degree-of-interest: College of Professional Studies

Navigating Career Shifts: How College of Professional Studies Empowers Adult Learners

Men shaking hands over new career or job offer.

You are ready to take your career in an exciting new direction. Perhaps you envision yourself stepping into a leadership role — or maybe you’ve uncovered a fascinating new niche or specialty. You might even crave a completely different career path.

No matter which changes you foresee, or how you hope to pursue them, you can benefit from pursuing a curated education in which your personal and professional goals are front and center.

Understanding the Motivation Behind Career Shifts

In today’s dynamic workforce, career changes are to be expected. People are not stagnant, nor is our fast-paced economy; so it is only natural for professionals to pursue new opportunities as their interests, passions, or skills evolve.

This is an increasingly common desire, as evidenced by a report from FlexJobs, in which over half of respondents highlight an immediate interest in making career changes. Reasons differ, but FlexJobs senior content manager Jessica Howington explains the desire for change is driven, in part, by the simple reality that “professionals around the world have shifted the way they think about work.”

From your perspective, of course, this shift may not simply represent your involvement in a cultural phenomenon but rather a much-needed change in direction after experiencing workplace circumstances that you do not find ideal. Determining your why can make a major difference as you embark on this exciting professional journey.

Reasons for a Shift in Career

There is no one reason to embark on a new career path, and the motivations behind these shifts are as diverse as career opportunities themselves. Often, however, the desire for change is sparked by the basic understanding that a current career track is not serving specific needs. This could relate to finances, personal passion, or even the quest for work-life balance. Commonly cited reasons for pursuing different career paths include:

  • Uncovering a new passion or calling
  • Wage stagnation or limited opportunities for advancement
  • Pursuit of greater work-life balance
  • Desire to better utilize high-level skills on the job
  • Life changes such as a new geographic location or becoming a working parent

Finding the Balance Between:3

As you uncover your unique source of motivation to change careers, you may realize that your previous profession offered limited opportunities to achieve financial stability, personal fulfillment, or a blend of the two. This is not an easy balance to strike, but it is possible.

  • Personal fulfillment – Your happiness matters, but in the wrong field or position, it can be difficult to achieve genuine job satisfaction or fulfillment. This means different things to different people but often encompasses the perception of giving back to the community or making a difference for others. Personal fulfillment may also encompass creativity, collaboration, or other forms of skill utilization.
  • Financial considerations – Yes, fulfillment matters — but if finances are a considerable source of stress, how fulfilling will your work truly feel? It is natural to crave job stability and generous wages. However, these do not need to come at the cost of work-life balance or personal passion, as many intriguing positions also happen to offer excellent earning opportunities.

Identifying Enjoyable High-Paying Careers

If you are committed to finding a career path that offers both sustainable wages and personal fulfillment, it’s time to do a little soul-searching. Your priority is determining where the ideal intersection of fulfillment and economic advancement exists and how these priorities align with your skill set, your experience, and your interests.

How to Find Your Enjoyable Career

As you explore career options, reflect on your past experiences. What did you enjoy about your previous occupation? What did you find problematic? These insights can help you determine which fields align best with your preferences and passions.

For example, if you are highly analytical but did not enjoy the lack of collaboration in a previous field, you may be well-suited to business intelligence or other fields that blend data-driven practices with collaborative initiatives. Maybe you are creative but also want to earn a comfortable income, in which case marketing could be an amazing fit.

Numerous resources can provide powerful insights into what you want from a career and which fields align with those priorities. Consider using the FOCUS 2 career exploration program to learn more about potential fields and relevant college degrees.

High-Paying Options in Different Industries

If lucrative work is a priority, be prepared to get strategic as you investigate various career opportunities. This might call for a unique approach where you first examine the highest-paying positions and then shift your focus to determining which options align best with your interests and priorities.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) can be an excellent resource. The BLS provides in-depth insights into a range of occupations and roles, outlining everything from the anticipated outlook (over the next decade) and current wages. Personal insights can also be helpful, so don’t hesitate to leverage your current network to learn more about various fields and niches.

Strategies for Navigating a Career Shift

Once you have uncovered the ideal career path, you’ll want to identify which skills or credentials you currently lack — and how these gaps might prevent you from finding the job of your dreams. These insights should then drive your next steps in the career transition process. In many cases, the biggest step forward will involve enrolling in a relevant college program.

