There are many reasons why people decide to change careers. You could be a 20-something who skipped college to go right to work for a company you enjoyed while in high school. You could be a 30-something who has discovered limitations with regard to potential, promotions, or income and you don’t want to be subjected to those limitations. You may be a 40 or 50 something who is unhappy with life and the direction in which you’re going.
Changing careers can be a challenge, to say the least. You need to think about finances, especially when you have a family, children, and other responsibilities. When you’re 18, 20 or even 25, you may be able to tell your boss what he can do with his demands and then take off for another job, even if it takes you a few weeks to find one, but when you’re planning on changing careers, there’s a lot more involved in it.
The Steps to Changing Careers
Changing a career is nothing like changing jobs. You will require a completely unique set of skills, knowledge, and possibly even education, depending on the career and potential employers’ demands.
The first step to changing careers is to determine why this is something you’re interested in doing. Are you feeling unfulfilled in your current job? Is it the company or organization for which you work or the type of work you do? If it’s the company, you should first explore the possibility of working for another company for a while before shifting careers.
Second, you need to plan ahead. Find out whether you can get the education aspect of this career change while you’re working for your current employer. You don’t need to go to your supervisor and let him/her know about your desires (you could find yourself unemployed within a short period of time).
Most colleges and universities offer classes with flexible schedules that allow people to attend while working full-time. Some programs will eventually require a more significant investment of time. When that happens, it may no longer be possible to work at your regular, full-time job.
At that point in time, you will need to either pay for this training or time you’re out of work or find career change grants.
Numerous Options through the Government
The state and federal governments provide a number of assistance programs for educational purposes. There are numerous loans you could consider taking that provide the financing you’d need to pay for the classes at the moment and won’t need to be repaid until a specific period of time after you have completed the program.
If you don’t already have a bachelor’s degree and you have a strong financial need for assistance, you may qualify for a Pell Grant. You may be denied when applying for this type of grant through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) program, and if you are and you’re unemployed or can’t find work in your current field, the school at which you’d like to attend may be able to offer an exemption.
Second Chance Act
If you have a criminal record, you’ve probably already run up against the challenges ex-convicts have in finding reliable employment. The Second Chance Act provides grants to those with a criminal history change their careers. These grants for career change can be used to pay for schooling to expand on skills and qualifications, develop new skills such as through a technical training program, and even completely change careers from what they had been doing before the criminal act occurred.
The North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement opened up trade between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and other North and Central American countries. If you’re one of those people who lost your job due to the company moving those positions out of country, you could qualify for the NAFT Transitional Adjustment Program.
Even if you still have your job but have lost a considerable number of hours due to these types of changes, you can apply for this particular grant. You could use these funds (if approved) to help pay for training to completely change your career or even rely on them for financial assistance during this time of retraining and transition.
AAUW Career Development Grants
For women only, the AAUW Career Development Grants are designed to assist women only who already have a bachelor’s degree in place. These grants for career change are aimed at helping these women re-enter the workforce (following raising children or for other reasons), advance their career, and completely shift their career to something else.
There is some preferential treatment provided to minority women and those who have not sought or received an advanced degree (master’s or Ph.D.) in the past.
When looking into grants for career change, you’ll discover a number of options but most importantly, you’ll also realize that even if you don’t qualify for a grant, there are many financial assistance options that could be ideal to you.
Everyone deserves the option of being able to pursue a career that makes them happy. Being happy with what you do doesn’t have to be something other people get to enjoy. You can, too, no matter how old you are, how long you’ve been working in your chosen field, or what challenges you face in life.
Take advantage of these career change grants and other financial assistance options and you’ll be living the kind of life you’ve always dreamed of.