How To Plan For A Swift Career Change

Two-Year Degrees For New Careers

Thinking about making a career move, but don't want to spend four plus years earning a bachelor's degree? Choose one of these programs, and you could cut that time in half.

By Elizabeth Deranja
Before she became a famous chef, Julia Child not only had careers in publicity and advertising, she even served with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. If there's one thing Julia has taught us, it's that it's never too late to switch careers.
But what if you have to go back to school to do so? It's never too late for that either - no matter what your age.
"Because of the economy, we're not seeing the typical 18- to 20-year-olds anymore," says Anna Katsuki, an academic advisor at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif. Instead she sees a lot of moms, who were previously staying at home taking care of their children, now going back to school in order to join the workforce.
Whatever your motivation is for pursuing a new career, you likely don't want to spend ages in school preparing yourself, so a bachelor's degree could be out of the question. The good news? There are some very marketable degrees you could earn in as little as two years.
Here are four options at the associate's  and master's degree levels that could help you prepare for your new direction.

Degree #1: Associate's in Health and Information Technology

Medical information and computers go hand-in-hand when it comes to this degree. So if you're interested in both, consider an associate's in health and information technology, which you could earn in as little as two years.
Why It's Right for Career Switchers:  Earning this degree could offer many new professional opportunities. Why? Health care is undergoing great technological change. "[The field of] medical information is growing very fast because under the Affordable Care Act, there is a mandate to move to computer-based medical records," says Laurence Shatkin, career information expert and co-author of "300 Best Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree.".
Click to Find the Right Health Information Technology Program.
Career Switch Options: With an associate's degree in health and information technology, Shatkin says you could pursue a career that focuses on medical coding, billing, or procedures reports - all of which helps the facility better understand why patients are seeking medical treatment. You could also specialize in a certain area, such as secure storage of records, he says.

Degree #2: Associate's in Graphic Design

Are you computer savvy but also want to showcase more of your creative side in a new career? Consider earning your associate's degree in graphic design - another program you could complete in as little as two years.
Why It's Right for Career Switchers: "You don't need a bachelor's [for graphic design]," Katsuki says. "It's about being talented to pick up the skills to go out into the workforce."
Click to Find the Right Graphic Design Program.
Career Switch Options: An associate's degree in graphic design could open doors to a career as a web designer, Shatkin says. Good web designers are always needed, as there are millions of web pages and it's easy to spot the difference between the good ones and bad ones, he says.
Another career option Shatkin mentions is graphic designer within a print media team. In this type of position, Shatkin says you would design print items like magazines and brochures.

Degree #3: Master's in Business Administration (MBA)

If you already have your bachelor's degree but want to move into a more specialized area of business, you may want to consider earning your MBA, which could give you a variety of options in the business world, says Shatkin. The best part? You could get an MBA in as little as two years.
Why It's Right for Career Switchers: "Businesses are increasingly using data tools to make business decisions," Shatkin says. "In order to learn how to use those more sophisticated tools - that's where a master's degree will help you." He also notes that a number of specializations, like marketing, sales management, or product development, could help you focus your MBA.
Click to Find the Right MBA Program.
Career Switch Options: Someone with an MBA will likely find themselves in a management position, Shatkin says. In what type of management position? "I think an MBA is unlimited," he says. Some potential areas where he thinks you could apply your MBA expertise include finance, public relations, marketing, and human resources, to name a few.

Degree #4: Master's in Health Care Administration

If you've already got a bachelor's in an area of health care, but you'd rather move away from direct patient care, you might want to consider getting your master's in health care administration - a program you can complete in as little as two years.
Why It's Right for Career Switchers: This degree might not be for those who want to completely jump tracks, but if you want to fill a different need in the health care industry, it could provide just the right shift in perspective.
Shatkin shares a fairly common career path for this degree: "You can work in health care, and then get the master's and move into health care management."
Click to Find the Right Master's in Health Care Administration Program.
Career Switch Options: With a master's in health care administration, you could find yourself pursuing a role as an office manager at a medical office or hospital, Shatkin says. Within that role, you could specialize in a professional area, like managing patients or technology.
But, he stresses, there are also plenty of opportunities outside of medical offices or hospitals for people with this degree. These include nursing homes and extended care facilities.

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