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I often speak to prospective career-changers who are mid or late into their working lives and they all ask the question, “But isn’t it too late for me to change careers?” The good news is, it’s never too late, particularly in this new climate of lifelong learning!

4 things to consider if you are thinking about a career change

Self-Awareness

Start by dedicating some time to consider what your work “why” is. Your work “why” involves exploring your motivations and determining what is important to you. Career planning is a lifelong process because life is constantly evolving – what might be priorities to your 20-year-old self, could be very different at 40.

Understanding your strengths and the elements of work you enjoy most will help provide career direction that will be fulfilling, expand on your potential, and provide greater job satisfaction. This was the case for truckie turned oral health therapist, Samantha Barbeler, who in 2019 pivoted from her career in the coal industry. 

“I absolutely loved working in the coal mine, but I wanted to plan for the future,” Samantha says. “I knew that if I were to ever start a family, working away and living at a mining camp would make that difficult. So, I started thinking of other jobs that I could do.” After reflecting on her time working as a Dental Assistant in her youth, Samantha recalled how much she loved the variety of the role and the patients, and realised that oral health career was the path for her.

Occupation Awareness

Thinking about making a career change can be overwhelming when there are so many different job options and emerging occupations to consider. Additionally, pandemic disruption has caused significant changes to the job landscape. Skills shortages are on the rise with a recent federal Infrastructure Australia report (Oct 2021) that anticipated skilled job shortages could rise to around 100,000 by 2023.

If a new profession sparks your interest, do your homework on exactly what each occupation entails, including the typical tasks and responsibilities you would expect to perform in the role to help you make informed decisions.

Decision Making

Time to weigh up all the information that you know about yourself and the occupations you have researched to make decisions about the most suitable career path for you. Some people may be required to upskill to bridge specific skill gaps. It is important to ensure you choose education providers that will support career goals that are recognised by industry and provide accreditation where required.

Further study is a great way to start a career change, like Stephanie Pasco who transitioned from a fitter and turner to engineer, and is now continuing her study to become a doctor. She started her career shift by enrolling in a Bachelor of Medical Science with aspirations to continue into medicine.

“I completed my trade as a fitter and turner working at the local power station. It was a great experience, but I was interested to learn more and further myself,” Stephanie says.  “I had kind of fallen into engineering because of my trade, however, my lifelong dream has always been to be a doctor”. 

Action Planning

The final step in the career planning process is to create an action plan. This is the time to start putting steps into place that should identify your short-term and long-term goals. In your action plan, you can identify education and training requirements to ensure that you can enrol in your identified course, develop a job search strategy, identify potential employers or prepare for future job applications. 

Making the decision to explore further learning opportunities or a change in careers can be a daunting and exciting journey. Be mindful that nothing happens overnight, but it is an investment in your future.

And if you’re still not sure, consider this – if you look back on today in three years’ time, will you regret not having started sooner?

Julie Holmes, Careers Coordinator at CQUniversity

Julie Holmes is CQUniversity’s Careers Coordinator with 10 years of experience in career guidance and consultation across tertiary education, secondary education, community and employment service settings. The CQUni Careers team supports prospective, current and graduate CQUniversity students in achieving their career development and professional aspirations through career education, guidance and information. CQUni Careers are about building employability and job search skills as students prepare to be work-ready in their chosen careers.