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How to Make Your Career Change Dream Into Reality

Depending upon the magnitude of your change, shifting your current career may take a few months or a few years or more to execute. Transitioning into a new functional area or industry (e.g., from being a teacher to a corporate trainer or from technology to healthcare) requires thought work and a series of action steps. Consider the following initiatives:

Determine What Additional Education, Training and/or Experience You May Need

First, you must determine if the role you seek is one that you currently qualify for or whether it requires additional training, education and/or experience that ultimately will lead you to the end goal.

If additional education is required, then you must be realistic about the outcome of that education.

For example, perhaps you are an administrative assistant aspiring for career advancement into management, and you return to school for your MBA. Thinking you can add MBA to your resume and suddenly interview for management roles or that you deserve a salary increase may set you up for disappointment.

Or, perhaps you are a healthcare administrator who received your Master of Public Health or a project manager who garnered your Master of Technology. You read that adding these specialty credentials to your toolkit equals an automatic bump up in pay.

Prove Your New Knowledge Through Experience and Results

While the odds of gleaning a salary increase may rise with the addition of training and education, the fact is there are no guarantees. Moreover, education is only one part of the equation. You must be willing to prove that you actually can employ the new skills and abilities in a way that contributes to your current or future employer’s bottom line.

In other words, you must show your degree or training in action.

To do so, you may first need to apply your newfound knowledge in your current role or perhaps you will take on a volunteer or side role that builds experience muscle from your classroom training. It also may be that you are willing to accept an entry-level role in your new area of expertise before rising through the ranks toward your intended new goal.

Perform in a Residency-type Role to Advance Toward Ultimate Goals

Even for those studying for very lucrative careers; e.g., for people who return to school to become a physician, for example, the ramp up to achieve the ultimate financial rewards often is a period of years. You don’t just graduate from medical school and earn a six-figure salary. You must first perform as an intern or resident, at a lower salary level, but with the expectation that if you work hard, one day you will be earning the dreamed-about physician’s compensation.

Similarly, rerouting your current career path may require you test-drive your newly learned skills in a residency-style role whereby you are practicing your skill at a salary below the level you ultimately aspire to achieve. Your goal will be to advance your salary alongside your experience and achievements.

However you do it, before you inquire about that raise or seek that promotion, you should show (not just tell) that you can perform at a more advanced level or in a new functional area.

Making a career transition requires give and take, patience and determination. Employing these traits and action steps will increase the likelihood of career change success!