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Career Advice

New Year, New Career: 10 Tips for Changing Careers in 2024

Is a new career on your bucket list for 2024? Learn more about what steps you need to take to start a new job, exploring industries that you’re interested in, and finding the right job for you!
Desiree Sinkevich

Des Sinkevich

Embarking on a new career path in 2024 can be an exciting challenge! This guide provides practical tips for adults to take the next steps toward starting a new career. From figuring out your interests to planning your finances, these 10 tips offer simple advice to help you figure out what you want to do and reach your goals.

1. Self-assessment

  • Take time to evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and values
  • Use career assessment tools and tests
  • Reflect on your past experiences and passions


If you’re considering taking your career in a new direction, but aren’t sure where to start, the first best step is usually to do some sort of self-assessment. This could be something you do on your own by doing something like making a list of your interests and skills and aligning those with potential new careers.


“Consider your career preferences,” Kristen Schenck, a Penn Foster Talent Acquisition Associate at Penn Foster, advises. “What are your interests? What are your skills? If you’re not sure, there are career exploration tools and assessments to help point you in the right direction. These assessment platforms are designed to provide career matches based on your interests, goals, history, workplace preferences, and personality.”


Expert Insight:


Read more: Your Guide to a Mid-Life Career Change


2. Explore in-demand industries

  • Research industries projected to grow in the next decade
  • Identify career paths that align with your skills and interests
  • Monitor job postings for opportunities and trends


While you may have a broad range of interests that could translate into a variety of jobs, if you’re looking to begin a new career where you can be reasonably confident in finding a job ASAP, research some of today’s most in-demand industries. For example, jobs in healthcare have been steadily in demand for the last few years, with an expected job growth of 1.8 million new jobs each year for the next decade.


If healthcare isn’t your thing, do some research into other in-demand industries like veterinary care, skilled trades, or technology.


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“Review job descriptions and postings for entry-level roles in the new field you’re interested in.”

Kristen Schenck

Talent Acquisition Associate, Penn Foster

3. Online education and training

  • Find reputable online courses to gain new skills
  • Obtain certifications or credits to supplement your resume
  • Use e-learning platforms to update your skills in your current industry


You have an idea of what job you’d like to do, so it’s time to look into the next steps! Depending on what career path you’ve decided to pursue, the next step is often getting the training or education you need to qualify for an entry-level job.


For adults who are already working and have a busy life, going back to school full-time is probably not going to be easy to make happen. Instead, look into online education and training options. Generally, online programs are shorter and more flexible than a traditional education, allowing you to learn on your own time.


More and more people take online courses and programs to reach their goals, so employers are starting to pay less attention to where you went to school and more attention to the skills you learned.


Further, you don’t necessarily need to go to college to get a good job. There are many careers that only require formal training like what you can get with a career diploma or certificate program!


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“Research your best options for attaining the degree or certification for the new career field. Think about which skills you need to improve, which courses you need to complete, and what kind of resources are available to assist you along the way.”

Kristen Schenck

Talent Acquisition Associate, Penn Foster

Expert Insight:


Read more: Courses You Can Start and Finish This Year


4. Networking and informational interviews

  • Leverage social media to connect with professionals in your target industry
  • Attend industry-specific events, workshops, and conferences
  • Conduct informational interviews to gather insights and expand your network


As someone who is looking to start a career in a completely new industry, you may feel a little lost. How do things work? What kind of education and skills do you really need? What is the job actually like?


One of the best ways to learn more about the industry you’re interested in – and potentially get your foot in the door at different companies – is to work on professional networking. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, take the time to set one up and start exploring. Join groups and conversations about the job you’re thinking about pursuing, connect with leaders in the industry online, and read relevant news and information that can help you connect with others and inform your job search.


Another way to get some insider info about a job? Try asking someone in your network for an informational interview. This isn’t a job interview; you’re not applying for anything. Instead, it’s a way for you to ask questions of seasoned professionals, learn more about a company, and find out more about what employers may be looking for.


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“Networking with colleagues and others through professional networking tools can be of great value. Check out what your friends and peers are doing as well.”

Kristen Schenck

Talent Acquisition Associate, Penn Foster

Statistical Insight:


A survey conducted by LinkedIn revealed that 85% of jobs are filled through networking. Building professional connections can significantly impact career opportunities.


