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Last Updated on June 13, 2019

17 Best Careers Worth Going Back to School for at 40

17 Best Careers Worth Going Back to School for at 40

Making a career switch is no easy decision, especially when considering the change at 40 or older. You might be wondering which careers are really worth going back to school for at this stage in your career and if the time (and money) spent seeking a degree or certification is worth the payoff.

Luckily, there are several fields worth the mid-career return to school whether income, job security, happiness, or fulfillment at work is your focus for making the switch.

To help you get started, we’ve rounded up 17 careers across 6 fields with help from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that are absolutely worth the investment of returning to school.[1]

Healthcare

1. Registered Nurse

With a stable and constant projected growth and a median salary of $70,000 per year,[2] nursing is a secure career choice worth returning to school for.

To succeed in this field, expect to provide care, education, and support to patients with varying medical needs within hospitals, physician’s offices, and/or through home care.

Time in School: 2 to 4 years

Nursing students can shoot for an associate’s degree in nursing (2 years), a nursing-school specific diploma (time varies), or a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (4 years).

2. Medical Administrative Assistant

If you prefer to work in the medical field without direct contact with patients, then a career as a medical secretary may suit you well. The median salary of these professionals is around $34,610 per year.

Medical secretaries do more than just set appointments. Often, this role also handles medical reports, billing, and creating medical charts. Successful candidates for this position will need a strong grasp on clerical skills as well as basic medical knowledge of terminology, technology, and procedures.

Time in School: Around 2 years

While entry-level positions may be offered to those with only a high-school diploma, taking specific training can help an aspiring medical administrative assistant land a position faster.

Many community colleges and technical schools offer programs specific to medical administrative duties, where students learn the basics of administrative work, as well as the specific medical technology they will need to succeed in their roles.

3. Physical Therapist

Another fantastic option within the Healthcare field, physical therapists can earn a median salary of around $86,850 per year. A successful Physical Therapist will help patients manage pain and improve physical movement due to injuries, illnesses, and after procedures.

Time in School: Around 7 years

To become a physical therapist, you will need to earn a doctorate in physical therapy (3 years) in addition to a Bachelor of Science Degree (4 years). If you’re just starting fresh with no prior college education, many degree programs offer a 6-year degree program to complete all requirements from start to finish.

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While on the longer end of time from starting education to completion, the job satisfaction and salaries reported by America’s physical therapists make this career well worth the wait.[3]

Technology

4. Software Developer

The tech industry won’t be slowing down anytime soon. In fact, as tech continues to take over the workforce, this career is a secure, safe, and even lucrative choice when considering a career switch.

The median salary for a software developer is currently around $103,560 per year. To earn that salary, expect to be creating programs for devices such as computers, smartphones, tablets, and more!

Time in School: About 4 years

Successful software developers often earn a Bachelor of Science degree in either computer science or software engineering. If you have an associate’s degree, you may be able to complete a Bachelor of Science degree program in as little as two years.

5. Web Developer

A web developer is just as it sounds—a professional who designs websites from start to finish for a median salary of around $67,990 per year. Web developers can work as part of a design or marketing agency, work as freelancers, or even start their own businesses creating websites for other businesses and professionals.

Time in School: 2 to 4 years

Web developers need to be well-versed in both coding and graphic design, as they often create both the back-end and the front-end of a website themselves. due to this balance of skills, there are actually many routes one can take to jump-start a career in web development.

An associates degree or a four-year degree in web design is highly common in this field, but a mix of graphic design and coding for web courses can help start this career as well. It’s not unusual for many web developers to be completely self-taught, either, which is definitely something to consider to save time and money.

6. Information Security Analyst

With a median salary of around $95,510 per year, information security analysts help protect the information and data of their business and organization clients. These professionals are often planning and creating strategies to combat cyber-security attacks with both businesses and consumers in mind.

Additionally, information security can be a highly lucrative career when working in conjunction with the U.S. military, where those with security clearances can earn at or well above the median salary.

