation. Try asking yourself these questions:

  • Do you feel stagnant? Are you in that ‘uncomfortable comfort zone’?
  • Are you looking for a completely different vocation?
  • Would you want your manager’s job?

It’s never too late to start a new career, whether you’re considering a career change at 40 or older. Think of it this way, at the age of 40 you still have more than 20 years of professional life ahead of you. Many of our past students juggle family and their current jobs with learning through our distance learning degrees, so it doesn’t mean compromising your other life commitments.

Career Change Ideas

Ask yourself what type of career change you want. Do you want more job satisfaction from serving your community? Consider a career in education or healthcare. Perhaps one of the key topics of the moment interests you such as mental health or sustainability. You may possess transferable skills that could  enhance your potential for a new career in business or as a project manager.

How to change careers

Changing careers requires patience and perseverance while you research career options, set career goals and follow an action plan over the long term. Here’s our 10-step guide for switching up your professional life.

1. Ask yourself why you want to change your career

It could be because you want better work-life balance. If so, what does that look like? More remote working? Term-time only? Part time work? 

It could be because you want to be your own boss, or you dream of a job that makes a difference to other peoples’ lives. It could be because you feel stagnant in your current role and hanker for change. 

Whatever the reasons, keep them in mind as you research through career change ideas, and work through your action plan. You’ll need to remind yourself of the big WHY as you work through the HOW to keep you going.

2. Ask yourself what the obstacles will be

Write down a list of obstacles you may encounter and look at how to resolve them right from the get-go. That way they won’t impede your momentum or deter you from achieving your new career goals

Here are some obstacles you may face and possible solutions:

  • How will I find the time to upskill and receive the necessary additional education, while I still work/look after the kids? Consider upskilling through online learning which is becoming increasingly popular and provides the flexibility that allows people to balance learning with life.
  • How will I fund my chosen course? If it’s higher education you’re considering, there are lots of funding solutions including undergraduate and postgraduate student loans, and instalment plans. If it’s another type of course such as a college course, look at Advanced Learner Loans.
  • I’m worried about what my family and peers will think. It’s true that you may start a new career at an entry level position and so your job status will be lower but think long term. There will be opportunities for progression, competitive salary increases and increasing your expertise to gain respect in a new field. It just takes a little time.
  • Can I go back into the ‘classroom’ as an adult? Lifelong learning is as popular as ever and you’ll find other adults upskilling and gaining new qualifications such as online degrees just like you. You will not be alone.

3. Look at your existing skills

All jobs have specific sector skills, but they will also have transferable soft skills. Look at what transferable skills you have and write them down. They’ll serve as a reminder of what you’re good at when you research different career options, plus you can use the list to match them against the transferable skills needed for new career options.

4. Explore career options and different jobs

Start with desktop research; there are so many resources out there. Here are just a few:

Looking to work in the health sector? Check the NHS website.

You could also take a career quiz such as:

You may also want to check average salaries using Glassdoor, Check a Salary, or Reed.

5. Do you need to upskill?

Speak to qualified careers advisors, connect to people who are employed in the line of work you are interested in. Look at job postings for the same type of job roles, they should say what qualifications you need. 

Once you have an idea of the type of qualifications or training you need, research where you can get that training or qualification, making sure that it will lead to your desired career goal. You can do this through UCAS or a search engine. Once you have courses in mind, speak to the lecturers or course advisors. 

6. Create an action plan

This could include some of the next steps. An action plan will help keep you on course and provide you with a list of all the actions you need to take to get to your career goal. It’s a good way of noting down and remembering all the ‘sub-actions’ as well; for example, not just ‘take undergraduate degree in XYZ’ but also apply, secure funding, enrol etc.

7. Work shadowing or voluntary work

Organise work shadowing or voluntary work in your chosen field. It’s a way of ensuring it’s the career for you before committing to upskilling and giving up your job. It’s also a great way to make connections in that field. They’ll provide valuable insights and may even result in opportunities in the future.

8. Get qualified

Getting qualified for a career switch could mean a time commitment of more than one year with undergraduate degrees often three years plus, and for many people walking away from their current job’s salary is just not possible. Online degrees are often taught part time so learning can fit around your life commitments. That’s certainly been the experience of ARU distance learning alumni, who share their tips on getting the most from distance learning.

9. Update your career assets

With your new career path and qualifications in mind, it’s time to update your CV, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. Make sure you include your transferable skills and any relevant life experience. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the connections you made during your research and work shadowing steps to let them know you’re now qualified and looking for suitable opportunities.

10. Don’t give up

You may feel like you’re fresh out of university or school again, qualified but without work experience when you apply for jobs. You may get rejected several times but don’t give up. Just like you did with your first job, you will get that break. Then there’ll be nothing stopping you.