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5 Ways Graduate School Can Pay Off

5 Ways Graduate School Can Pay Off

My partner teaches at the graduate level, and the value of a graduate degree is something I probably hear far too much about, frankly. If it were left up to Susan, it’s a safe bet everybody would have a PhD.

But, it’s tough to decide while you’re receiving a higher education whether or not you’re going to go all the way with it and enter the graduate level.

After all, once you decide to go for the graduate level, education is serious business. It requires an awful lot of work and a large time commitment, and believe me, those professors who teach at that level just don’t screw around-they demand the highest performance and the very best work.

You have to decide whether or not to put yourself through all that.

On the other hand, by obtaining a graduate level education, you’re investing in your future by showing potential employers that you have what it takes to do the hard work.

Obtaining a graduate level education has many, many advantages if you’re willing to put in the work for it.

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You’ve got the edge

To many employers, a bachelor’s is simply considered just one step above a high school degree today, and a graduate degree is almost expected from those who are a cut above the rest.

To identify more serious candidates, many companies are going to turn to the graduate degree, because they know just how much extra money, work and time you put into receiving this higher-level education.

When you’ve got a graduate-level degree, you clearly have the edge in today’s job market. Let’s face it: it’s a dog-eat-dog economy out there, and anything you can do to gain a competitive edge is clearly to your advantage.

That’s what a graduate degree will do for you.

A graduate degree will open doors for you that are closed to those with just a BA, as there are certain jobs that are open only to those with a graduate degree.

This is, after all, still a pretty exclusive club.

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Economic advantage

There are huge economic advantages that come with having a graduate-level degree, because the employer knows just how serious you are about higher education and work.

Obviously, when you hold certain graduate-level degrees, you’re going to benefit from the higher pay that comes with those degrees.

There are jobs which are open only to those with a graduate degree, and some of these are higher-paying jobs. Some jobs that require a graduate-level degree are also a lot more secure.

It’s a lot of trouble for an employer to find the right candidate at the graduate level, and these employers don’t want their candidates to walk out the door and go to somebody else, so they’re going to offer some solid job security.

At the graduate level, you are also more likely to write grants that will enable you to get paid for the research or projects that you really want to do.

Professional networking

Once you’re a part of this elite group of graduate-level professionals, you know you’re going to be working with some of the most-educated people in the world.

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Whether it’s conducting joint research or publishing in a peer-reviewed journal, you’re working with the very best.

When you’re networking with professionals at this level, you’re going to be privy to leads on jobs or research projects that you’d be locked out of at the bachelor’s level.

Being able to network at this level of professionalism will really pay off, because you’ll be more likely to get high-quality jobs or research projects that offer the best money, job satisfaction, and security.

Job diversity

When you’re pursuing a graduate-level degree, you’re going to be receiving a diverse education, which will really pay off in the work place.

Depending on the specific degree and the experiences it provides, you’ll be able to do everything from teaching at a university to engaging in specialized, high-paying contract work, like writing specific grants or conducting sophisticated industry research.

There’s no limit to the amount of diverse work a graduate-level degree will afford you.

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This diversity also helps determine what you may teach and opens up the market to various, more diverse jobs that a bachelor’s just doesn’t afford.

When you have this diversity of education, you have the option of picking and choosing from the very best jobs that are going satisfy you more and provide the financial security that you won’t find elsewhere.

Prestige

There’s certain amount of prestige that comes along with obtaining a graduate degree, and employers are going to respect that.  When you hold a graduate level degree, you don’t just get the honor of being called “doctor” or another title, you have the respect that comes along with that.

You’re going to be able to publish in the finest peer-reviewed journals, teach at the finest universities and have the choice of working for the best companies.

With a graduate degree, you’re going to able to command the respect that comes along with that.

Featured photo credit: COD Newsroom via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

How to Make a Career Change at 50 for Great Opportunities

How to Make a Career Change at 50 for Great Opportunities

Turning 50 is a milestone in anyone’s life, after all you are half way to 100! But seriously, turning 50 is often a time in life when people can sit back and take a look at where they’ve been and contemplate what the future holds.

