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When does it pay to go back to school?

Posted by Joan Cirillo  February 25, 2009 02:15 PM

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Q. My firm has been having layoffs, and if I do get laid off, the chances of me finding another job in my field are slim. I am fifty years old and while the thought of going back to school for some new career doesn't bother me, I wonder if it would be worth it.

A. I wish you had mentioned what career you were thinking about getting retrained in because that is the key. There are some industries/occupations that are almost recession-proof and if you were going to work another 20 years, it might be well worth your going back to school. For example, I am thinking of many positions in healthcare such as nurse, certified nursing assistant, home health aide, radiology technician, and others that are only going to grow as baby boomers begin to age and need more healthcare services.

You also may be able to take many of your current skills and with some short-term retraining, may be able to find work in another field. For example, you may have good office support skills but worked on proprietary software for years. You need a Microsoft software refresher so that you can be more competitive in today’s business environment. This would be a short time commitment for a potentially big pay off.

Do your homework. Research industries and jobs in your community at and look under labor market information. This will give you a very good indication of what industries and jobs will be hot in the future. Good luck!

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