How to Successfully Make a Career Change

When you love where you work and what you do, every day is a reward. It might still be hard and challenging, but if you truly believe in what you are doing, then every challenge is a thrill. Every hardship worth it. Not a lot of careers will offer this, especially if you got into a career when you didn’t truly know what you wanted or who you are.

Many young people fall into this trap. They need more time to explore and figure out what they want to do before they commit to it, and yet at eighteen, they are asked to choose a degree and then find a career.

It is okay if your first go didn’t pan out, or that you realize later on in life, it isn’t what you want to do or not something you enjoy working on. You can use your degree and your experience to enter different industries, or even different education opportunities. You could take a bachelor’s, for example, and then use that to enter an accelerated BSN degree that will allow you to work as a nurse.

Making a big career change like that is daunting, so follow these steps and break down the process with this guide:

Explore Your Passions

Exploring your passions is always worthwhile when you are thinking about a career change. What you love to do, at its core, will always remain constant. How that is translated into a job will change considerably. If you aren’t already dead-set on what you want to do (and even if you are), you will want to explore your passions by volunteering and learning.


Volunteering can give you great hands-on experience in almost any field you are interested in. If you are interested in nursing, then you can volunteer at a hospital, for example. The onboarding process will be tough, but when it comes to really seeing, feeling, and experiencing the type of work-life that nurses live every day, there is no better hands-on method.

Take Online Courses (Free)

You should also look up to see if there are any online courses that you can take. Many of these will be free, with the option to earn certifications later on for a fee. The goal here is to really dip your toe into the kind of knowledge you need to make your career change. If you want to become a nurse, you need to know and love all things healthcare, especially if you dream of furthering your career beyond a level one RN.


Exploring your passion will help you understand whether it is right for you or not. A job like nursing, for example, will be hard, especially while you are building up your experience and credentials before you can then move on to a slower-paced environment.

Build Up Your Qualifications

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
― Nelson Mandela

Regardless of what your situation is, you are going to want to build up your qualifications. An easy, targeted way to do this is through formal education.

For those that are looking to keep their job role, but change industries, an online or short-term course can be all you need to give you the necessary insight into the industry. From there, your experience and skillset will be enough to get your foot through that door.

For others, you will need a degree because the qualifications necessary are non-negotiable. An aspiring nurse cannot take a short course online to prepare them for a job in nursing. You need a BSN to become a registered nurse and to have completed the state HESI exam.

Thankfully though, in the latter scenario, you can still use your existing skill set and knowledge to your advantage by completing an accelerated BSN instead. These types of degrees are designed for non-nurses to kickstart their career by using their existing bachelor’s degree towards their new degree.

If you need qualifications in any subject, always get in touch with the university to see if your existing credits can be used towards your next degree.

Get Your Foot in the Door

Once you have completed those courses or have your degree, then it is time to start the job search. Some routes, like the nursing route, will give you a leg up in this instance. All nursing degrees require clinic hours as a requirement for graduation. You can use these clinic hours to secure yourself a job with that hospital once you graduate and have your state license.

Or alternatively, you can use that experience to secure yourself a job elsewhere. It also helps to change careers to an in-demand industry like healthcare, where a nursing shortage means qualified nurses always have options in their home town.

Work Your Way Up

You won’t be able to get the same level of job right off the bat, and that’s normal. Be willing to start at the bottom and work your way up. Careers like nursing make the path to advancement very simple. For other careers, however, it will be up to you to forge your way forward.

Know What You Want and Work Towards It

As you will be restarting your career in junior-level job, you will need to have a goal so that you can continuously work towards it. This goal can develop and change over time, but by having a vision, you can keep your focus.

In nursing, for example, a general goal can be to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). As you gain experience as an RN, you will become familiar with different areas of medicine and, more importantly, what you want out of your career.

When it is time to complete your MSN, you can then find the right specialization that will allow you to direct your career towards the job role you want. Whether that is in anesthesiology or pediatrics or anything in-between is up to you.

Having a goal keeps you motivated, and will help you stand out and make progress in your new career fast.

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