Can you change careers at 50? It’s not uncommon for people in their 50’s to consider a career change, after all if you’ve spent 20 to 30 years in a career, chances are that some of the bloom is off the rose.

Often, when we are starting out in our 20’s, we choose a career path based on factors that are no longer relevant to us in our 50’s. Things like our parents’ expectations, a fast paced exciting lifestyle or the lure of making a lot of money can all be motivating factors in our 20’s.

But in our 50’s, those have given way to other priorities. Things like the desire to spend more time with family and friends, a slower paced less stressful lifestyle, the need to care for a sick spouse or elderly parents can all contribute to wanting a career change in your 50’s.

Just like any big life changing event, changing careers is scary. The good news is that just like most things we are scared of, the fear is mostly in our own head.

Understanding how to go about a career change at 50 and what you can expect should help reduce the anxiety and fear of the unknown.

What are Your Goals for a Career Change?

As in any endeavor, having properly defined goals will help you to determine the best path to take.

What are you looking for in a new career? Choosing a slower less stressful position that gives you more time with family and friends may sound ideal, but you’ll often find that you’re giving up some income and job satisfaction in the process.

Conversely, if your goal is to quit a job that is sucking the life from your soul to pursue a lifelong passion. You might be trading quality time with family and friends for job satisfaction.

Neither decision is wrong or bad, you just need to be aware of the potential pitfalls of any decision you make.

Types of Career Changes at 50+

There are four main types of career changes that people make in their 50’s. Each type has it’s unique set of challenges and will very in the degree of preparation required to make the change.

Industry Career Change

In this career change, a person remains in the same field but switches industries.

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With an industry change, a person takes their set of skills and applies them to an industry that they have no previous experience in.

An example would be a salesperson in the oil and gas industry becoming a salesperson for a media (advertising) company. They are taking their skill set (selling) and applying it to a different industry (media).

This type of career change is best accomplished by doing a lot of homework on the industry you want to get into as well as networking within the industry.

Functional Career Change

A functional career change would be a change of careers within the same industry.

For example, an accountant at a pharmaceutical company who changes careers to become a human resources manager. It may or may not be with the same company, but they remain within the pharmaceutical industry. In this case, they are leaving one set of skills behind (accounting) to develop a new set (human resource) within the same industry.

In a functional career change, new or additional training as well as certifications may be required in order to make the switch. If you are considering a functional career change, you can start by getting any training or certifications needed either online, through trade associations or at your local community college.

Double Career Change

This is the most challenging career change of all. A person doing a double career change is switching both a career and an industry.

An example of a double change would be an airline pilot quitting to pursue their dream of producing rock music. In that case, they are leaving both the aviation industry and a specific skill set (piloting) for a completely unrelated industry and career.

When considering a double career change, start preparing by getting any needed training or certifications first. Then you can get your foot in the door by taking an apprenticeship or part time job.

With a double change, it’s not uncommon to have to start out at the bottom as you are asking an employer to take a chance on someone without any experience or work history in the industry.

Entrepreneurial Career Change

Probably one of the most common career changes made by people in their 50’s is the entrepreneurial career change.

After 20 to 30 years of working for “Corporate America”, a lot of people become disillusioned with the monotony, politics and inefficiency of the corporate world. Many of us dream of having our own business and being our own boss.

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By this time in our life, we have saved some money and the financial pressures we had with young children have passed; so it’s a perfect time to spread our entrepreneurial wings.

Entrepreneurial career changes can be within the same industry and using your existing knowledge and contacts to start a similar business competing within the same industry. Or it can be completely unrelated to your former industry and based on personal interests, passions or hobbies.

A good example would be someone who played golf as a hobby starting an affiliate marketing website selling golf clubs. If you are considering an entrepreneurial career change, there are a lot of very good free resources available on the internet. Just be sure to do your homework.

