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A New Direction? Most Workers Want a Different Career

A New Direction? Most Workers Want a Different Career
Credit: Ra2studio/Shutterstock

It's not just a new job many employees want, it's a whole new career, research shows.

Nearly 60 percent of working adults in the U.S. are interested in changing career paths, according to a University of Phoenix School of Business study.

Those most interested in a new direction are workers in their 30s. The research shows that 73 percent of the 30-somethings surveyed would like to change careers, up from 64 percent in 2013.

"Employees in their 30s are likely established in their careers, but may be finding they are not growing as quickly as they had hoped, or are not as satisfied as they imagined they would be in their profession," Ruth Veloria, executive dean of the University of Phoenix School of Business, said in a statement. "A feeling of stagnation can prompt workers to think about their professional development and whether other careers might offer a clearer path to growth."

Money appears to be a motivating factor for many considering a new path. Not making enough money in their current career was the most common reason those surveyed said they wanted to work in a new profession.

A shortage of excitement, burnout and a lack of upward mobility opportunities are among the other reasons many workers want a new career. [The Best Graduate Schools for the Career You Want ]

Despite their desires, 94 percent of those wanting to make a change said there are barriers holding them back. Specifically, 43 percent said a lack of financial security is preventing them from actually switching careers, with 39 percent having uncertainty about what other profession to choose. Not feeling like they have the education or experience, fear of the unknown, and thinking they are too old or too advanced in their current position, are among the other factors stopping workers from going in a new career direction.

Knowing how daunting a change can be, Veloria offers several tips for workers wanting to take their careers in a different direction:

  • Totally starting over isn't necessary. Research your desired career and look for ways the skills you already have can be applied. In order to fill in the knowledge gaps, consider a certificate program to give you the expertise needed.
  • Recognize the skills you already have. It is important to understand how the skills you currently have can be translated to another industry. For example, if you work in marketing, but want a job in health care, Veloria suggests starting in a marketing position with a health care organization to get your feet in the door.
  • Know what lies ahead. Talk to as many people as possible already in the new career you are considering to better understand the opportunities, requirements and challenges.
  • Think about growing where you already are. Find a mentor who can help you grow and find new opportunities to branch out in your current organization.

Veloria expects the trend of workers starting on one career path, to only end up wanting to go in a different direction to continue.

"With professionals less likely to feel locked into a specific career path and the average person remaining in the workforce much longer, it's not surprising that working adults are branching out and exploring many different professional opportunities," Veloria said. "With technology evolving and changing the way we do business, and an ever-expanding job market, we anticipate that this trend will only grow stronger."

The study was based on surveys of 1,044 U.S. adults age 18 or older who work full time, part time or are self-employed.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.