After being unemployed for months or years, many people have turned to retrain from a new career. Is this the right course for you?
When a job search is unsuccessful for months on end, or even for years, sometimes you have to do something drastic – like a career change. A recent study by Rutgers’ Heldrich Center for Workforce Development shows some grim statistics for the most recent group of unemployed workers that the study followed, who had found re-employment by November 2010:
- 29% were out of work for 1-2 years
- 41% took a new job in a new field or career
- 20% of all re-employed workers took a class or training course for skills to get a new job
How much did the retraining help them in finding a job? Unfortunately, the study does not address that factor. So it is up to you to analyze the potential benefits of retraining for a career change. To help you do so, this report will look at possible advantages and disadvantages and suggest some issues for you to consider in deciding whether to take on a retraining program for a new career.
Advantages of Retraining for a New Career
May find a career you like: Maybe you haven’t been as satisfied or happy with your career as you expected, or as you used to be. It could be the time to find a new career that you can enjoy. Maybe you should take advantage of this career roadblock to shift into work that would be even more satisfying.
Possibility of better pay: Retraining in a new field could lead to a new career that will eventually pay better than you have been making. It will take time to reach that level, but the career shift might eventually pay off financially.
Maybe better positioned for the future: Retraining could enable you to qualify for a career that will be more of interest in the future. It is critical to investigate and choose a new career path that has a promising future.
Disadvantages of Retraining for a New Career
May take time and money: Training may be as simple as taking some online classes or may require returning to school for more prolonged training. In the latter case, it is likely to cost significant money and time out while you are not earning.
May have to start at the bottom in a new career: Retraining in a new career will probably mean starting at the entry-level unless you can apply your experience and training to the new career. It will take time to build up to higher levels, with the associated pay and benefits.
Questions to Ask Yourself
How much do you like what you were doing? If you enjoyed your career, maybe you should hold out or take a temporary job until something opens up for you or a lower-paying job in your field. If you were not completely satisfied with your work, you should investigate other possibilities and consider changing careers to something you can love.
Do you expect your career to resurge? If you have enjoyed your career, it is crucial to investigate the prospects of that career. A good website for this is O*Net. If your research indicates that your occupation will be in less demand in the future, you should strongly consider changing careers. Look for a career that will be in high demand now and in the future.
How many more years do you expect to work? If you only plan five or six more years of work-life, there may be little reason to retrain for a new career – unless there is a job you would love to have. If you have ten or more experience of work ahead, retraining is more feasible.
Will the new career offer adequate pay and benefits? You have to expect to start on the bottom rung in a new career unless you have qualifications that will jump you ahead. On the other hand, the Rutgers study cited above showed that workers who did not change careers and eventually found jobs in their field ended up making a significantly lower salary than before layoff, anyway.
How much time and money can you invest in retraining? The cost of retraining can vary considerably. A few online courses to retrain you for a “green” job in a field related to what you were doing may cost little time and money. Returning to school to acquire a degree in law or physical therapy may require two or three years.
Retraining Can Boost a New Career
Unemployment can be devastating, especially when the job search continues month after month and even for years. It takes a fee on your finances, your self-esteem, and your marriage and family. It is hard to know when to cut bait and seek out a new career. Take the time to thoroughly assess your options before deciding on your future career path. If and when you decide that it is time to change careers, you should strongly consider retraining. Enhancing your qualifications for the new career will give you your best chance of starting at a higher salary level.