Have you found yourself daydreaming about how your life could be different if you had majored in Computer Science rather than Marketing in college? For traditional students, sometime between the ages of 18-22 you are expected to declare a major and learn the skills needed to succeed in your field of study. But what if you’re entering your 30’s and your career aspirations have changed since then? Sure, it’s normal to second guess yourself from time to time, but if you’re serious about turning your curiosity into a career pivot a graduate degree may be worth exploring.
Changing jobs is common. According to a 2019 news release issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a survey of baby boomers found that adults change jobs roughly 12 times in their lifetime. But if you already hold a Bachelor’s degree, shouldn’t that be enough to get a job in any field? Not necessarily.
Why grad school?
“Career advancement is a primary driver for professionals who choose to pursue graduate school,” said Amy Gieseke, Ed.D., Dean of Continuing, Graduate & Online Programs at Simpson College, located in Indianola, Iowa. “Career changers also pursue graduate education to obtain the specialized knowledge and skills needed to switch professions. For example, working adults who have always wanted to teach may return to school at Simpson for a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). Students enter Simpson’s MAT program from a variety of different professions, and they leave prepared and excited to teach in our communities.”
Whatever the reason behind your desire to switch careers, remember that it likely won’t happen overnight. While it’s impossible to predict how long the process will take, your chances of landing a new job may improve with the addition of a graduate degree on your resume. Aside from learning new skills, establishing a new network of contacts, and increasing your earning potential, earning a graduate degree shows employers you are committed to succeeding in your field by deciding to invest in your education.
Which program is right for me?
Before you commit to a graduate program, research the delivery method that will work best for your lifestyle. Are you worried about the financial commitment? Search for programs that offer tuition remission in the form of graduate assistantships. Some assistantships will also pay a stipend or offer contributions towards health insurance premiums. Do you have children at home you need to look after? Check into online courses that don’t require your physical attendance in the classroom. Thanks to technology, there’s now more than one way to obtain a degree.
Are standardized test scores required?
Contact admissions representatives and find out if there are standardized test scores required for your program. Common exam scores requested by graduate programs include GRE, GMAT, LSAT, TOEFL, MCAT and PCAT. Need help studying? Check out the grad school test prep section of Petersons.com.
Career transition success story
Shannon Biehl earned a Master of Finance degree from CSU Global in January 2020. Biehl’s path to graduate school began with an announcement made by her employer that her clerical position would soon be eliminated as a result of budget cuts. After taking time to investigate new career options, Biehl researched which qualifications were frequently requested by employers in her field of interest.
“Before making the decision to make a career change, I looked at jobs that I would potentially want to determine exactly what they required as far as experience. I knew that it would be hard making a change without work experience, so I made sure to tailor my degree and classes to the job I wanted,” said Biehl.
After setting her sights on a career in finance, Biehl used the knowledge she gained through her classes to impress hiring managers and land job interviews.
“Going to grad school helped give me the extra training that I lacked from work experience. I even took a lower level position to gain some work experience, as I knew that would compliment my degree. I know the combination of these two things helped me stand out from others applying for the same jobs as I was, even if they had more work experience in the field than I did.”
In a few short years and with the help of a graduate degree, Biehl completed a career transition from Administrative Assistant to Director of Finance and Administration for her new employer.
While it’s impossible to predict the time frame needed to complete a job transition, obtaining a graduate degree can certainly help the process. Need help finding the right program for you? Check out our Grad School Search Tool where you can narrow your search by major, location, or keyword.