Changing career doesn’t have to mean mid-life drama

Going back to school has become a popular way to kickstart a career change

Share

Whether you retrain as a midwife, embark on a five-year PhD, or retake the GCSEs you flunked because you discovered dating, returning to education has become a popular way of instigating a change of career.

Research indicates that adults who choose to return to education are more likely to study for career-oriented undergraduate degrees or post-graduate certificates, historically enrolling on medically allied subjects (nursing and midwifery), business studies, business administration, education and social studies. 

Leanne Spencer, 39, who left her job as a high-level account director in the City to pursue a career in personal training, did just that. “A couple of years ago I realised I’d come to the end of the line with my energy and performance levels. My health was sliding and I was drinking heavily,” she said. “It was the nature of working in the city. Life is very short and I felt like I was wasting it.” Leanne, who had no family to support, studied for a diploma in personal training before setting up her own business.

“The change has been brilliant. I can’t believe my luck that I’m standing in a field making money.

“My training cost £4,000, but I had that money available, so I was able to finance it. I also sold my house around that time, which gave me a small buffer. It would have been hard to do it without that financial support.”

Leading career adviser, Corinne Mills, thinks more people are choosing to change careers now because they have longer working lives.

“We’re not going to be doing exactly  the same job in our sixties as we did when we were 18,” she says. “We do see a lot of mid-life career changes.”

Unfortunately, stumping up enough cash to fund a career change is something many mature students simply cannot do, especially if they have families to support, or mortgages and first-time-around student loans to pay off.

“Following the rise in tuition fees, an increasing number of mature students are finding it difficult to fund a career change,” Ms Mills added.

Sarah Mckeown, a 27-year-old assistant bar manager with a degree from King’s College London in French with linguistics, would like to return to university to study for a Masters in Discourse Analysis. However, she is concerned about the cost of getting a qualification that, in the long run, might not leave her better off.

“I could never afford it,” she says. “I’ve got student loans to pay back, I’m still chipping away at my overdraft and I don’t have £5,000 in savings, let alone £9,000 to splash out on tuition fees.

“Plus, when I look at the career prospects with this qualification, it simply says ‘many of our graduates go into management positions’. I’m already a manager and I certainly don’t need a Masters in Discourse Analysis to run a bar.”

Ms Mills says a common mistake among career-switchers is thinking the change has to be “dramatic”. She suggests taking things one step at a time. “Most people still have to pay their bills,” she says. “Doing it a bit at a time is usually a more realistic way.”

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions