Changing Careers: Motivation for Going Back to School

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Going back to school as a parent is difficult decision to make. There are so many reasons to go back to school. Some never started, some never finished, others are pursuing a higher degree, and some want a career change. There are always reasons to go back to school, but it is important to do research before plunging into a time intensive and costly endeavor.

Getting Your Degree

Technology has made it much easier for people to earn their degrees. There are universities that are strictly online while many brick and mortar schools have online options. Not all schools are created equal, however. It is vital to do due diligence to ensure that the right school has been chosen for the right goal.

One aspect of a top online university is its willingness to help students. Most universities have faculty in place to help students apply for grants, FAFSA, or scholarships to helps ease the cost of earning a degree. Advisors are put in place to talk new students through the proper path to get to their degree without taking unnecessary classes and to reach their goal quicker. The most important aspect when choosing a university is accreditation. Accreditation is an official certification that a school or course has met standards set by external regulators.

Online Universities

According to, the top 10 universities offering online degrees are:

1. Penn State World Campus
2. University of Florida (Distance Learning)
3. University of Massachusetts Online
4. Boston University
5. Northeastern University
6. Indiana University – IU Online
7. Arizona State University – ASU Online
8. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
9. University of Arizona
10. Oregon State University – OSU Ecampus

Many things are considered when ranking a university. They are ranked by number of students attending, number of degree programs offered, cost, retention rate, graduation rate, etc. Individuals should not pick the #1 school listed simply because it is #1. Everyone has different needs for their degrees and choosing a school should be done with thought and research.

Career Change

Another reason a working parent may choose to go to school is to change their career path. Whether the market is saturated in a certain job or the current job is no longer fulfilling, many people make career changes later in life. Just like picking a university, it is important to research career fields so when the change is made, getting a job is a likelihood and not just a hope. Keep in mind that many hiring career fields may require experience and a degree while others may not require a degree and some have entry-level positions open.

When researching hirable fields, reports focus on various things. Some may choose to list job fields based on income while others will list job fields based on availability. When seeking a new career, determine what will be important in the future as opposed to what seems necessary in the moment. Will the new job sustain your family in ten years? Is the demand high now but there could be significant lay offs? Are you capable of a physically demanding job for a long period of time? These questions, and more, are important questions when determining a new career trajectory.

In Demand Career Fields

Here are ten career fields (most of which require a degree) that are in demand:

1. Medical Field
Nurses are in high demand, and it doesn’t look like that is going to change any time soon. It is estimated that the demand for healthcare is going to double in the next decade.

2. Technology Sector
It’s clear that technology isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. The technology field has had the most growth and there’s no sign it is going to stop.

3. Financial Services
Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are going to be in demand as companies do away with pension plans and employees seek guidance for retirement plans.

4. Educators
As the economy changes, many adults are returning to school and universities must keep up with the enrollment. There is flexibility in schedules and the hiring rate is expected to increase over the next decade. Teaching at an elementary, middle, or high school level is also a field that is seeing an increase in hiring.

5. Technical Jobs
Many technical jobs require certifications but not degrees, which can be beneficial as the education process is shorter and less expensive. Physical therapist assistants, dental hygienists, and veterinary technicians are all technical jobs fields that are expected to grow significantly over the next few years.

6. Business Service Jobs
Service jobs account for more than 70% of all jobs in the United States. Two specific business service jobs that are expected to see noteworthy growth: environmental health and safety specialists and construction estimators.

7. Sales Jobs
Sales positions are not for the faint of heart as they are stressful and high pressure. For those who can do sales, the payout can be incredible and climbing the ladder equals more pay. Sales positions are found in so many organizations and many positions are always seeking employees. Sales jobs almost always have an entry-level position which is beneficial for those lacking experience on their resume.

8. Consulting Jobs
Consultants work to save a company money while increasing performance. While many consulting positions will see growth, the management and healthcare consultants will see the most significant growth over the next decade. This is one of the most lucrative industries for job seekers.

9. Engineering Jobs
The engineering industry is aching to find quality engineers. Structural, project, civil, and environmental engineers will see almost a 25% increase, but biomedical engineers will see a staggering 72% increase with an average starting salary of over $75,000.

10. Middle Management Jobs
Mid-level management is just as important as top-level management. Many firms hire from within and a degree can often move an employee up to a management position. Risk management, in particular, is expected to see a healthy increase in job growth.

The important thing is to decide and stick with it. The payoff is worth it.

Making the transition to become a student or to change careers is not an easy one to make. Working mothers need to do their due diligence to determine if the hardship now will pay off in the future. Often, pursuing a degree in a specific field where there is job growth will benefit the family in the long run. The key is to find balance while pursing the degree or to lessen the chaos while changing careers.

These kinds of decisions are personal ones and while advice can be sought from outside sources, the ultimate decisions can only be made by the individual (and spouse). Going back to school while a parent is not for the faint of heart. Changing careers, for anyone, is never an easy route. The important thing is to decide and stick with it. The payoff is worth it.

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About Sarah Begley

Sarah Begley currently resides in Fountain, CO with her husband and three children. Sarah is an Army veteran who deployed to Iraq in 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; she served as both a motor transport operator and a medical specialist and was honorably discharged in 2009. Sarah has her B.A. in Communications and M.A. in Strategic Communication. She has a passion for volunteering and has been awarded the Yellow Rose of Texas by former Governor Rick Perry as well as the Commander’s Award for Public Service. Sarah currently works for Foundation for Women Warriors, a non-profit organization that helps women veterans. In her free time, Sarah enjoys playing the piano and violin, baking goodies of all kinds, and reading any historical non-fiction book she can find, with particular interest in British history and military history.

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