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Five Steps to a Better Career

Loans, Student Loans

So, you’re ready for a new beginning—a new career, and a better one at that.  However, with student debt reaching the one trillion dollar mark this past year and the boom in media coverage of the student debt crisis, it’s easy to understand why anyone would shy away from higher education.  For many, it’s not the learning that hurts as much as the bill afterwards.

NerdWallet recently released a study on projected high growth careers—jobs growing 25% or faster over the next decade—and found that occupations requiring an Associate’s Degree have the highest average growth rate.   That’s two years worth of learning for a new career that can last the rest of your life.  Here are the steps you should take to find a new career that’s right for you:

1. Explore Potential Careers

Job Security:

If you’re going to invest in a new career, you’ll want to know that there’s a good probability that there’s a job waiting for you at the end of the finish line.  Job Security is a major contributor to job satisfaction.  You can see the job growth for particular jobs up to 2020 using the BLS occupational handbook.

Average Salary:

What good is a new job if you’re not happy with the pay?  Many workers seeking a new career dream of providing more for themselves and their families.  It’s best to know your facts up front and know what kind of life to expect after training.  You can type in your potential occupation into any job search website to see what the average salary is.

 2. Research Potential Career Skills and Work Environment

It’s been long known that a ‘good’ job is often subjective, but a key element recognized even by the BLS is that the day-to-day tasks and the environment play a big part in how one evaluates the quality of a job. Are you ok staying on your feet for the majority of your workday?  Are you ok with interacting with patients?  Everyone has his or her own strengths—it’s important to know which jobs will help you build on those strengths.

A great way to understand a job is to try to find accounts of the day-to-day life online, or to find someone in that occupation in your personal network.  A brief informational interview or just chatting with them about the pros and cons of their job can be enlightening and far better than reading a job description.

3. Identify Educational Institutions that match your career goals

Where you obtain your education is a personal decision.  You’ll be investing your time and money into this this degree—it’s important to find a school with staff and faculty that will do the same.

A couple of factors you should check with potential educational institutions are whether graduates have been able to find jobs.  Are they marketable candidates for jobs after obtaining his or her degree?

Prospective students also need to be aware of scheduling issues.  Make sure that you have the time to take the classes when they are offered or perhaps research night class options or other alternative scheduling to adapt to a working schedule.

4. Speak to Advisors at Educational Institutions

Advisors are the best FAQ source—they’ve seen every problem, dealt with hundreds of students and know the processes within their school system.  One of the key features you’ll want to find out from advisors is the support you’ll be able to receive as a student within the school.

Find out how many financial aid advisors they have, if they have a career center and how many career advisors they have.  Further, find out how students access these resources.  Is a physical one-on-one appointment the only way to get your questions answered?  Or is there an online forum or method that would be easier?

Is there a career center?  What type of services do they offer?  Does the school host job fairs or help with career placement?  Will they review your resume?  Manu schools offer great support for their students, but it is on you to go out and take advantage of the opportunities.

5. Calculate the costs and Find out Financial Aid possibilities

You can find out the cost of tuition, the average cost of books, and any other expenses directly from a school.  Financial constraints can be one of the biggest hurdles for those pursuing a degree. Many students will take a break or stop completion of a degree completely due to personal or financial hardships.  So, before you send in your enrollment forms, it’s best to have a good understanding of the costs for school and a plan for tuition.

Financial Aid can be from the federal government, the state or from the school itself.  To obtain federal aid, you’ll have to fill out the FAFSA and send it in.  Each state has a different set of instructions and deadlines for financial aid.  It’s best to speak to the Financial Aid advisor at your institution to get a better idea of what type of aid you could qualify for based on your particular circumstances.

Once you’ve run through the 5 steps, it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether sending in those enrollment forms is best for you.  Switching to a brand new career can be a lot of work, so it’s important to do your homework—but the benefits could last a lifetime – literally. These 5 steps are a great starting point to put you on a pathway to a new career.