Deciding to make a big career change isn’t easy but figuring out how to make it happen can seem even harder.
Unfortunately, our career choices don’t come with a play-by-play guidebook. The good news is, even when you’re unsure about how to switch careers, there are some tried and tested routes you can take to start heading in a new direction.
Remember, you’re certainly not the first and you won’t be the last person to jump into something new. If you are dying to break into a new career, here are some of the things you can do to get you closer to your goal.
Get Real About What You Want
Determine your future goals beyond your job title. This is the point where you get to have fun and think intensely about everything that matters to you when it comes to your work.
Ask yourself some probing questions, such as: What type of locations do you want to work in? What environments motivate you? What type of hours could you see yourself working? Is there anything that’s non-negotiable for you?
Get real about what you want to work toward because your career is super important. You deserve to really focus on what you want, to determine what you’d be prepared to do to get there.
Do Your Research
It’s essential to do as much detailed research as you can. Ask people in your network if they can help make introductions to people who work in the field you are targeting. Use the time to find out how they started their careers and the steps they are taking to move to the next level.
Start reading industry publications on a regular basis to learn more about developments, companies, trends and opportunities. Where possible, attend industry events to get a feel for how the sector you’re targeting operates, looks and feels on the inside.
How much will you be paid in your new career? Take PayScale’s Salary Survey and find out.
Check Out the Job Market
Even if you’re not ready to apply yet, start reviewing job descriptions for the career you are considering. Understand the differences between job titles and levels of experience and identify what employers are looking for.
Then, use LinkedIn to look up individuals who have similar job titles. If you can see their profiles via your network connections, you can also review their job history to see how their career paths mapped out and what they studied.
Don't Discard Your Existing Skills
Think about your skill sets and what you do best. Use the job descriptions you’ve gathered to help figure out the new skills you’ll need to acquire for your new career and which skills you already have and could be transferable.
Don’t be daunted by this process, it’s just a starting point to help you prioritize what you need to learn and apply over the course of your entire career. No one becomes crazy successful overnight, but knowing what you want to learn and accomplish in the future is super valuable.
Explore Career Education
Explore opportunities to continue your education by taking courses that will get you a step closer to where you want to be. If you’re serious about your professional development, there are number of options you can pursue to further your education. You can take virtual classes from home or even consider going back to school.
Take it one step at a time and create a timeline and action plan that makes sense for you. If you do decide to study, you could also explore avenues to obtain real-life career education through volunteer work or internships in the career you plan to break into.
This article originally appeared on PayScale.