Rising Tide Blog

If you’re considering a career change, make sure you consider the financial implications

Posted by Matt Hale

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January. It may be the beginning of a new year but it also signals the end of holidays for many Australians. We pack away the board shorts and sarongs and suits and work-wear once again take prominence in our wardrobe. Trudging back to the office on that first day back for the year can be tough even for those who proclaim to love their job year-round so it’s no surprise that many people find themselves contemplating a career change in early January.

Often people find it’s just a bit of ‘first week back’ syndrome but what happens if you find that the feeling lingers? How do you know when to stick it out with what you’re doing or jump ship and try something new? Unfortunately, it’s almost as never as simple as just “following your passion” no matter how many motivational bloggers tell you so. With family responsibilities, mortgages and other expenses, it is vital that you consider money as part of your thought process. If you are thinking about going in a new direction, here are some things I recommend thinking about before you take the plunge.

My career change checklist:

If I become a florist/lawyer/teacher (or whatever it is that you want to do), what will my income likely be and how will it compare to my current income?

Yes, following your passion in life is important. But so is being able to afford everything you enjoy in your life like dinners out, holidays and gym memberships. Make sure you investigate what the standard salary is for your your new career of choice and most importantly, think about what it will mean for your life. If you’re income is likely to decrease, make sure you understand how that will affect you.

Do I need to leave my current role in order to retrain or can I study part-time while maintaining my job?

If you can stay in your current role while you retrain, I thoroughly recommend doing this. Switching to full-time study as an adult with financial responsibilities is extremely difficult and maintaining your current income while you are studying is much more preferable. If you think working and studying at the same time will be too much, consider asking your current employer if you can drop down to part-time.

What are job prospects like for my new career of choice? Am I likely to get hired quickly once I’m qualified?

Do a job search on seek and have a chat to someone working in the industry you’re interested in to get an idea of job prospects. It’s all very well to retrain, but those new qualifications won’t be much good if you can’t get a job at the end of all that study.

What are the long-term salary prospects of my career of choice?

When you start out in any field, often the salary is relatively low to begin with so it’s worth looking in to how the salary in your chosen field will change over time.

How will changing my career impact my partner/family?

This is number one in my mind. If you have a family, a decision like this is no longer just about you. Maybe you pay private school fees that rely on your current wage or you go on a family holiday every year that wouldn’t be possible without your income. Talk to your family about what would change if you were to make the move and make sure you have their support before you make the jump.