Maybe your job is horrible. Maybe you’re still trying to figure out what you’re going to be when you grow up — even though you are a grown up.
It’s OK – you’re not alone. One study by LinkedIn found that millennials changed jobs an average of four times in their first decade after college. But don’t jump blindly from one career you don’t like to another that could be even worse.
Consider these five factors:
1. How much will you earn? Starting salaries are one factor to consider when choosing a second career, but not the only. You should look at what kind of salary growth is typical in your new field, and what your pay might be in five or 10 years.
Will your annual pay raises keeping up with the cost of living — or your desire to buy a home, have children or get a new car? How fast your earnings will grow can be more important than where you start on day one.
2. How many job opportunities are there? A good career move puts you in a position where your skills are in demand. How would you feel if you jumped into a new field only to find out there were few jobs available?
Consider how many job openings are projected for your new field over the next decade. The government and many business publications regularly publish data on which careers will create the most new jobs over the next few years.
3. How many types of jobs are there? In addition to the number of jobs in your new field, you also should think about the types of jobs within the field. You may be interested in a corporate job next, dream of entrepreneurship later in life, and find yourself wanting to give back through nonprofit work near the end of your career.
Even if you think you’ll want a certain kind of job for the rest of your life, more options are better — just in case you change your mind. Does your new field provide lots of different kinds of job opportunities in different sectors?
4. What are the potential perks and benefits? Every career comes with its own set of perks and benefits — pluses that go beyond just dollars. Travel writers get to see the sights from Paris to Peru. Many tech companies offer flexible schedules and allow employees to work from home.
Health insurance and 401ks are important, but is that all you really want from a job? You can do better. What potential benefits are important to you?
5. Will you be doing work that matches your core passions and talents? This is probably the most important — and overlooked — factor. Will you enjoy the job? No matter how great the pay, benefits, and job opportunities, if you don’t like the work, you’ll be miserable.
Imagine jumping into a new career that looks good — great pay, opportunities to travel — and then finding you hate the work. If you like solving puzzles or collaborating as part of a team, for example, will you find you have those opportunities in your new career?
After considering what’s most important in a new career, you may discover you’re not qualified. What then? Grad school is a common way of getting a new credential and transitioning to a new career. But not all graduate programs are the same.
First, how long will the program take? Are you going to spend years in school (again!) before you can start over in a new career? Even a one-year program can open the door to a brand-new career.
For some people, on-campus programs are impractical. Maybe you can’t afford to stop working. Maybe you’ve got a family and don’t want to move. In that case, look at high-quality online programs (just remember to be picky).
What’s the perfect career for you?
If you’re thinking “That sounds great, but I STILL don’t know what I want to do,” take our “What Should I Do When I Grow Up?” quiz.
What’s your next career move?
The online Master of Accounting (MAC) degree from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School can give your career the boost it needs.