Exploring Educational and Training Opportunities to Gain New Skills

A revitalized skill set can provide a huge confidence boost as you move into a new field. Targeted college programs offer a deep dive into relevant concepts while also helping you build highly transferable skills. Along the way, you could take part in experiential and immersive learning opportunities that help you apply new skills in practical settings. Some Universities offer certificate programs that allow you to focus on a specific skill set in a shorter time frame.

Networking for Jobs in New Fields

Networking is essential across all fields, but how you network may differ depending on your sector and your professional goals. Unfortunately, the network you’ve worked so hard to build these last several years may no longer cut it as you seek new career opportunities. This is a great time to adjust your approach and to build connections in a different field.

There are a number of ways to adjust your networking approach, but enrolling in a relevant college program is arguably the easiest path to networking success; through college coursework, you will be continually exposed to many like-minded students and, more importantly, interact extensively with faculty members who are among the most influential leaders in their respective fields.

Challenges and Overcoming Obstacles During Your Transition

Challenges are to be expected as you embark on a dramatically different career path. Many of these difficulties will be personal: facing a general fear of the unknown, for example, or adapting to different workplace cultures or attitudes after you have grown comfortable with a particular field or professional community. Other obstacles may include:

  • Limited time to dedicate to skill development
  • Financial concerns related to your potential new field or training to enter that field
  • Negative feedback or doubt from friends or family members
  • The potential for rejection when seeking new job opportunities

If you are worried about any of the above, reflect on which obstacles are most significant and what solutions might be available. Mentors or advisors can help you navigate these concerns.

Ideas for Jobs: Exploring Diverse Career Options

Still struggling to pinpoint the right career or sector? A little inspiration can make a world of difference. To help, we’ve outlined awesome occupations worth considering, especially if you are determined to find a job that does it all: delivers personal fulfillment, strong wages, work-life balance, and opportunities for advancement.

Diverse Job Ideas That Combine Personal and Financial Goals

Many fields promise to fulfill your most ambitious career objectives, but opportunities are especially abundant (and exciting) in these sectors:

  • Accounting – Ideal for analytical and highly ambitious professionals, accounting is a rapidly growing field that includes several cutting-edge niches. Interested in leadership opportunities? Management accounting could be in your future.
  • Information technology – Providing powerful opportunities to blend technical acumen with soft skills and leadership development, IT programs prepare students for the most exciting career paths of tomorrow.
  • Marketing management – If you have a creative mindset but also hope to develop practical skills, marketing management could offer the best of both worlds. This is a growing field that calls for innovative thinkers.

Practical Tips for a Successful Career Transition

You have decided that a new career path will serve you well and uncovered the perfect field to enter or a compelling position to pursue. The practicalities of pursuing this shift, however, may seem complex or overwhelming. These steps and suggestions should help:

  • Establish a timeline of goals and transition – How soon do you want to enter a new field? Are you willing to remain in your current position as you complete online or part-time college coursework — or would you rather make a fresh start soon?
  • Find guidance with a mentor – Every professional can benefit from working with a mentor. This is an especially key resource when navigating a career shift, as mentors can provide valuable insight into the realities of specific fields, not to mention ongoing support and motivation as you deal with inevitable obstacles.
  • Determine your financial cushion – With a strong plan in place, you can start examining the practicalities of your career transition. Your current financial situation will play heavily into your college trajectory, so think carefully about how you will cover the cost of tuition or handle essential expenses if you temporarily take a step back from the work world. Scholarship opportunities abound, so look closely at financial aid options, and don’t be afraid to discuss your situation with a financial aid counselor.

How a Professional Studies Program Can Help

If you need extra support or accountability as you move toward a new career path, consider enrolling in a career-driven degree program. Carson-Newman’s College of Professional Studies offers several compelling options for driven students, including online, hybrid, and flexible coursework that meets the unique needs of already-employed professionals. You will find our coursework not only helpful from a career perspective but also personally compelling and meaningful.

Ready to take the next step toward a rewarding career shift? Explore your options and gain the skills you need with the College of Professional Studies at Carson-Newman. Whether you’re looking to transition into a new field or advance in your current career, our programs offer the tools and support you need to succeed. Find your place, path, and purpose to unlock new opportunities with Carson-Newman.

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