Career changer’s expectations

Q: I’m changing careers and am looking for higher income employment without having to attain tons of additional education.

A: Where do I begin? Well, let me start gently. I think you have unreasonable expectations.

Very often employers pay for relevant experience. If you change careers, you may have to re-set your compensation expectations. First, you will likely be in a new and different role. Second, your industry may have also changed. These factors may impact your compensation.

We all would like to earn more without having to “attain tons of additional education.” Education is important. A Bachelor’s degree is almost expected in most professional-level positions, especially in Massachusetts. A Master’s level degree is a plus for many industries, especially knowledge-based industries like biotech, higher education or professional services.


A recent report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce entitled Hard Times, College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal is a worthwhile read. Recent college graduates are facing a tough employment market. The unemployment rate for recent college grads is hovering just under 9%. However, for those job seekers with a high school diploma the rate is 22.9% while for high school dropouts the rate is 31.5%. To review this report, visit

A college degree is still important but this report contends that not all college degrees are equal, especially with respect to employability. As an example, graduates with an architectural degree are facing an unemployment rate of 13.9%. However, recent grads in Engineering, the Sciences, Healthcare or Education are seeing lower rates of unemployment, closer to 7.3%. Those job seekers who have earned a graduate degree fare even better, facing a much lower overall unemployment rate at 3%.

If you hold a Bachelor’s degree and are looking to switch fields, a certificate program may be a viable option. As an example, if you have an undergraduate degree in business and hope to enter the field of web design, I would suggest considering a certificate program rather than an additional degree.



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