Best Approaches to Midlife Career Changes

The number of people who have moved from steadily employed to a state of career obsolescence over the past ten years has been a body blow to the U.S. economy and at a personal level, has shaken the well being and confidence of millions of Americans.  Some among the unemployed have responded by continuing to search for similar job opportunities; some have taken jobs at a vastly reduced salary in order to stay afloat.  And millions have done one or both of these things while attempting to plan a new career track.  For the luckier members of the unemployed class it means transferring current skills into a new work environment where those skills are still valued.  For example an industrial engineer who has watched his plant shut down when manufacturing has moved to foreign shores still has skills that are needed in some of the new manufacturing endeavors remaining in the country.

New Tasks that Require New Skills

But for many of us in our mid thirties or beyond, a new career may require brushing up on old skills and/or learning new ones.  There are a couple of factors at work in job obsolescence that we can respond to with a little planning and some additional studying.  The first massive transition in business operations has to do with the integral role that technology – particularly information technology – plays today.

Every business engaged in the production and sale of tangible products, industrial or consumer consumables that come in a box or on a palette, utilizes customer relationship management (CRM) software to handle multiple business tasks.  Today one software program can manage product movement, sales and accounting records, supply chain management and client history.  A sales supervisor who used a phone and spreadsheets to manage his territory may need substantial IT training to remain in the field today.

The other factor that has come into play across the board is the globalization of business at all levels and of all types.  Any company with more that $50 million in sales is likely going to have a presence offshore either for suppliers, or for sales on multiple continents.  Globalization and innovation is a fact of business life today in many aspects, for every size business.  Working in this business environment requires some acumen in international finance, even at the mid-management level.  It’s another example of a situation where combining successful management experience with some academic updating may result in a positive job search experience.

Obtaining that Educational Update

For people struggling with a stop-gap job (or two) and a continuing job search the burdens can be overwhelming.  But one of the alternatives many professionals are pursuing today is an additional degree online that can provide a state-of-the-art addition to the resume.  Jobs that were open to graduates with a bachelor’s degree for generations are today open to applicants with master’s degrees.  There are dozens of online masters degree programs available that are designed for mid-career students who need additional training or who want to affect a change in career direction.  These programs have flexible curricula that allow the student to keep working and to meet family obligations.

People who have several years’ management experience can enroll in an online Executive MBA program such as that offered by the University of Texas which can be completed in less than two years, one class at a time.  There are also online Masters in Accounting programs which can lead to CPA status and can be completed in a year.  These are options for business professionals that want to upgrade their academic credentials to match today’s job market.

New Careers with Career-Change Degrees

For people who want to make a career switch into an entirely different field there are accelerated programs that provide professional credentials in a new field relatively quickly.  People with a bachelor’s degree and no medical background can enroll in a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Bridge program that can lead to a lucrative advance practice nurse career.  Those with a bachelor’s degree unrelated to education can be teaching within a year after enrolling in a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program.  There are multiple options for career shifts for those who can plan for them and eke out the academic training required.

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