108: Do I Need Another Degree to Change Careers? [Podcast]

How to Avoid Bad Advice About College

Do you need another degree to start a new career? Most of the time we assume the answer is yes – of course. As a result, colleges are making a fortune from career changers. (Which is good for us!) But before you jump in and sign up for a new degree program or new training, you need to look closely to get the facts. Here, I will help you do just that!

Do I Need Another Degree to Change Careers?

Photo by Joshua Earle is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

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Do I need another degree to change careers?

Even as a university faculty, I rarely get people asking me this question. In fact, I find few people ask anything. They assume. They show up at a meeting asking all the wrong questions such as:

  • Would an MBA or Engineering Management be better to get a new job?
  • Which degree will help me get promoted?
  • What degrees are companies hiring more?
  • Should I get a masters or another undergraduate degree?
  • How do I get another degree faster?
  • Which degree is best for getting into ….?

Many variations. It is AWESOME. Think about it – when they show up at the university they already assume they need our product. It is like people showing up at a car lot knowing they want to buy a car. Now we just have to let them pick. Either way, we make money.

But, like so often, we are asking all the wrong questions and have assumed too much.

What question SHOULD you ask?

Here is the better question:

If I want to change careers, what steps do I need to take?

Stop assuming. Stop being so quick to shell out time and money on another degree, certificate, or training package before you know what you really need.

Would you take medical advice (or drugs) from a doctor that did not first diagnose the problem?

But, the truth is we get all kinds of advice from well meaning people that push us down the college path.

Common BAD advice

If you ask a university, college, or faculty if you need a degree, the answer is almost always YES. Why? That is what they do. Do they know? Not often!

YES – I JUST SAID IT.

If you ask a friend or family member, they will often suggest going back to school.

If you ask a counselor, government career help agency (they have many names) or church career ministry, the answer is almost always – get another degree.

Why are we pointed to another degree? Because colleges and universities are excellent at marketing their services.

Are you on Fire?

Remember that saying we were taught about our clothes catching fire. We are to STOP, DROP, and ROLL.

But before you get on fire to go back to school (and spend tons of money!) you need to STOP, ASK, and LEARN

Stop! Take a deep breath and stop applying to school. Just stop. We will always be glad to take your money, and we will be here tomorrow if you decide. Right now back away from the application.

Ask. Find people who are doing what you want to be doing. Find people in that career. Ask. Not one. Not two. But at least 10. YES – I said 10. Go talk to them. Find out what a day in the life is like. Find out how hard it is to break into the field.

BE SURE TO ASK THOSE DOING THE JOB. Do not ask faculty, university admissions, or anyone but the people doing the job.

Learn. Perhaps I should say LISTEN and LEARN. Be ready to challenge your own assumptions.