By Eric Garneau
Earn a Degree
It's no less true in your adult life than when you were fresh out of high school that an education can provide a major key to career advancement. According to U.S. News and World Report, you can often further your job status by earning a relevant 4-year bachelor's degree, 2-year associate's degree or 1-year certificate. The specific program you'll want to enroll in depends on your field of interest. For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that nursing jobs are expected to see significant growth over the next few years. To capitalize on that, you could earn a 4-year Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from a traditional university or a 2-year associate's degree from a community college, or you could undertake a 3-year nursing diploma program at a hospital.
If you don't want to leave your job and are worried about finding enough time, you can take solace in the fact that often these degree programs are available online as well. That allows you to structure your classes around your schedule; you don't have to stop working in order to earn a degree. If this sounds appealing to you, you may first want to check the BLS's outlook for your desired career. If it's favorable, do some poking around the Internet and research relevant programs at local schools. A college degree might be the thing you need to kick-start a new phase of your career!
Gain Experience and Test the Waters
Just like with college students, there are several ways for adults to gain work experience before committing to a career. For example, the website Urbaninterns.com exists solely to connect employers with professionals looking for freelance work, part-time work or even internships. According to Lindsay Pollak, author of Getting from College to Career, such a site is truly helpful for people considering a career switch but who don't want to completely commit.
Along those lines, those considering a job change might also investigate the company VocationVacations. Started in 2004, that organization's goal is to help individuals 'test-drive the job of their dreams.' Clients of the company get to experience one of 125 careers risk-free under the tutelage of a professional mentor. A trial-run like that can really help ease one's fears about a mid-life career transition. It may not put you in a new job all by itself, but it does allow you to answer the question of whether you'll be happy if you make that move.
If you're thinking about returning to the college experience, you might consider checking out this free online education option.