Time in School: Around 4 years

Information security analysts typically earn a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in a tech-related field such as information assurance, computer science, and/or programming.

One thing to note: Employers often look for experience within their given niche. For example, a financial institution looking to hire an information security analyst is more likely to hire one with experience in finance technology. This is an excellent chance to make your past experience work for you, even within a new career.

Finance

7. Accountant

Accountants (and auditors) work with financial reports, taxes, and records. Their job is to ensure all financial information, whether for a business, professional, or individual, is accurate and that taxes are paid properly and promptly. If you’re considering a career as an accountant, expect to see a median salary of $69,350 per year.

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Time in School: Around 4 to 6 years

Many auditors and accountants have a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. Alternatively, there has been a shift in employers preferring those with a master’s degree, either in accounting or a related field in business. A bachelors degree will set you back about four years, and a masters degree about two.

8. Financial Analyst

Unlike an accountant who focuses on the taxes and records side of a business, a financial consultant often deals with stocks and investments and guides both businesses and individuals in financial decisions. The median salary for a financial analyst is $84,300, or $40.53 per hour.

Time in School: About 4 years

Pursuing a career as a financial analyst creates a generous amount of freedom when choosing a degree field. Typically, a four-year degree in either economics, statistics, finance, or even mathematics can be suitable for this career path. Whichever path you may choose, a wide variety of fields are open to you as more often than not, all types of businesses need the expertise of a financial analyst.

Education

9. Elementary School Teacher

A career in teaching can be a rewarding and secure choice, as elementary school teaching positions are at an average growth rate that is predicted to stay more or less the same in future years. While starting salaries may be low for new teachers, the median salary for elementary teaching positions is $57,160.

Time in School: At least 4 years

In addition to a bachelors degree, elementary school teachers must also obtain a license or certification issued by the state in which they work. Expect a fair amount of continuing education to account for curriculum changes and new teaching materials over time.

10. Higher Education Professor

If you prefer to work with more mature pupils, a career in higher education can be just as rewarding as you work to help students succeed in their future careers. Additionally, the median salary for a career in higher education is considerable at $76,000 per year.

What’s more, becoming a college professor can also allow you to work from anywhere as several colleges and universities offer online degree programs for their students.

Time in School: At least 2 to 8 years post-grad

Most traditional four-year institutions require professors to have at least a master’s, if not a doctoral degree. Pursuing a doctoral at age 40 might seem daunting, but if you’ve previously completed a bachelor’s degree, you can easily expand this degree into a master’s or even a doctoral degree in a major related to your previous field of study.

Even if you don’t want to spend quite that much time in school, you’re still in luck—many private, state, and community colleges opt to hire higher education professors who’ve earned master’s degree with demonstrated expertise in their field.

11. Academic Success Counselor

If you desire a career in education but prefer to work outside of the classroom, then consider becoming an academic success counselor. These professionals provide guidance and support for students in higher education, helping them navigate the journey to completing their degrees.

The median salary for school counselors (or academic success counselors) is $55,410.

Time in School: About 4 to 6 years

Most schools require counselors to have a master’s degree as well as a certification or credential in school counseling. A good idea is to also specialize in career development, especially if you’re considering becoming a counselor in higher education.

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If you have some previous education under your belt, like an associate’s degree, the time to complete all schooling for a career as a school counselor can take as little as four years.

Marketing

12. Market Research Analyst

With a growth rate of 26% and climbing, a career as a market research analyst is a secure choice for a career change.[4] Even better, these professionals can work in a variety of fields, as several types of organizations often need the skills of a market research analyst to run their businesses.

So just what does a market research analyst do? Typically, this position aims to study and predict trends among a target market for a specific business, helping to predict who to target for sales and how to sell to them. A career as a market research analyst earns a median salary of about $63,230 per year.

