Should You Go Back To School For A Career Change?

The last few weeks of work have been really rough, even worse because I’ve now entered the third trimester of this twin pregnancy.  Before we decided to pursue early semi-retirement, I would usually start thinking about changing jobs or careers whenever work really stressed me out.  I enjoyed college, but as tempting as a change might be, we’re still paying off my loans from attending graduate school.  While making a career change with further education wasn’t a good decision for our financial situation, that doesn’t mean that others might be able to use that strategy to better their life and their future.  How do you decide whether going back to school for a career change is a good idea?




Research, Research, Research

The last thing you should do is make a rash decision out of boredom or frustration with your current work.  Take some time to really think about whether a new career would actually be engaging and rewarding.    Otherwise, you could be facing a similar situation five to ten years from now, and after you’ve spent money and a considerable amount of time pursuing this new career.

It’s also important to talk to some people who actually work in this new field of interest.  Find out what a typical day is really like for them.  You may find out that the job is much different in real life.  Their average day could end up being miles away from the picture in your head.  If that’s the case, it’s better to find out now.


Search job postings to get an idea of whether it will be easy or difficult to actually land the job.  Is there a lot of demand in your geographical area?  Or, is it pretty competitive?  Do you have to move?  What is the pay?  As an adult, you tend to have more responsibilities than a high school graduate.  Be practical about the focus of your education – choose sensible majors.  You can follow your heart to pursue new interests, but making informed decisions will decrease the risk involved.


Consider All Of Your Schooling Options

First of all, do you really need an actual degree or certificate?  Or, will it be enough to obtain the training?  You might be surprised at the drastic change you can make in your career with a minimal amount of new skills and/or training.  Most degree programs require you to take a variety of different “general education” courses, some of which may be completely useless in your new endeavors.  Try to focus on the skills that you need and see if you can get away with just focusing on those courses, like this physical education masters program online.


More and more institutions are offering online courses.  You can use these to continue working while attending school – again, decreasing the risk involved for adults with responsibilities.  It may take a while longer to complete this type of schooling, but you’ll have so much more flexibility.  For more information about the top options for online education, check out this article of mine featured on PT Money. 


Be Smart About Paying For School 

There are lots of ways to fund your education if you plan to attend a college or university.  You may qualify for student loans or you can save up and pay class by class, as much as you can afford.  Of course, there are always private options for school loans.  Take a long, hard look at your finances and be honest with yourself.  Maybe it’s just not a good idea for you to go back to school right now.  Maybe you need to pay off other debt or save up for a year before you can take this step.  


Either way, please be careful about taking out loans to pay for further education.  As mentioned above, don’t pay for courses that don’t provide real value towards your future.  And, make sure to check out all of the alternatives to see what you can get for free or a lower cost with online courses.  If you do take out loans, research different options and take out the absolute minimum necessary – not the maximum allowed amount.  Finally, you need to create a repayment plan for yourself.  Map out your plans now, so you’re not overwhelmed in the future.  



Our goal is to build a variety of passive or flexible income-producing ventures to support us during semi-retirement, so we’ll probably only pursue further education if it involves something of personal interest.  It is always good to keep learning!  However, I realize that early retirement isn’t for everyone.  There are many who feel driven, instead, to change things up by pursuing a new, more-fulfilling career.  I believe that one of the keys to happiness is finding your own path in life, so if that’s your dream, you should definitely go for it!  Take a chance, shoot for the moon, and all of that . . . just make sure to do your homework first.  


  1. Interesting topic, Harmony. You definitely need to consider return on investment, especially if you have to cut back on working hours in order to go to school. Trade schools and licensing programs can be good options rather than a degree, too. I think your point about research should be heeded. Getting a degree just for the sake of it, without knowing how to apply it to earnings capacity, can lead to trouble.
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  2. This is an important post for those considering a change in career. Going back to school is something I have been pondering for a while now. The current field I am in is at risk of complete automation, making it difficult to find new and relevant opportunities. Just not sure if It’s economically feasible at this stage of the game!

    1. Thank you! Fortunately, the threat of automation doesn’t really effect my occupation. However, the big issue is the economic feasibility. Going back to school right now would derail all of the plans for the future, at least for the next decade or so.

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