5. Volunteer or internship opportunities

  • Look for volunteer positions or internships in your desired field
  • Consider part-time or freelance work to gain experience
  • Build a diverse portfolio to showcase your skills to potential employers


Transitioning to a new career can seem like a challenge, especially if you don’t have a lot of work experience under your belt. Volunteering and searching for internship opportunities can be a great way to gain experience and build out your resume. For example, if you want to work as a veterinary technician but don’t have much experience working with animals, volunteering at your local rescue or shelter can be a good way to get your foot in the door.


Expert Insight:


6. Build a strong online presence

  • Update your LinkedIn profile and write an engaging summary
  • Showcase your industry-related work on social media or a personal website
  • Engage in online communities, forums, and groups related to your target industry


Networking can make a big difference when you’re searching for jobs or considering switching careers to an entirely new industry. If you don’t already have one, create a LinkedIn profile that highlights your skills and experience. Make sure to include a professional photo as your profile picture and don’t be afraid to hype yourself up!


Statistical Insight:

  • According to a CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process. A strong online presence can positively influence hiring decisions.


Read more: 5 Secrets to Make Your Resume Stand Out


7. Emphasize transferrable skills

  • Identify transferable skills from your past experiences
  • Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight applicable skills
  • Prepare examples of how your transferable skills apply to your target industry


When you’re looking to transition to an entirely new career, it may feel like a challenge if you don’t have similar work experience. But think about the work experience you do have. What skills have you learned through your past jobs that could be applicable?


For example, say you work in retail and want to move into a healthcare role. While there may be some skills you’ll need formal training for, depending on the specific medical job you want, there are probably a ton of skills you already have that can make a difference. In retail, you’re generally expected to be on your feet all day, you need to be adaptable, and you likely have excellent communication and customer service skills! These can all be an asset in a healthcare role that demands you work on your feet, be flexible, and care for and interact with patients regularly.


In your cover letter or interview, make sure to market your skills to potential employers. Emphasize what you’re good at and that you’re willing and eager to learn and grow!


Expert Insight:

  • The World Economic Forum emphasizes the importance of soft skills, such as creativity and emotional intelligence, labeling them as essential skills for career success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.


Read more: Careers That Allow You to Work From Home


8. Professional development and certifications

  • Pursue industry-specific certifications and licenses
  • Attend workshops and conferences to stay up to date on industry trends
  • Participate in professional development resources offered by industry organizations


Besides having formal education or training when you’re looking to switch careers, having industry-recognized certifications on your resume can make a big difference when applying to jobs. For industries that require credentials to work, like becoming a veterinary technician, you’ll need certification to get your foot in the door. For industries and jobs that don’t require certification, having relevant credentials can help you stand out from other applicants and even potentially give you more bargaining power when you’re negotiating salary.


Statistical Insight:


Read more: How to Decide What Skills You Need for the Job You Want


9. Financial planning

  • Create a budget to determine the financial impact of changing careers
  • Save money for additional education, certifications, or a potential income gap
  • Consider the long-term financial benefits and growth potential in your new career


One worry that can come up when you’re considering a big career change is whether or not you can afford it. Will the new job pay enough to cover your bills? Can you afford to go back to school to train for this new career path? Before making a big move, take some time to do some basic financial planning. Figure out how you can save money, if needed, to further your education and do more in-depth research about the potential salary for the new career you want.


Expert Insight:

  • According to a survey by Bankrate, 57% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Financial planning is crucial when considering a career change to ensure a smooth transition.


10. Mentorship and guidance

  • Seek mentors or career coaches within your desired industry
  • Look for networking groups or associations related to your new career
  • Learn from the experiences and insights of others in your field


When you’re pursuing an entirely new career, having guidance and mentorship from a seasoned professional can offer a lot of benefits. Not only can it be a great way to network, having a mentor with real experience can help you identify the skills you should focus on when you’re trying to enter a new industry. A mentor can also offer general career guidance, helping you find what you’re good at, refine your resume, and more!


Statistical Insight:


Read more: How to Network if You're Not a People Person


Find the right career for you

If you know that you want to find a new career, but aren’t sure exactly what career you’re interested in, try taking a free online career quiz to get you started! From there, you can explore education and training programs that can help you take the next step in your journey!


Want more career advice or insights on how to change careers? Check out more in our Student Life Blog!


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