Author Topic: Seeking career change advice  (Read 879 times)

ArtistGrowingMustache

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Seeking career change advice
« on: June 06, 2019, 05:50:42 PM »
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TL;DR -  I'm evaluating the option of going back to school for a career change.  Possibly for physical therapy.  Any suggestions on other in demand careers I should consider?  Engineering/programming don't appeal to me.
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Hello, first post here and I'm hoping to get some advice from the board about a potential career change.

First, a few stats for background:

 34 years old, single, no kids.
$170k net worth, only debt is my mortgage
LCOL midsize city with a lagging economy
$47k salary, between $5k to $10k of side income. 
Saving about $25k right now annually.

I originally went to school for a masters in public administration, wanting to work for a nonprofit.  When I graduated the job market was awful and I was fighting it out for $14 an hour nonprofit jobs.  I eventually went to work for a huge corporation where I forecast staffing needs and report on performance for a somewhat inglorious but necessary side of the business.

I like my job pretty well.  I have low stress, a good work environment, and a great boss.  The downside is that any career progression would require a move across the country and I can really only count on 3% raises annually.  I don't see a future there.  I also don't really see many other jobs outside the company I am interested in with my current qualifications.

So, I'm considering potential career changes.  I don't enjoy engineering/IT/programming.  I love fitness, nutrition, and art.  It is very important to me that a new career is in pretty high demand after my last awful experience on the job hunt.  The salary needs to be decent at least, but I'm more concerned about being in demand and feeling good about what I do.  I don't want to move, although would consider moving temporarily for training/schooling.

I'm considering physical therapy, but would appreciate any other suggestions.  I don't want to get in massive debt and it would be great if I could work my current job while becoming qualified for the next, but not totally necessary.  I have some down time at work that could be spent studying for classes.

Enigma

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Re: Seeking career change advice
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2019, 06:07:25 PM »
Given your background, I would try to transition into human resources or management at a large company.  That or even look into moving to an MCOL or HCOL area to build your career some.  It is easy to get into a routine and stay in an LCOL area.  Try and max everything out and climb the social ladder for a while.  After building that retirement fund you could fall back on something that has to do with the gym or physical therapy.

Then again if your passion is the gym.  There is nothing wrong with that.  You could just focus on PT, fitness, and nutrition.  If you find a job you love you really never work a day in your life.  Both I think are pretty good paths in life.

ArtistGrowingMustache

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Re: Seeking career change advice
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2019, 07:05:27 PM »
Given your background, I would try to transition into human resources or management at a large company.  That or even look into moving to an MCOL or HCOL area to build your career some.  It is easy to get into a routine and stay in an LCOL area.  Try and max everything out and climb the social ladder for a while.  After building that retirement fund you could fall back on something that has to do with the gym or physical therapy.

Then again if your passion is the gym.  There is nothing wrong with that.  You could just focus on PT, fitness, and nutrition.  If you find a job you love you really never work a day in your life.  Both I think are pretty good paths in life.

Thanks for your reply!  One of the reasons I took my current job was actually to try to transition into HR.  When I applied for an HR job at my company they wouldn't consider me due to lack of experience.  They wanted someone with an HR job title, even though it was about the same level of responsibility as what I do now.  I think where I live HR jobs are in low supply with many applicants.  The job ended up going to someone with experience, a degree, and a certification from outside the company.  In my job search before my current job I applied for probably 20 to 30 low level HR jobs without a single call back.  It is experiences like these that make me long to be qualified for something that companies actively recruit.

If I don't end up pulling the trigger on a career change, then management is certainly where I'll be job hunting.  Sounds like a lot of politics, emails, and long hours though.

In the short term I am probably going to begin studying to be a personal trainer as a side gig.  I have trouble seeing it as a viable career where I live.  Salaries are low and health doesn't appear to be a high priority for many.

BicycleB

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Re: Seeking career change advice
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2019, 06:00:02 PM »
My observation is that fitness, art and nutrition are not generally high paying fields (alas...I have had family members in each of these fields). Small numbers of stars do well, median practicioners not so much.

HR seems a wise focus in that it doesn't go out of style too much, and gets medium pay. But MPA's who work in govt get medium pay too. Can you explore govt jobs with your MPA, rather than merely nonprofit? There are quite a few MPAs earning solid wages in govt, plus good benefits.

I worked in a govt office where there were HR people who analyzed data about pay ranges across our state, with the purpose of revising the pay ranges periodically based on market rates. Where are the govt jobs in your state?

How much time and money does it take to become a PT? What is the expected pay increase, and how long would the payback period be? Can you compare the time-to-FIRE of the PT path, an HR path, and a govt path in order to boil down the decision to "time" vs "drudgery" factors?

Glad that you are exploring. It seems that to succeed, you will need to overcome a couple of hurdles no matter which path you take. You will be much happier when you get over the hurdles, I think. Good luck!!!

ArtistGrowingMustache

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Re: Seeking career change advice
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2019, 05:56:54 AM »
My observation is that fitness, art and nutrition are not generally high paying fields (alas...I have had family members in each of these fields). Small numbers of stars do well, median practicioners not so much.