Time in School: Up to 4 years

These positions typically require a bachelor’s degree in a field relating to market research. Additionally, strong analytical skills, as well as a tight grasp on mathematics, will help the aspiring market research analyst go far.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a similar field, but feel the need to get more education under your belt, a master’s degree in market research is always eye-catching to employers.

13. Search Engine Optimization Specialist

A relatively new career compared to the others in this roundup, search engine optimization specialists blend market research, web development, and advertising to succeed in their roles.

Simply put, they work closely with the algorithms of search engines like Google and Bing to bring traffic to their clients’ websites, where the goal of that traffic can be anything from higher views and more social media engagement to increased sales.

According to Payscale, the median salary for a search engine optimization specialist is around $55,530 per year, and the role boosts an impressive job satisfaction rate.[5]

Time in School: Up to 4 years

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a fast-paced and ever-changing aspect of internet marketing. As such, there aren’t degree programs specific to the role, as the teachings could change in the blink of an eye. Instead, expect to seek a degree in fields such as business, digital marketing, and data analytics.

If you’re considering a career as an SEO specialist, be prepared for frequent continuing education in the form of industry-recognized digital marketing courses and certifications, such as those offered by Google and Hubspot.

14. Public Relations Specialist

Think you can cultivate and maintain a dynamic and positive public image for a business? That’s exactly what the role of a public relations specialist entails.

These professionals are responsible for handling announcements, press releases, and social media campaigns. Public relations specialists often earn a median income of around $59,300 per year.

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Time in School: About 4 years

A career in public relations often requires a bachelor’s degree in public relations, communications, business, or journalism. If you possess strong writing and communication skills, a career as a public relations specialist could be a great fit for you.

Business Administration

15. Project Manager

Those with exceptional organization and management skills would do well to consider a career as a project manager. These professionals manage several aspects of a business from internal communications to team members and, of course, projects. The median salary for a project manager is around $67,280 per year.[6]

Time in School: Up to 4 years

Due to the flexibility of the position, those seeking a career in project management can pursue a degree in a wide variety of fields, such as business management, computer science, marketing, or even engineering, depending on the field you want to work in.

16. Executive Administrative Assistant

An executive administrative assistant handles clerical tasks for their businesses on advanced levels. In addition to carrying out clerical tasks like filing and call routing (as an entry-level administrative assistant would), executive assistants often prepare critical reports, documents, and oversee/train lower-level staff.

Time in School: Up to 4 years

Expect to earn a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts degree in a business-related field. Your field of study will typically be determined by the type of business you wish to work for.

If you desire to work int he financial field, a financial-related business management degree can help prepare you for the high-level tasks expected of an executive administrative assistant.

17. Human Resources Manager

Another administrative role, human resource managers handle the employee side of a business. These professionals specialize in recruiting and hiring new employees for the business and often work with high-level executives on strategy.

Additionally, they act as a bridge between an employer and its employees while managing the relationships of employees as well.

The median salary for a human resources manager is about $110,120 per year.

Time in School: Up to 4 years

A bachelor’s degree in human resources and strong interpersonal and communication skills are required for a career as a human resources manager. Additionally, employers often value varying types of previous work experience from administrative tasks and reporting to customer service and team management.

Final Words

While heading back to school in the middle of your career can seem daunting, you now have a clearer idea of what to expect when narrowing your selection to careers worthy of making the switch.

The best part is, at 40 and older, you’ve already accumulated several years of valuable life and work experience, and can use this experience to guide you through the next chapter, or use it to help give you a boost in your new career.

More About Changing Lifecourse Late

Featured photo credit: Persnickety Prints via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics: Careers in different fields
[2] Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurse
[3] Bureau of Labor Statistics: America’s physical therapists
[4] Bureau of Labor: Market Research Analysts
[5] PayScale: Average Senior Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist Salary
[6] Bureaux of Labor Statistics: Project coordinator

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Kileen Robinson

Kileen helps people live their most productive lives possible, one article at a time.

