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How to successfully transition into a new career without starting over

You’ve put so much time and effort into your career so far. You’re respected, you know what you do inside and out – you’d hate to have to start from scratch again. One of the scariest things about considering a move into a totally new field is the thought of being a beginner again.

Here are her top three tips for pulling off a mid-life career change without starting over:

  1. Find a focus

The first step in changing careers is figuring out what you really want to be doing — what moves you?

One way to explore new careers is by requesting informational interviews in professions or businesses that appeal to you. This is a great chance to learn about a new line of work while getting a sense of what someone does every day.

  1. Make sure you have the right credentials

Once you’ve identified a target job, determine what it will take to get there (generally it’s stated in the job description, so read those carefully!).

A college degree will open a lot of doors for you, and keep in mind that it can also help you command a higher salary. A recent Pew Research Center study found that workers with a college degree make $17,500 more per year than those without.

But finding the time to get a degree can be challenging. Luckily, online education has evolved to meet the schedule of any student — lectures and coursework are available at the click of a mouse.

Many online college programs are competency-based, which means students can receive credit for skills and experiences they already have. Each lesson begins with a pre-test and students can test out of a lesson completely if they demonstrate a mastery of the subject.

  1. Brush up on your writing skills

Contrary to popular belief, writing skills are mandatory for almost any job out there. In a job market crazed with emails and tweets, proper grammar has never been more important. If I see a typo on any job application, it’s going directly into the “no” pile.

You may think you’re a good writer, but writing on the job can be very different from composing personal emails or updating Facebook. Employers want to hire someone who can prepare a strategy document, write a new business email, or serve as a professional voice to clients and customers. Consider courses that can help you improve your writing portfolio.

A career change can’t be a mere impulsive decision. You are risking your life’s work, experience, finances and most importantly, your future upon this transition, so you need to make sure that you understand even the smallest consequence. Before you decide to take the leap, spend time researching upon how you can turn this change to your advantage and how you can benefit of it financially and holistically.

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