While pivoting from one career to another can be an exciting enterprise, sometimes it demands additional education. However, it’s not always clear whether that will be the case or not for professionals setting their sights on a career change.
You may be able to learn the ropes from scratch through hands-on experience and training if you are shifting into a different role within the same industry. Other career moves might require that you prove your competency in the field first by earning a new degree or certification.
How can you know whether gaining another area of expertise and setting a new career trajectory will mean a formal return to school? Below, 10 members of Forbes Coaches Council look at ways to determine what kind of education it will take to land in the new career you want.
1. Identify What Comes Next
Education is crucial, as is experience. Career change creates opportunity to explore what is next. You can research or interview people in your desired field. Once you identify what’s next, determine whether education or experience is most important in your new career. Experience can be gained through volunteering and pro bono work or by offering to take on interesting opportunities in your current workplace. – Michelle Braden, MSBCoach, LLC
2. Understand Required Skills
When you are more than ready to start a new chapter, understand that this will require new skills and perspectives and you will most likely need additional training. Being open to receiving new tools and training will allow you to nurture your leadership muscle and teach you more about the industry or field. – Michelle de Matheu, The Mind, Body & Soul Stylist
3. Think About What You’ve Learned Recently
If you are in a situation where you have not learned anything in two years, you need to change! Education and learning are lifelong endeavors. Organizations competing in the digital world are looking for people with learning mindsets and a thirst for knowledge and personal development. You should always view your career as something that needs to be disrupted and constantly innovated. – Brad Cousins, Ingage Human Capital Strategies
4. Identify Transferable Skills
If you want to pull off a dramatic career shift, you can identify which skills you can transfer to your new field. If you don’t have all the necessary transferable skills, it is certainly worth educating yourself and getting the certifications. Why? Because you’re able to create a more compelling story as to why you are worth a little bit of a risk as a career-switcher. – Jay Rai, www.jayrai.com
5. Look At The Needs Of The Industry
You don’t always necessarily have to go back to school. What you should be doing is looking at the current needs of the industry and the type of technology skills companies within it are looking for, then brush up on those skills. Take classes on the Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe and other tech on your own that will help the companies you want to work for. – Jon Dwoskin, The Jon Dwoskin Experience
6. Consider How You’ll Measure ROI
Before jumping into a lengthy and potentially expensive education option, do some research to see if it’s truly needed. Is it a “nice to have” or a “must have?” What aspects of your work experience could meet the needs of additional education? Consider how you’ll measure the ROI and determine up front if it’s essential for your professional development, or for your own personal interest. – Susan Sadler, Sadler Communications LLC
7. Study Role Models In Your Intended Field
Identify role models who are already in your intended field and study their trajectory. Did they get formal education or learn through on-the-job training? Formal education, while more costly and time-consuming, could help you accelerate your learning curve in some fields. – Chuen Chuen Yeo, ACESENCE
8. Get Input From Trusted Mentors
While we all need to be continually learning and upskilling our professional capabilities, going back to school is generally necessary if you are wanting to make a major career pivot, or if you have hit the ceiling and can’t advance further without an advanced degree. Talk to trusted mentors and get their input on how to move forward, whether it be a professional certification or new degree. – Jonathan H. Westover, Utah Valley University & Human Capital Innovations, LLC
9. Think About Your Goals For Advancement
If your future success in the role will be limited by lack of a degree or formal education, then investing in school will be important. There are a variety of fields that hire entry-level candidates with no formal education. However, in order to be promoted, a degree is required. If you plan to make a long-term career change, then you don’t want this to hinder your success down the road. – Cheryl Czach, Cheryl Czach Coaching and Consulting, LLC
10. Consider Showing Commitment To A New Field