Time for a career change?

There will never be a perfect time or an entirely risk-free way of changing careers

Changing careers can be both exciting and frightening, but it's something best done in a calm and rational frame of mind.

It's one of those statistics endlessly repeated online – today's workers will change careers four times over their lifetime. If we define a career change as moving into a different industry, it's actually a lot less common than suggested, but still far from unusual. It's entirely possible you'll change career once or twice due to redundancy, technological change or simply a desire for something new. Here's how to go about it:

1. Know what you want to do

People craving a career change are usually clear about what they no longer wish to do, but often have only a vague idea of what they could do instead. Before doing anything else, work out what transferable skills you have, what skills you're willing to practise and what it is you're hoping to achieve by changing career.

2. Do your research

Careers that appear glamorous may seem less attractive once you find out about the long hours, modest pay or job insecurity they involve. Find out all you can about any industry you're considering. If possible, ask someone working in it to list the pros and cons of their job.

3. Don't make any sudden moves

See if you can take some leave from your job to do unpaid work experience in the industry you're interested in moving into. If you need a new skill set, work out how you're going to acquire it – you may need to do one or more courses in your free time, for example.

4. Prepare yourself and others for the downsides

You're probably going to have to take a pay cut when changing careers, so start putting money aside as early as possible. Your family may have to make sacrifices as a result of your career change, so explain to them why it's important to you and ask for their support.

There will never be a perfect time or an entirely risk-free way of changing careers, but if you go about it in a sensible manner you're much more likely to make a successful transition from your old career to your new one. If you are looking for a new career, visit the TAFE NSW Career areas for a list of options.