Practical Tips on Making a Career Change at 50+

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and make a career switch in your 50’s. No matter what your reasons or what type of a career change you are embarking on, here are some helpful hints to make the transition easier:

1. Deal with the Fear

As stated earlier, any big life change comes with both fear and anxiety. Things never seem to go as smoothly as planned, you will always have bumps and roadblocks along the way. By recognizing this and even planning for it, you are less likely to let these issues derail your progress.

If you find yourself becoming discouraged by all of the stumbling blocks, there are always resources to help. Contacting a career coach is a good place to start, they can help you with an overall strategy for your career change as well as the interview and hiring process, resume writing / updating and more. Just Google “Career Coach” for your options.

I also recommend using the services of a professional counselor or therapist to help deal with the stress and anxiety of this major life event.

It’s always good to have an unbiased third party to help you work through the problems that inevitably arise.

2. Know Your “Why”

It’s important that you have a clear understanding of the “why” you are making this career change. Is it to have more free time, reduce stress, follow a passion or be your own boss?

Having a clear understanding of you personal “why” will influence every decision in this process. Knowing your “why” and keeping it in mind also serves as a motivator to help you reach your goals.

3. Be Realistic

Take an inventory of both your strengths and weaknesses. Are your organizational skills less than stellar? Then, becoming a wedding planner is probably not a good idea.

This is an area where having honest outside input can be really helpful. Most of us are not very good at accurately assessing our abilities. It’s a universal human trait to exaggerate our abilities while diminishing our weaknesses.

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Requesting honest feedback from friends and co-workers is a good place to start, but this is another area where a career coach can come in handy.

4. Consider an Ad-Vocation

Sometimes, making a career change all at once is just too big of a change. Issues like a severely reduced income, geography and lack of benefits can all be impediments to your career change. In those cases, you may want to start your new career as an ad-vocation.

An ad-vocation is a second or ad-on vocation in addition to your primary vocation. Things like a part-time job, consulting or even a side business can all be ad-vocations.

The benefit of having an ad-vocation is being able to build experience a reputation and contacts in the new field while maintaining all the benefits of your current job.

5. Update Your Skills

Whether it means acquiring new certifications or going back to school to get your cosmetology licence, having the right training is the foundation for a successful career change.

The great thing about changing careers now is that almost any training or certifications needed can be free or at very little cost online. Check with trade associations, industry websites and discussion groups for any requirements you may need.

Learn How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive.

6. Start Re-Branding Yourself Now

Use the internet and social media to change the way you present yourself online.

Changing your LinkedIn profile is a good way to show prospective employers that you are serious about a career change.

Joining Facebook groups, trade associations and discussion boards as well as attending conventions is a great way to start building a network while you learn.

Here’re some Personal Branding Basics You Need to Know for Career Success.

7. Overhaul Your Resume

Most of us have heard the advice to update our resume every six months, and most of us promptly ignore that advice and only update our resume when we need it.

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When making a career change, updating is not enough; this calls for a complete overhaul of your resume. Chances are that your current resume was designed around your old career which may or may not apply to your new goals.

Crafting a new resume emphasizing your strengths for the new position your looking for is key. There are many places that will help you craft a resume online and it is a service included with most career coaching services.

8. Know Your Timeline

There are a lot of factors when it comes to how long it will take to make the career change.

Industry and Functional career changes tend to be the easiest to do and therefore can be accomplished in the shortest period of time. While the Double Career Change and the Entrepreneurial Career Change both require more effort and thus time.

There are also personal factors involved in the time it will take to switch careers.

Generally speaking the more you are willing to be flexible with both compensation and geography, the shorter time it will take to make the switch.

Final Thoughts

Changing careers at anytime can be stressful, but for those of us who are 50 or above, it can seem to be an overwhelming task fraught with pitfalls and self doubt.

Prospective employers know the benefits that come with more mature employees. Things like a wealth of experience, a proven work history and deeper understanding of corporate culture are all things that older workers bring to the table.

And while the younger generation may possess better computer or technical skills than us, if you’re willing to learn, there are a ton of free or nearly free resources available to you.

Deciding on a career change at 50 is a great way to experience life on your own terms.

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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