It is said that the average person will change careers about five to seven times during their lifetime.
Nola Payne, head of Information and Communication Technology at The Independent Institute of Education, said those who wanted to change careers should not only consider an upwards or sideways move, but possibly also entering a new field entirely.
“Decisions on career choices are made as far back as our grade 9 when matric subjects are selected with the aim of gaining entry into the qualification that will prepare you for your career,” she said.
But at this young age, decisions are often based on influences from parents and peers, and with little insight into the actual rewards and demands of a specific career.
“After graduation and a few years in the workplace, it is not uncommon for people to find that their career is not the one they want to follow for the rest of their lives,” she said.
But a choice made in one’s teenage years need not impact the rest of one’s life.
“It is never too late to make a switch, but deciding to go from teacher to IT technician, or accountant to art director is a major move, which should not be made lightly,” she said.
Payne offered more advice:
- Don’t switch careers without a solid plan.
- Don’t change careers because you “hate” your job. Perhaps it’s the place and the people at work that you can’t stand, or that you’re bored.
- Don’t change careers based solely on financial matters or social status.
- Don’t make a change because of pressure from family and friends.
- Do consider all the possibilities and requirements to make the change.
- Understand that you’ll need to spend money and time gaining the necessary qualifications and experience.
- Make sure you can survive on the money you’ll earn as an entry-level employee in your new career.
After having made the big decision, she advises the following process:
- Accept that your first career is coming to an end, and give yourself a timeline to switch disciplines.
- Identify where you’d like to be in five years and what you’d like to do, and do your research. This may be reading up on your new career choice, taking leave and job shadowing for a few days, and finding out what your options are.
- Determine what you need to study and how to study for it. You could study full-time or part-time classes on a campus or by distance learning.