HR seems a wise focus in that it doesn't go out of style too much, and gets medium pay. But MPA's who work in govt get medium pay too. Can you explore govt jobs with your MPA, rather than merely nonprofit? There are quite a few MPAs earning solid wages in govt, plus good benefits.

I worked in a govt office where there were HR people who analyzed data about pay ranges across our state, with the purpose of revising the pay ranges periodically based on market rates. Where are the govt jobs in your state?

How much time and money does it take to become a PT? What is the expected pay increase, and how long would the payback period be? Can you compare the time-to-FIRE of the PT path, an HR path, and a govt path in order to boil down the decision to "time" vs "drudgery" factors?

Glad that you are exploring. It seems that to succeed, you will need to overcome a couple of hurdles no matter which path you take. You will be much happier when you get over the hurdles, I think. Good luck!!!

The state government jobs in my state are mostly in the capital city, which is not a nice place to live.  It is almost a certainty that government work would require some relocation, which I would much prefer to avoid.   At this point I don't really have faith in a government career being accessible, stable, and profitable.  After graduating I put in over 100 applications total and many were government jobs.  I had 2 interviews with them.  My resume is better now, of course.  The job search in question was during the latter part of the big recession.

The physical therapy program cost would vary quite a bit depending on where I got in.  At my home town the program is 30k for everything and I could live in my house. Lost wages are the bigger issue. They do seem to be in demand.  The local program reports on the percent of licensed graduates who find work within 6 months and it is about 100 percent.  The median salary is around $80k.

 I would need to take some prerequisites and get some things in order, so it would be probably 1 or 2 years out for me to start and a 3 year program.  I would keep my current job until the start of the program.  I'd find part time work during the program.  So, probably $75k to $100k in lost wages.

ArtistGrowingMustache

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Re: Seeking career change advice
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2019, 06:26:37 AM »
Are you open to relocation? It seems that this would open up your career prospects with your existing degree.

Unless you have a huge drive to be a PT it makes more sense to use your current degree to further your career. You do have a master degree already after all. Do not think you need to go back to school in order to make a career change. I'm a corporate recruiter and I see people with all kinds of degrees end up in positions that are not really directly applicable to their degree.

If you do go back to school, take into consideration:
Cost of degree, not only in terms of tuition but also any lost income if you go back to school full time
Average annual salary for PT
How long would it take you to break even? Is there a strong demand in your local area for PT's or even Nationwide?

PT is a pretty intense job, you should ask to see if you can shadow a PT before you take the plunge.

If you want to stay local, you should pull up the list of biggest employers in your area and see what they typically hire for.

It sounds like you have been at this company for a while. Take a look at what's out there before you shell out money and time for an education. Go to some interviews, do some research. There may be more locally than you think  If there's no compelling reason to stay in your town, consider moving somewhere with better job prospects.

Also, if having an in demand job is important you may need to look outside of art and fitness and into more technical fields, it's just the reality. Technical degrees are more often a great return on your educational investment. However i do like the idea of being a fitness trainer on the side.

Good luck!

I'd prefer to avoid relocation, mostly due to family reasons.  In my city, engineering and medical are in demand, same as about anywhere else. 

"Unless you have a huge drive to be a PT it makes more sense to use your current degree to further your career. You do have a master degree already after all. Do not think you need to go back to school in order to make a career change. I'm a corporate recruiter and I see people with all kinds of degrees end up in positions that are not really directly applicable to their degree."

I have a huge drive for a change.  It doesn't have to be PT, that is just one that seems like it checks all the right boxes.  You make a good point.  I haven't really tried to market myself outside my company since my big debacle of a job search during the recession.

BicycleB

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Re: Seeking career change advice
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2019, 12:32:27 PM »
Everybody had trouble finding jobs after the recession.

We're in the opposite phase now - lots of hiring, relatively easy to get in. If you're "on the bubble" of being a maybe candidate now that you have some experience, this is your chance to get the path you want in a few months of job searching instead of a few years of retraining. APPLY!!!

:)

Good luck whichever path you choose.

JoshuaSpodek

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Re: Seeking career change advice
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2019, 06:39:53 AM »
If you're thinking of taking initiative, my just-released book, Initiative, is on just that.

A few MMM community members have read it and posted in this thread. You could probably PM them or post in that thread for an MMM community assessment if it would help you.

The book page has videos of people who did the book's exercises and blurbs.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Seeking career change advice
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2019, 06:57:53 AM »
I worked in food research and development and it was really interesting and the job was always changing depending what new projects we were working on. This could fit into your nutrition angle. Food research has lots of nutritional aspects connected to it. As you know, when you purchase most foods, there is a nutritional label on it stating exactly what is in the package. There are lots of jobs in food research where storage studies on the product is done over a period of time in different temperature chambers. Samples of the products are taken for chemical analysis during the storage study at certain intervals. The Technologists do the analysis and report the results. Microbiology testing is done too. There is a lot of research on baby formula's, diet products. nutritional drinks. Of course, they are always trying to cheapen a product to make more money for the company. Engineering in that environment is pretty exciting too. Food failures and food discoveries are made in the Pilot Plant. Where I worked there was a good team environment and the pay and benefits were outstanding. Research and Development in most any company is pretty awesome as long as it is a well known company. Pharmaceutical companies have very deep pockets.