How to Decide If It’s Time for a Career Change

The pandemic has prompted many workers to consider more fulfilling jobs. These people made it work.

Ponce Garner
Ponce Garner is chasing his dream of being a police officer.
(Image credit: Photograph by Tracy Grosshans)

COVID-19 upended the job market in multiple ways. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, saw their salaries reduced or were sent out of the office to work from home. But as uncertainty surrounding the pandemic continues, many workers have decided it’s time for a change. In a January survey of unemployed Americans, Pew Research Center found that 66% have seriously considered pursuing a different career because of the pandemic. One-third said they had enrolled in training programs or other educational endeavors to sharpen their skills.

The internet is filled with tales of restaurant workers, hairstylists and corporate employees who have jumped ship in hopes of finding more meaningful employment. But switching careers isn’t easy, and figuring out what your new gig will be is a job all by itself. In addition to retraining, you may need to rebuild your network—which may take more time than usual because the pandemic has limited the ability to meet people in person.

Career changers must also adapt to the permanent changes the pandemic brought to office culture. Flexible schedules, remote work and virtual hiring are here to stay. And if you’re an older worker interested in switching careers, you should get comfortable with the possibility that you’ll report to a younger supervisor.

We’ve profiled four people who have made a career switch, including two who say the pandemic, along with recent social upheaval, gave them the courage to take the leap.

Michael Korsh
Intern, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Korsh is a recent graduate and incoming graduate student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He majored in journalism with a minor in psychology, and his graduate degree will be in the Medill Investigative Lab specialization of the MS in journalism program. He has previously interned for Injustice Watch, the Medill Investigative Lab and Moment Magazine, and he served as the print managing editor of North by Northwestern student newsmagazine. Korsh became a Kiplinger intern through the American Society of Magazine Editors Internship Program.