Previous generations went to work each day, assuming they would stay with their current employer for their entire career and then retire. Over the last few decades, there’s been a steady change in this dynamic; most employees no longer spend their careers at one employer or even in one sector.
The workforce is currently more mobile, and people change positions more frequently. An employee now holds an average of six to ten jobs over a lifetime, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many choose to change positions within the same industry and sector, but others, who feel that a particular career line hasn’t proven fulfilling or economically viable, choose to completely change careers.
Although it is helpful to determine your long-term career goals early, the current state of our economy and work force means that you may decide to do something different as you advance professionally. Whenever you assess or reassess how you want to proceed professionally, you need to take the time to develop your life goals, calculate your desired income level, and hone your skills and interests.
Once you have decided what you’d like to do, one of the best ways to implement your goals is to seek further higher education. Your bachelor’s degree, your work experience and your developed talents are the foundation. A professional certificate or master’s degree program gives you the opportunity to learn practical and professional skills in your chosen industry.
An employer will value an applicant who has both a successful work history and a targeted education in the field in which it is hiring.
Here are three ways that higher education can help you change careers.
1. Growing in Your Field
If you’re working in a sector in which you know you’d like to stay, higher education can help you get to the next level. A master’s degree can provide you with the framework to develop advanced skills, in addition to demonstrating leadership capabilities.
For example, someone who has been working as a police officer can advance in police administration by obtaining a master’s in criminal justice, or a biotech technician can move up the ranks in the life science fields by completing a degree in project management. Additional higher education can enhance your employer’s confidence in you and provide greater opportunity and quicker time frames for your advancement.
2. Growing Your Skills
If you’re working in one field but want to change careers or even sectors, higher education can also be the factor that gets you there. A graduate certificate or degree program can help fill your skills gap between where you are and where you want to be.
Let’s say you’re a marketer, and you realize that technology has become a real driver in the media world. Any switch into the digital realm may require technical and targeted skills you don’t experience in your current job. Going back to school for a master’s in digital media can help you learn the new skills you need to transition into the role you want.
3. Growing Your Scope
An additional degree can also provide you with the base to expand the level and scope of your current position.
Let’s say you’ve been working as an analyst for a company in the United States, and you want to move into the global level. You’ll need to bring an international focus to your existing analytical skills, which can be accomplished with a mater’s degree in global studies and international relations.
Including this advanced degree in your portfolio shows your current or prospective employer that you are serious about your intentions and have acquired the knowledge and skill set to assume this new role and responsibility.
Whether its advancing in your chosen position and field, moving to a new and different career path, or changing the scope of your current job, a certificate or a degree exponentially increases your opportunity and employability. You can proceed with a degree even before you decide which of these pathways is the right career advancement for you. So sharpen those study skills, think strategically about where you want to go in your career and let the learning begin.
How has higher education helped you change or advance your career? Tell us in the comments so you can inspire others and help define the benefits of higher education.