7 Tips to Help Change Careers

Not everybody finds their dream job right out of school. Sometimes we do what we must to pay the bills. Sometimes we may think that we've found the perfect place, but something happens. Maybe we get bored with the work, or ownership of the company changes and we don't like the new direction they're taking, or perhaps we just want to build something of our own or try something new.

In any event, most of us come to a point in our lives, perhaps several times, where we feel that a change is needed if we're going to continue to challenge ourselves. Changing careers can seem daunting, and it isn't easy, but it is possible. Here are seven tips to switch careers:

1. Consider Moonlighting

Depending on how demanding your new career is, you may want to consider moonlighting at it for some time. This will accomplish a few things. First, it will help you to learn whether or not that new career is really something that you're willing to dedicate a lot of time to. Second, you will have the stability of your current job to support you while you pursue new opportunities. Finally, if all you need is new challenges, moonlighting can help you to experience that without having to go all in right away.

2. Start Something New

One of the biggest challenges to switching careers is that not all kinds of trust will transfer. You may prove yourself a capable programmer and a reliable worker, but does that matter to the head chef at an Italian restaurant when you tell him that you want to learn the ropes as his Sous-Chef? Hoping that someone will pick you for a position that you have little to no professional experience in is foolish. On the other hand, nobody can stop you from starting a food blog or writing a cook book.

3. Learn Your Craft

So you want to quit your engineering job and become a writer. Well, just know that there is as much to learn about writing as there is about engineering. It may not all be quite as deeply technical, and mistakes you make as a writer might not be quite so unforgiving, but if you want to learn any craft, you need to be willing to take it seriously. Others make it look easy, sure, but that's what they say about people who do what you do, too.

4. Explore

When you're in an exploratory phase, when you have the time, space and energy to explore a new career path, don't squander it just jumping right into a second job. Explore various options and find out what interests you before making the leap.

5. Don't Quit Until You're Ready

Leaving a rewarding career for a chance at another is dangerous. If you don't have the training for your new career path, if you haven't so much as tried your hand at the skills it demands, you're abandoning security on a "maybe." Obviously, we can't be sure of much in life, but you should step into your new career a foot at a time if you can help it, not with one big blind jump.

6. Build on the Trust and Experience That Transfers

A programmer might not necessarily make a great Sous-Chef, an engineer might not necessarily make a great writer, but some of your trust and experience will transfer. If you can manage a team of programmers, you can use that in managing a kitchen. If you can build an electric car, you can probably build a cohesive story.

7. Live Beneath Your Means

Finally, live beneath your means. If you simply cannot survive without your current salary, then you will never have the freedom needed to switch careers unless you can find a starting-level position that pays as well as your current job. We all like to imagine that we'd gladly take a 50% pay-cut or more in order to follow our dreams, but how many of us are willing to prove it?