In a career rut? You don't have to start from scratch. Here's how to make the switch to an exciting new role in a similar industry.Do you dread going to your dead-end job every day? What if you could find a better-paying gig where you still use some of the same skills? The right career makeover could help you leverage your existing skills and experience into a better position within a similar industry or field. This type of professional transition might require a little extra school, but it could all be worth it in the end.
"Generally the more education you have, the more money you can make," says Abby Kohut, a New Jersey-based career expert and principal of AbsolutelyAbby.com, a career guidance website. "And if you're going back to school for something you really want to do, you're going to love the curriculum."
To give you some ideas and help you make an informed decision, we've outlined a few logical career transitions below, in which skills or industry knowledge could easily transfer from old job to new.
Career Makeover #1: Office Clerk to AccountantSomebody needs to answer phone calls, maintain files, and schedule appointments at an office, right? Sure. But that doesn't mean it has to be you. If you're a detail-oriented person who's ready to leave behind strictly clerical work, then consider pursuing the path of an accountant.
What would your day look like as an accountant? Well, you'll be responsible for a company or organization's financial records, says the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as calculating taxes and suggesting cost-cutting measures. Sounds like a change from the ho-hum support tasks that can come with being an office clerk.
Plus, all of the filing experience you have from clerical work should be a great foundation for you to build upon in the accounting field. Why? The Department of Labor says accountants also organize and maintain financial records.
Why Accounting? For Kohut, compensation and growth opportunity are two big advantages that a career makeover from a clerical job to an accountant offers. "Clerical positions won't make as much money, and there's not much growth," says Kohut. She's right: The median annual pay reported by the Department for an accountant is $63,550 - more than double the $27,470 median take-home for office clerks.*
In addition, Kohut identifies a direct path for upward mobility in accounting. "As an accountant, you can work your way up the chain, and become a controller or a CPA," she says.
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How to Make the Move: Want in on the opportunity to pursue a career as an accountant? Well, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related discipline first, since according to the Department, most accountant and auditor positions require one.
Career Makeover #2: Retail to Public Relations SpecialistHad enough of long shifts spent on your feet, folding sweaters, marking products down, and straightening displays? If you enjoy interacting with different customers - but not the grunt work and running around that retail entails, then transitioning from a salesperson to a public relations specialist might be a good move for you.
In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, public relations specialists are responsible for helping organizations tailor and promote favorable public images and messages through cultivating relationships with the public - which might include investors, media outlets, and yes, the consumers.
Why Public Relations? Kohut sees the jump from retail to PR as a pretty logical move. Why? Well, to work retail, you've often got to be a people person from the get-go, and your friendly demeanor and customer service skills can transition to an office setting with clients and companies. "If you're in retail, you're dealing with the public," says Kohut. "So there's that connection with PR, where you're also dealing with people, but specifically it's the media."
Kohut also says there's more potential for growth as a public relations specialist. Retail pretty much ends with management, and there aren't as many opportunities to get promoted as in PR, she says. Plus, the difference in pay also makes financial sense, as the Department of Labor reports that PR specialists earn a median of $54,170 - while even a first-line supervisor of retail sales workers earns only a median of $36,820 each year.*
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How to Make the Move : According to the Department, public relations specialists usually need a bachelor's degree. Typically, employers prefer those who've majored in fields such as English, journalism, public relations, communications, or business, the Department says.
Career Makeover #3: Bank Teller to Personal Financial AdvisorShow me the money is your mantra, because, well, you work with it every day as a bank teller. You may be great at making fast, accurate, and courteous transactions. But maybe you've also got far too much potential and money savvy to be stuck just handling and counting cash. Instead, why not make a career out of helping others invest it as a personal financial advisor?
Rather than just counting cash and ordering bank cards for customers as you would as a teller, your duties as a personal financial advisor, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, may include advising clients on investment decisions and helping them plan for specific expenses like school or retirement.
Why Personal Finance? Going from bank teller to financial advisor isn't too much of a stretch in Kohut's opinion. Why? You will be dealing within the same financial world to perform the job. Not only that, but this switch offers a major benefit in the form of monetary compensation, says Kohut. "[A]dvisors could hit those higher salaries and even start their own business and make big commissions if they make sound investments for their customers," she says.
She's right. According to the Department of Labor, the median annual salary for bank tellers was $24,940 in 2012, whereas the median annual salary for personal financial advisors was $67,520.
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How to Make the Move: Before you can start creating investment portfolios for people as a financial advisor, you'll want to consider earning some kind of a bachelor's degree, which the Department says personal financial advisors typically need. And while employers don't require a specific major, the Department says studying a degree in finance, accounting, business, economics, law, or mathematics is a good way to prep.
The Department also notes that to directly buy or sell stocks, bonds, and insurance policies - or to give specific investment advice - you'll need the right license, which is determined by the products you sell.
Career Makeover #4: Hospitality Staff to Lodging ManagerYou feel at home at a hotel while you're tending to guests' needs and creating a welcoming environment to visitors. But you're ready to take on greater responsibility by managing your coworkers and the hotel. The only problem is you just don't have the long-term experience under your belt for this kind of rewarding management position.
The good news? Undertaking a career makeover from a hospitality staffer to a lodging manager could be accomplished, Kohut says, by completing a degree program in hospitality management. As a lodging manager, you could find yourself monitoring staff performance, setting room rates and budgets, and ensuring that standards for guest service and housekeeping are met - which the U.S. Department of Labor says are part of the job description for this position.
Why Hotel or Lodging Management? The best part of making this switch happen is that you'll likely see your income grow. "Hospitality staffers typically aren't making the big bucks," says Kohut. "Management is key in this industry to making more money."
But just how much do hospitality staff make? While it takes a small army to keep a hotel running, the Department of Labor reports that hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks - to give one example of occupations in the accommodations subsector - experience a median annual income of $20,340. The median annual salary for a lodging manager? A healthy $46,810, according to the Department.
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How to Make the Move: Ready to climb that ladder at the hotel where you currently work? Although you may qualify to do so with long-term work experience and a high school diploma, according to the Department, most large and full-service hotels might require you to have a bachelor's degree in hotel management or hospitality.
However, with an associate's or certificate in hospitality, hotel, or restaurant management, you may qualify for a position as a lodging manager in an establishment that provides fewer services.