How To Transition Careers: Tips Before, During and After

Updated January 30, 2023

Career choices don't have to be permanent. Changing interests and circumstances can lead people to transition into new careers and industries. If you are considering a different career, make a plan so you can enjoy a successful shift from one field to another. In this article, we provide tips to make transitioning into a new career smooth and easy.

Why should you transition to a new career?

If you are unhappy in your current job, need to make a life change or want to follow your dream, you might consider transitioning to a new career. People might transition careers because they:

  • Are bored or frustrated with their existing job

  • Want more opportunities for advancement

  • Want better pay and benefits

  • Want a flexible work schedule

  • Want to work remotely

  • Need to reduce their stress levels

  • Desire better work-life balance

  • Want a more meaningful job

  • Have been laid off

If the benefits outweigh the risks, changing careers can improve your happiness and quality of life.

Related: Top 25 Jobs for Work-Life Balance

Tips for when you transition careers

Changing careers can be time-consuming, but with a well-organized plan, you can make the transition smoothly. Follow this career transition advice for every part of the process.

Before you transition careers

Before you commit to a new career, make a plan, develop a timeline and take the following steps to prepare yourself:

Identify your transferable skills

Research your chosen industry, and find out which of your existing skills and strengths apply to it. These typically include soft skills such as teamwork, communication, decision-making and multitasking.

Determine the skills you need

Identify the hard skills your new career requires, and begin developing them. If you are pursuing your dream job as a graphic designer, for instance, you might need to learn how to use certain design software. You can try to learn skills yourself or take classes online or at a trade school. You can then add these skills to your resume so you can be more competitive when applying for a job in your new career.

Learn the industry

Familiarize yourself with the industry and its terminology so you can be knowledgeable before being interviewed for a job. Read job descriptions and industry publications and websites to learn the vocabulary, equipment and job duties. Add common terms to your resume to show hiring managers you understand the field.

Consider life changes

Identify the parts of your personal life that might change as you prepare for your new career. If you have a family, for instance, you might need additional child care, or you might have to relocate. Your career transition might also take time away from hobbies and relationships.

Related: How To Make a Career Change

During your career transition

Once you have committed to your career transition, follow these steps to put your plan in action and achieve your goal:

Leave your current job

If you are employed in a different field, you want to resign professionally and on good terms. Give your manager adequate (at least two weeks) notice, and write a formal resignation letter explaining your departure. Finish any existing projects, and document your job duties and workflows for a smooth transition.

Go back to school

Major career changes might require you to get a new certification, license or degree. Determine the qualifications you need and the time and money they take. If you are transitioning to a paramedic career, for instance, you might need advanced cardiac life support certification, which typically takes one day to complete. Other careers, such as health care administration, require advanced degrees such as a Master of Business Administration degree, which takes two years to complete.


Connect with industry professionals online and in-person. They can give you advice and guidance and help you learn more about your new career path. They might also recommend job openings or introduce you to hiring managers. Build your network by attending industry events, joining an association and communicating with successful people in your field through professional networking websites. Set up informational interviews to learn more about the industry and what these professionals do.

Update your resume

As you gain more industry knowledge, skills and qualifications, add those to your resume. Highlight your existing skills and experience in different ways so they apply to your new field. Write an objective statement that explains your career goals and what you can bring to the industry. Also know what previous experience to remove from your resume if it no longer benefits you.

Apply for entry-level positions

Understand that you might need to start your new career at a lower level or salary than you had previously. You might even get experience by doing an internship or volunteer work before applying for a full-time job. Be realistic about the positions you qualify for, and be prepared to work your up to the level you desire.

Be prepared to answer questions

During interviews, hiring managers will want to know why you are changing careers. Prepare a strong, positive and confident response. For example, you might explain how you want to follow your dreams, challenge yourself or do something meaningful with your life. Interviewers will also want to know how your past experiences prepare you for a new job. Focus on the similarities between this job and your previous ones and the results you got, such as revenue increases or the number of people you managed.

Related: Tips From a Recruiter: How To Stand Out When Changing Careers

After transitioning careers

After you have transitioned careers, take the following steps to be successful in your new field and keep developing professionally:

Continue your education

Once you have entered a new industry, look for continuing education opportunities that help you grow professionally. These might include conferences, seminars, webinars and online or in-person classes. You can find adult education classes that teach certain skills, such as computer operating systems, at local colleges or trade schools. Many industry associations offer specialized courses and certifications through their websites.

Be patient

Prepare to spend years learning about your new industry and gaining experience before reaching your target goals. Career advancement is a gradual process — be patient, and put in the effort it takes to succeed.

Related: 5 Steps for Updating Your Resume in a Career Change

Main goals during a career transition

Throughout your career transition, remember why you decided to make the change and continue working toward your goals. These might be:


When starting a new career, you might be paid a lower salary than you desire or had in your previous job. Budget and adjust your savings accordingly to accommodate for financial changes. Work toward milestones and promotions in your new job that might lead to bonuses or pay raises.

Quality of life

If you left your former career for more flexibility and work-life balance, understand that it might take time to reach this goal. Look past the immediate stress of changing careers toward a more satisfying and relaxing lifestyle.


You might need to continue your training and education as you transition careers. Set aside time to study, practice new skills or take classes to gain the experience you need to succeed in your new career.


If you left your previous job to have more opportunities for career advancement, make growing professionally your main goal. Pursue continuing education opportunities, expand your network and accept more responsibilities at work.


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