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Last Updated on November 20, 2019

How to Measure a Goal? (With Examples of Measurable Goals)

How to Measure a Goal? (With Examples of Measurable Goals)

Everyone sets goals. Whether they are daily goals like completing a project, personal aspirations like traveling the world, or even workplace targets, setting a goal isn’t enough to get you over the line unfortunately. This is why only eight percent of people achieve their goals.[1]

So how do the high achievers do it?

By setting measurable goals, keep track of them and progress towards these goals.

To help you out, I’ve put together a simple guide on measuring goals. I’ll show you a SMART framework you can use to create measurable goals, and how you can track its progress.

To begin, let me introduce you to the SMART acronym.

What Is a Measurable SMART Goal?

SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. They help set clear intentions, this way, you can continue staying on course.

When you’re writing a SMART Goal, you need to work through each of the terms in the acronym to ensure it’s realistic and achievable.

It’ll help you set specific and challenging goals that eliminate and vagueness and guesswork. It’ll also have a clear deadline so you know when you need to complete it by.

Here’s what SMART stand for:

Specific

Your goals need to be specific. Without specificity, your goal will feel much harder to complete and stick to.

They should also have a specific outcome. Without the outcome, it will be hard to focus and stay on task with your goals.

I can’t stress this enough. In fact, two researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, found that when people set specific yet challenging goals, it led to increased performance 90 percent of the time.[2]

Here’s an example of a specific goal:

Increase sales by 10% in 90 days. 

Measurable

You need to be able to measure these goals.

Examining a key metric and quantifying your goals will help track your progress. It will also identify the mark at which you’ve completed your task.

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Measurable can mean many different things, but generally speaking, you want to be able to objectively measure success with a goal.

Whether it’s via analytical data, performance measures, or direct revenue, ensure your goal is quantifiable.

Achievable

Why do you want to reach this goal? Is it important for you or your organization?

Once you identify the key benefit, add that into your goal, so it helps your team members understand the importance of the goal and how it contributes to the bigger picture.

Relevant

Why do you want to reach this goal? Is it important for you or your organization?

Once you identify the key benefit, add that into your goal so it helps your team members understand the importance of the goal and how it contributes to the bigger picture.

Timely

This is one of my favorite parts of SMART goals….setting the deadline.

The timeframe will create a sense of urgency. It functions as a healthy tension that will springboard you to action.

Examples of Measurable Goals

Now that we know what a SMART goal is, it’s time to help you make your own SMART goal.

Let’s start with the first step: specificity.

Specific

A specific goal should identify:

  • What’s the project or task at hand?
  • Who’s responsible for the task? If you’re breaking the task down, who is responsible for each section?
  • What steps do you need to do to reach your goal?

Here’s a bad example:I want to have a better job.

This example is poor because it’s not specific enough. Sure, it’s specific to your work, but it doesn’t explain whether you want a promotion, a raise, a career change, etc.

What about your current job do you want to improve? Do you want to change companies? Or are you striving for more work-life balance? What does “better” really mean?

Let’s transform this into a good example.

I want to find a new role at a Fortune 500 company that improves my current salary and work-life balance.

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If you’re not too sure what the specific outcome should be, you can use mindmaps to brainstorm all the possible options. Then choose a few or one from the mindmap.

With the example above, to become a better growth marketer, I have to explore different learning options like online courses, blogs, books, or in-person courses before I made a decision.

Measurable

Goals need to be measurable in a way where you can present tangible, concrete evidence. You should be able to identify what you experience when reaching that goal.

Ideally, you should go for a metric or quantity as quantifying goals makes it easier to track.

Here’s a bad example:

I will get a promotion at work for improving quality

Here’s a good example:

I am going to land a promotion to senior VP by improving my work quality. When I say work quality, I will measure this by projects completed, revenue earned, and success factors important to my superiors.

If you’re having difficulty measuring your goals, you can use a goal tracking app. They’re a great way to measure your progress, especially if it’s time-based.

In addition, I love to use the following strategy to keep myself accountable and ensure I’m hitting goals:

Reminder emails.

