Sudy Bharadwaj, a co-founder and the CEO of Jackalope Jobs, contributed this article to BusinessNewsDaily's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Are you part of the Millennial generation who seem accustomed to the four-year career path? Or perhaps you're a baby boomer who's had an average of 11 jobs? Maybe you are part of 60 percent of Americans who would choose a different career if they had to do it all over again? No matter what group you find yourself in, you may be faced with the challenge of branching out and changing careers at some point.

Whether your career change is personal or professional is beside the point. A career change means re-evaluating yourself as a worker and finding a better fit for you. In addition, it's vital that you take certain steps in order to come out on top — and not be in a position you regret.

With that in mind, check out this ultimate guide for changing careers in order to figure out the right job for you and nab the career path of your dreams.

Assess why you want to change

Many employees are unhappy because of their co-workers. Some don't like their workloads. Others find it hard to find a work-life balance, which makes their lives harder. However, many of these issues can be fixed, which means a career change won't do much for the root of the problem if it's not addressed first.

Instead, figure out why you want a career change. If you don't like your actual job anymore, that's a solid reason to look for something new. However, if you're just not challenged enough, you may want to speak to your current boss about different elements to your current position. When you can weed through your current problems, you'll be in a better shape because you know what you don't want and can focus on what you do want.

Do your research

Let's say you've worked in marketing for years but want to take a stab at sales. Even if you want to change your career path and move horizontally through your current company, the work process may be completely different. In this respect, it's important to do your research to understand what you'll need to do — and any additional skills you'll need to have — in order to be considered for a position.

You may need a specific degree in order to be considered for the job or a certain number of years experience in the field, which could pose as a challenge if you're not there yet. This is why changing careers requires research, rather than blindly applying to a new job.

To start, look up what qualifications you may need. You may also want to talk to people who are currently doing what you want to do so you can gauge your chances. Finally, figuring out if your resume, cover letter, portfolio, etc., are up to industry standards also helps. So, although putting work into changing careers may be time consuming, it will work out in your favor in the end if you do it correctly.

Use job search resources

The beauty of job searching in the 21st century is the fact that we have tons of job search resources to our disposal. Resume tools, portfolio sites, job boards, social networking employment finders and even interview prep websites can all assist in your search.

In fact, many companies use social networking to find candidates. By using job search tools that take this into account, you'll be in a better shape than those who used resources that hadn't considered this fact. Just remember to use the best tools that will work for you, rather than ones that are saturated with candidates. That way, you'll be able to not only find a new career, but find the right career.

Say thank you

Although you may want to leave your current job in a blaze of glory, don't burn that bridge just yet. No matter what your position was, it should be left tastefully, without any hard feelings. Sit your supervisor down, thank them for the opportunity and relay your appreciation for their leadership. When you do so, it will be quite difficult to end on bad terms because you exited in the most respectful way possible. This will be seen in a more positive light than if you just left them standing.

A career change may seem like a daunting task, but if you assess why you want to change, do your research, use the right resources and say thank you as you embark on your new career path, you'll likely be happier in your new position than if you hadn't taken the right steps.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.