Making a career change can be a challenging decision, particularly when it requires a significant investment of time and money. While not every career shift will require going back to school to acquire further skills or knowledge, in some cases, pursuing additional education or training may be necessary to make a successful transition.
Whether you want to completely change careers or are looking to enhance your existing skill set to try a new role, there are some important factors to consider in deciding whether additional education or training is in order. Here, you can read about 14 situations where members of Forbes Coaches Council would advise clients to consider going back to school to smoothly transition into a new career, and why.
1. You Want To Enhance Your Market Value
While many firms are moving away from degree requirements, having the right qualification can still often make a career move easier. Getting the right credential is worth considering if it makes you more competitive and offers skills you enjoy that enhance your market value. LinkedIn can be helpful to assess your competition. Degrees can also be gateways to graduate pathways and new networks. - Gillian Kelly, Outplacement Australia
2. Graduates Of A Certain Program Land Where You Want To Be
Do a search on LinkedIn for graduates from the program you are considering and see what they are doing. Are you seeing a theme in their roles that reflects what you want to do? Reach out to the graduates from the program and ask if they think it was worth it. Ask them what they know now that they wish they knew before they enrolled, and if there is anything they would do differently. - Lisa Rangel, Chameleon Resumes LLC
3. You Are Making An Industry Shift
Making an industry shift is one situation where getting a Master of Business Administration degree is advantageous. Attaining an MBA has proven to be a reliable approach for my clients to diversify their industries and functions successfully. I have witnessed and facilitated numerous post-MBA transitions, such as from banking to IT product management, from accounting to consulting, and from manufacturing to IT project management. - Shruti Parashar, GOALisB
4. A Degree Is Required To Start On Your New Career Path
The one situation where I would advise a client to consider going back to school is when the new career requires a degree as a prerequisite to starting on that career path. This new career path should also provide a return on investment in a relatively short amount of time. The client can also find an employer who is willing to pay for the new degree to help with the cost of the career transition. - Peju Adedeji, Your IT Career
5. You Are Changing Both Role And Industry
There are different types of career transitions: You can switch roles, organizations or industries. These are pretty straightforward. However, if you are changing your role and your industry, this may require you to go back to school. For example, I went from being a technology leader to becoming an executive coach. I went back to school to study psychology, coaching and neuroscience. - Fabiana Mariano Green, Lead in Life
6. The Field Requires Special Certifications Or Degrees
In highly technical or specialized fields, a formal degree, training or a certification program may be necessary for a candidate to acquire specific skills and prove to employers that they are capable. Professionals looking to shift careers should research positions appealing to them and see which certifications or degrees are required. That information can help guide them to an accredited program. - Michael Timmes, Insperity
7. Education Is Your Best Option Among All Possibilities
Before engaging in a new curriculum, ask yourself a few coach-like questions: Why do I need a new degree? Self-reassurance? Upskilling? Reorientation? Reinvention? Whatever the career move or industry shift is, education is always an option. But don’t hesitate to compare it with other possibilities (such as meeting with professionals and recruiters or doing an internship or pro bono work) in terms of time and cost. - Catherine Tanneau, Activision Coaching Institute
8. Going To School Will Directly Help You Reach Your Goals
Make sure going back to school will directly help you with your goals. Some people go back to school without a purpose and because they need a break. A break is fine, but ask yourself if you can afford education for a non-specific purpose. I think you should go back to school to change careers when there is a clear box that needs to be checked to move forward in your career, or for other specific reasons. - John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
9. You Find Continuing Education Genuinely Energizing
Often, we make a decision because it “sounds like a good idea” versus because it “feels amazing.” As we strategize our way to our goals, we often forsake the most important thing: how we actually feel about it. Yet, everything we want is based on a feeling! For a decision such as this, the heart, not the head, must lead. I’d advocate for going back to school only if you feel genuinely enthralled, energized and expansive about doing it. - Amy Wong, Always On Purpose
10. You Lack A Key Certification Required For The Role
It’s important for coaches to ask powerful questions rather than advise clients on a specific path. This is because obtaining a new degree costs a significant amount of time and money, and it doesn’t guarantee a job. But, if a client chooses to pursue a role that requires a particular certification that they lack, then they should make sure they understand the risks and have the resources to do it. - Savannah Rayat, Rayat Leadership Coaching
11. You Find Fulfillment In Learning From Experts
If it fulfills you, join an education program, or earn a certificate or a degree. You can learn most skills on the job, but if you’d like to learn about artificial intelligence, machine learning or automation from experts, want to understand industry trends in robotics or evaluate elements that may impact the future of work, then by all means enjoy the writings and experiences of others. Technology changes quickly. - Joanne Markow, GreenMason
12. You Need To Develop A New Network
Going back to school is wise when one needs to develop a new network, not just acquire new competencies. Learning environments are great for generating new relationships and conversations, brainstorming ideas and connecting to new possibilities. - Alessandra Marazzi, Alessandra Marazzi GmbH
13. You Need Working Knowledge Of New Disciplines
I advised several of my executive clients to go back to school and learn about AI, data science, machine learning and software development. In my humble opinion, every leader must have a full understanding and working knowledge of how each one of these disciplines functions. In practicing what I preach, I am personally enrolled in these programs, awaiting completion. The impact has been rewarding. - Abraham Khoureis, Dr. Abraham Khoureis
14. You Want To Be Unique In Your Industry
New skills could be pathways to new horizons where you meet new people and work on completely different matters. Maybe earning a Ph.D. in your area of expertise would make you unique in your industry and highlight your name globally. What could make you really happy, and what competencies does it require of you? The answer will also indicate the best direction for further learning. - Dominik Szot, MIA
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