I schedule emails to myself asking for measurable data on my goals, and even CC others to hold me accountable.

For example, if you work with a team, CC them on your email to keep yourself honest and on-track.

Here are five methods you can use to measure your progress towards the goal:

  1. Keep a record – Have you recorded all your actions?
  2. Assess your numbers/evidence – Are you breaking your commitments?
  3. Create a checklist – Can you simplify your tasks?
  4. Stay on course – Are you moving forward with your plan smoothly?
  5. Rate your progress – Can you do better?

Achievable

When it comes to being able to achieve your goals, you should stick to Pareto’s principle. If you’re not too sure what it is, it’s the 80/20 rule.

Don’t just attack and go for everything at once! Pick things that give you the most results. Then, work on the next objective or goal once you’ve completed your first ones.

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Here’s a bad example:

To get more work-life balance, I will examine all factors of my work and how to trim down the time I spend on them.

Here’s a good example:

This week I will record my time spent on projects to analyze the amount of revenue or success they generate. Projects that fall short of production will get less time and resources than others. 

Relevant

It’s always important to examine your goal to ensure it’s relevant and realistic to what you’re doing.

This is where the bigger picture comes in.

Here’s a bad example:

I want to be promoted to CMO because I need more responsibility.

In this case, it’ll be unlikely for you to receive a promotion if the purpose and reason behind your goals are not strong.

Here’s a good example:

I want to be promoted to CMO because I enjoy digital marketing. I’m currently excelling in X, Y, and Z digital marketing practices, and I believe that via a promotion I can further grow the business via X, Y and Z.

The why will help you grind out in moments when you just want to throw in the towel, and also provide more purpose for your goals.

Timely

And…finally we’ve hit the deadline.

Having a due date helps your team set micro goals and milestones towards the goal.

That way, you can plan workload throughout your days, weeks, and months to ensure that your team won’t be racing against the clock.

Let’s start with a bad example:

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I’m going to land a new promotion this summer.

Now, let’s turn this into a great example:

Within the next month I will increase marketing revenue by XX%. Then, within three months I will expand the digital team, hire two new employees and scale it. Within five months I will leverage this success into a new role.

So that’s how you create a measurable goal.

Here’s a summary of the example above in the order of its acronyms.

Overall Goal: I want to transition into a new role with a reputable company.

  • S: I want to find a new role at a Fortune 500 company that improves my current salary and work-life balance.
  • M: I am going to land a promotion to senior VP by improving my work quality. When I say work quality, I will measure this by projects completed, revenue earned, and success factors important to my superiors.
  • A: This week I will record my time spent on projects to analyze the amount of revenue or success they generate. Projects that fall short of production will get less time and resources than others.
  • R: I want to be promoted to CMO because I enjoy digital marketing. I’m currently excelling in X, Y, and Z digital marketing practices, and I believe that via a promotion I can further grow the business via X, Y and Z.
  • T: Within the next month I will increase marketing revenue by XX%. Then, within three months I will expand the digital team, hire two new employees and scale it. Within five months I will leverage this success into a new role.

But before we finish off, I want to leave you with a note:

If you want to ensure you reach your goals, make sure you’re accountable. Ensure that you will stick by the goal and deliver the results that you want. Because sometimes, the goal might not just be for you. It could be goals for your clients, customers, and even loved ones.

For example:

Here, Housecall Pro promises customers that they grow up to 30% in one year.

By placing that statement on their landing page, they’re keeping themselves and their goals accountable to their customers.

For personal goals, tell your friends and family.

For professional goals, you can tell your peers, colleagues, and even your clients (once you’re ready).

Bottom Line

So to wrap things up, if you want to measure a goal, be SMART about it.

Start with a specific outcome in mind; make sure it’s measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely to your existing schedule.

While 92 percent of people fail to reach their goals, you can be the exception.

Reach your goals by setting targets and objectives together.

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Green Chameleon via unsplash.com

Reference

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