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How to Transition Into a New Career

There are multiple steps you can take to ensure a successful career change.

On average, people now approaching retirement held 12 different jobs between the ages of 18 and 54.1 While some switched jobs within the same industry, many others switched careers. It’s part of the modern employment experience, and it’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Which means that if you’re thinking about a career change, you’re not alone.

How to Transition Into a New Career

But thinking about a change and completing a successful transition are two different things. Here are five steps you can take to help ensure a rewarding career transition:

  1. Make Sure It’s a Good Fit
    Being unsatisfied with your current career doesn’t mean you’ll be any more satisfied with your next one. Before you make a move, fully research the new career you’re considering and think deeply about whether or not it will fulfill you. Some good questions to ask yourself include:

    • What are my long-term goals?
    • Does this career offer a path to fulfilling them?
    • Do I have the natural talents to be successful in this career?
    • What role do I see myself playing in this field?
    • Will this career offer me the opportunity to advance and grow?
    • Does this career choice offer work-life balance?
    • What are the drawbacks of this career, and can I handle them?
    • What will I have to give up to transition to this new career, and is that worth it?
  2. Customize Your Résumé
    Your résumé or curriculum vitae (CV) is probably designed for the career you’re currently in. That needs to change if you want to change careers. To modify your résumé or CV, employment experts suggest you think about where your educational and job experience intersect with the required skills for your new career. For example, if you want to move from a career in the legal field to a career in advertising, you can highlight your extensive experience making persuasive arguments, your ability to meet deadlines, and any experience you have leading teams and managing complex projects.

    On the education side, you should consider individual online classes you took for your bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program and whether any of them tie into your new career. In many cases, the general classes you took as part of your postsecondary education can relate to a wide variety of careers. You also may have relevant coursework from courses you took at a School of Lifelong Learning or in earning a professional certificate.

  3. Broaden Your Search
    Finding a job in a new career field is likely to take some time. However, you can improve your chances of finding the position you want if you cast a wide net. Some of the best methods for finding a new job include:

    • Networking: Contact everyone you know in the career field you want to switch to. Let them know your plans and ask for their help. Take advantage of your LinkedIn network to find connections with people in your preferred career field.
    • Recruiters: Employment agencies, staffing firms, and headhunters can help you connect with employers who may be seeking your skills.
    • Professional associations: Many professional associations offer job listings. You’ll likely have to join the association to have access.
    • Alumni associations: Your university’s alumni association may offer career services that include job listings, networking sources and tips, and résumé resources.
    • Job search sites: There are a number of sites specializing in job postings. Popular options include Indeed, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor, and Monster.
  4. Further Your Education
    If you don’t have the requisite education or skills for the new career you want, consider earning a degree or a graduate certificate. Colleges and universities around the country offer a wide variety of college degree and graduate certificate programs. Just make sure when you conduct a college search that you only include schools with accreditation, as most employers prefer degrees from accredited universities.

  5. Choose Online Education
    Online learning makes transitioning to a new career a real possibility for working adults. That’s because you can take online courses from home instead of driving to a campus, and work when and where it’s convenient for you. Earning a degree online makes it possible to continue to work and enjoy your personal life while furthering your education. That’s a huge advantage in gaining the skills and credentials you need for transitioning into a new career.

Walden University, a leader in distance education for more than 50 years, offers online certificate programs, as well as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. It also has a School of Lifelong Learning, where you’ll find hundreds of online courses that can help provide the knowledge and skills you need to transition into a new career.

Discover learning opportunities in education, counseling, business and management, data science and technology, health, and psychology. With the variety and flexibility that online learning provides, transitioning to a new career is a real possibility for working professionals everywhere.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering graduate certificate programs, as well as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,