Do you feel that you’re stuck in a rut? Think you could earn more doing in a more interesting and stimulating career? But can’t afford to stop working?
You’re not alone. Thousands of people every year find themselves wanting to change career but unable to do so because of the cost of studying. Not the cost of the course – the cost of living while they study.
Luckily there are plenty of options out there if you need to keep working but want to better yourself and we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each of themselves
Once you’ve decided what you would rather do with your time, then there are plenty of places where you can study a qualification online. One example is the APM PMQ online for project management course.
The big advantage of an online course is that you can study at your own rate and take classes when you have the time available to do so.
Suddenly got a rush at work and needed to put in some extra hours? No problem with an online course you simply don’t log on until your schedule is less hectic.
The other huge advantage is that you can study at home which means you won’t need to pay any extra for your childcare bill as you can study when the kids are in bed. And if you don’t have children, but you do have a laptop you can perhaps study during your commute to and from work, thus filling what used to be “dead” time with useful activity.
An online study may not be to everyone’s taste. Some people find the lack of face-to-face contact off-putting, and of course, the flexible mode of study means that you need to have enough self-discipline to stick to your deadlines.
Night School and Weekly Classroom Based Training
The traditional approach to a change of career is to either find a course of study that you can attend in the evening or take annual leave to attend daytime classroom training. This has the advantage over online training that you get to meet your tutor and fellow students in person. Some people may find it useful to be able to chat informally before and after sessions and of course, if you are a bit too prone to procrastination, having to turn up on time every week can be a good way to ensure you get your studying finished.
There are several disadvantages of this approach, however. Firstly, you are constrained to attending at a specific time. If you happen to be ill or your childcare falls through, or your boss is pressuring you to stay late then you will miss a session, and it can be difficult to make up the session, even if you are provided with the teaching materials.
If your chosen course doesn’t run as an evening class, you will have to take time off work to attend which eats up your actual holiday time. And if you have children you will need to find childcare for them while you are in your session on top of fitting any coursework into your day.
If you are going to have to take time off work to study your chosen career change course, then one option is to pack the course into a short period and travel to the training provider’s facilities.
If what you want to do requires specialist equipment then using dedicated facilities could be almost the only way to complete your training. You can often get a lot out of the “non-contact” hours as you will almost certainly end up socializing with other attendees and will be able to discuss concepts that were unclear or unfamiliar. There may also be a requirement to work in groups to submit coursework, and teamwork is a transferable skill employer look for on CVs.
The downside is the cost. You will need to fund your accommodation as well as the course fees, and if you have children or other caring responsibilities, you will need to ensure that they are met by someone who you trust while you are away.
Depending on your current job you could also find yourself in a tricky situation with work if you are asked to cancel your “holiday” at the last minute.
On the Job Training
If the big barrier to changing your career is supporting yourself while you do so then a final option is to find an employer who is prepared to employ you while you train. Some professions, such as teaching, have a clear career change pathway which allows you to study part-time and work the rest of the time for a modest stipend.
This has the advantage that you are getting paid while you study and you may well not need to budget for any extra childcare compared to your existing job. On the other hand, many employers are wary of taking career changers into such positions – after all if you’ve had the gumption to change career once what’s to say you’ll stick around?
Employers worry that you might not like your new career and there is the simple financial fact that they can pay school leavers less than someone with a few years’ experience – even in a different area.
Take Your Time
Deciding to change career can be an empowering move if you lack in job satisfaction but to be successful, it is important that you choose the right time and the right way. Many people will find a modern, modular, online course to be the easiest to fit into their lifestyle without having to give up their day job but it’s undoubtedly not for everyone.
Only you can decide the best way to study for your career change so do your research on all the different options. Work out the costs and benefits from your point of view and take your time to make sure you choose the best route for your circumstances.