The average American person holds around 12 different jobs from the ages of 18 to 52, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number is only expected to rise as younger generations are added to surveys. Most millennials have already had twice as many jobs as their older counterparts did during their first ten years out of college.
The upshot is, if you’re considering a career change, even a midlife one — don’t panic. You’re certainly not alone. As different fields evolve and different companies emerge, it’s becoming more common to want to pivot to another job, salary, culture, and lifestyle.
While it can be daunting to imagine changing careers at any age, there are certain career switches that are made more often than others, including some that utilize skills you might already have.
The top 7 most common career pivots
1. Social media manager
You don’t have to be an influencer to become a social media manager for a brand, company, or firm — although it certainly doesn’t hurt. You also don’t necessarily need a degree or even a background in traditional marketing, although experience with analytics is useful. Social media strategy is an evolving field and one that often relies on guerilla marketing practices and trend literacy.
It’s far more important to show that you understand the inner workings of social media engagement, boosting posts, and creating professional branded content. Experience with graphic design or copywriting are sought-after additions to your resume, as well as making sure your own personal social accounts are good examples of your know-how.
In addition to opportunities to work from home, top earners with experience in social media marketing make up to 97k, with a median salary of around 60k per year. As more companies seek to build their digital presence, social media marketing is a career with growth potential as well as endless opportunities to innovate.
Find social media manager opportunities, here.
Are you active with any non-profit organizations? Maybe you give regularly to the arts, have a personal connection to a university or hospital, or volunteer at the local animal shelter or soup kitchen. Fundraising is a field with seemingly endless demand, and people who are passionate about the cause that they work for are valued team members in any development department. While having a wide personal network of possible donors is useful, knowing the nuts and bolts of it is helpful, too. Check out these event planning, grant writing, and/or marketing jobs available now. These are all sought-after skills in the field of fundraising.
The projected growth rate for fundraising is 14% for the years 2019 to 2029 – much faster than the average growth rate for other US occupations, which sits at just 4%. This high rate of projected expansion means that new opportunities to fundraise for a cause or organization you believe in are opening up almost every day. And, the Chronicle of Philanthropy has top-tier fundraisers earning $500,000 or more themselves.
3. Software and web developer
With the rise of coding schools, classes and boot camps, learning programming skills has become more accessible than ever before. The good news with making the jump into web development or programming is that you can acquire the new skill set you’ll need on your own time, before taking the plunge to leave your current job. The bad news is that more people than ever before are learning how to code, and competition in the field is fierce. Worldwide, software developers are expected to reach 27.7 million by 2023. That being said, only about 3.4 million of them are in the US at the moment.
With the all-important role that technology plays in so many people’s everyday lives, as well as in business and in government, learning how to code can score you a high-paying job with flexibility and impressive benefits working for almost any company or organization you can imagine. Coding is so important to today’s economy that former President Barack Obama once said that “everybody’s got to learn how to code.” While the highly technical, detail-oriented job may not be for everybody, anybody can learn how to do it, and it’s one of the most in-demand skillsets in the world today.
4. Environmental engineer
If you’ve ever wanted a job that gives you time both at the office and outdoors, solving real-world problems and synthesizing different sciences, then environmental engineering might be a good fit for you. Environmental engineers earn a median salary of around 87k, and often travel is a part of the job, as some work as consultants for shifting projects. Environmental engineers are often asked to understand a blend of soil science, biology, chemistry, civil or chemical engineering, and at times construction, in addition to environmental engineering.
It’s a field that requires education but rewards hands-on experience. Environmental engineers help protect the natural world from man-made problems and find solutions to help people co-exist within rapidly changing ecosystems. With an increased demand for water management in the US and around the world, environmental engineering will only become more popular in the years to come. Apply to become one, here.
If you’re bilingual or a native speaker of another language, you already have a marketable skill that’s probably going underutilized. While translation is more than just fluency, fluency is the first necessary step. Translators have a deep understanding of both written and verbal communication in at least two languages, as well as impeccable grammar and a cultural context in both languages. Certification or accreditation from a number of translation schools or programs is helpful, although not strictly necessary.
You might think that with the many translation software available today, the need for human interpreters is falling by the wayside – on the contrary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts as much as a 20% increase in the field of translation in the next 8 years, a much higher rate than average. Many translators work freelance, giving you the opportunity to set your own hours and build up your clientele before officially making a career shift.
It also helps to have specialized knowledge in certain fields. For instance, a bilingual pharmacist or physician’s assistant could easily build up a side business in medical translation, with their in-depth knowledge of the specific terminology required. If you’ve already been working in one field and are fluent in another language, a career as a translator becomes a very attainable career shift.
Check out translator jobs, here.
6. Real estate
Working in real estate is one of Glassdoor’s 50 Best Jobs for 2021, with a projected 8,000 or more openings for realtors, and a median base salary of 52k. (Although 18% of realtors make 6 figures, in line with the 80/20 rule.) The length of time needed to get a real estate license varies state by state, but often the courses can be taken online.
Pivoting to real estate makes sense for anyone looking to engage more closely with their community, who has experience with construction or contracts, or for homemakers looking to get back into the job market. Real estate is one of the most welcoming fields for anyone looking to make a career change: only 5% of real estate professionals report it as their first career, according to the National Association of Realtors, and the median age of its members is 52.
Turn your years of experience in your existing job into a new career as a consultant. Whether you’re pivoting to self-employment or looking to be hired at one of the big consulting firms, consulting is a popular second, third, or fourth career for many professionals. With a median salary of 75k, consultants can also regularly take home six figures, making it one of the most lucrative career shifts. It’s also an economic macrotrend, with a higher-than-average demand for market research analysts and management consultants.
Depending on whether or not you have an MBA, there are many different varieties of consulting to consider. Accounting and finance expertise is highly prized — find roles now in consulting, as is risk management, IT experience, project management, and stellar communication skills.
Consulting can be a flexible, rewarding way to maximize your experience with strategy and analysis while pivoting away from day-to-day operations. Consultants are experts in transitions and project management, whether working freelance or in-house. You can begin planting the seeds for a career in consulting by speaking at conferences, writing for trade publications, and expanding and strengthening your network of professional relationships.
The technological progress of the last 100 years has overall created more jobs than it has replaced. As industries evolve and new fields emerge, it makes sense that people are drawn to change their careers more frequently.
Taking the plunge to pivot to a new career can be frustrating and rewarding all at once. But if you play to your strengths, follow your passions, and explore without the expectation of instant reward, changing up your career path is more doable than ever before. And know that as you do it, you’re right on time.