Changing your career used to be a complicated endeavor. Not only would you be giving up a potential retirement fund end of workplace you’re intimately familiar with, but you would also be forced to jump through hoops to learn new skills and build yourself up from the ground. However, our collective ability to train online has changed that dynamic forever.
These days, career transitions are faster, easier, and more accessible. People don’t have commitments to their employers or their industries the way they used to. More importantly, we have access to nearly infinite information online.
With a combination of blogs, podcasts, videos, and online courses, almost anyone can develop a foundation for a new career in a matter of weeks or months.
But what’s the best way to approach this?
Getting a Fresh Start
First, make sure you’re changing careers for the right reasons.
Most of us have a complicated relationship with our current job. Some days, it’s perfectly tolerable or even enjoyable, while other days, it’s downright miserable.
Just because you had a bad day doesn’t mean this isn’t the job for you or that you should start investing in a total career change. Similarly, personal disputes, salary dissatisfaction, or temporary unpleasantness shouldn’t be an exclusive motivator for changing careers.
However, there are plenty of perfectly valid reasons why you would want to change careers.
For example, if you don’t like the direction your current industry is headed, you may want to get out before you face the long-term consequences. If you feel burned out or if you’ve totally lost interest in this career, you may also want to transition.
Before finalizing your decision to change careers, consider taking a vacation or a leave of absence. After taking even a few days off work, you’ll have a much more objective perspective on your current career and your feelings toward it.
Why Online Training?
Why should you choose online training over other options?
There are many inherent advantages.
- Inexpensive. Online learning resources are often affordable — and sometimes they’re free!
- Full Transparency. When working with online teachers and online educational resources, you generally have more transparency into the process.
- Flexible Hours. Since you can access online reading materials, lectures, and other content anytime you want, you can study on your own time; you don’t have to attend at specific hours or on specific days. If you’re working full-time, or if you’re a parent, this is especially important.
- Remote Learning. You can learn almost anywhere thanks to video lectures and entirely distributed educational models. You don’t need to attend a specific university — or even leave the comfort of your bedroom to do it.
- Future Options. Learning the fundamentals of a career field doesn’t lock you into place, nor does it saddle you with burdensome debt. Instead, you’ll always have the option to change your path in the future.
Choose the Right Provider
One of your most essential decisions when online training for a new career is choosing the right provider.
There’s no shortage of resources available online, but different resources offer different levels of insight in varying levels of support, usually for varying amounts of money.
Real Estate U, for example, specializes in helping people get their real estate licenses. They offer in-depth courses for real estate agents and can help you get licensed, so you can begin building your career as soon as the curriculum is complete. It costs a bit of money, but most people feel it’s more than worth the initial price.
By contrast, you could learn a great deal about real estate investing by following blogs, forums, podcasts, and other free sources of information. You’ll save money this way, but the path to licensure may be much more difficult.
There are no right or wrong answers for how you want to pursue online training.
You can use one source exclusively or rely on a mix of sources, and you can change your mind if you’re not satisfied with your current provider. However, you need to be aware that your choice of provider is significant, and it’s something you’ll need to take seriously. Make sure to evaluate your goals and choose online learning resources that align with them.
Set Long-Term Goals
Speaking of goals, before you begin your online training, consider setting some long-term goals for your career change.
How quickly do you want to begin your career in this field? Where do you see yourself after five years of working in this field? Is this something that could sustain you indefinitely, or is it merely a stepping stone on your way to something even better?
You don’t have to have firm answers to all these questions right away. Your long-term goals may change as you get new information and earn more experience. But the earlier you start thinking about your long-term future, the better.
Take Your Learning Seriously
When starting online training, make sure you take your learning seriously.
- Scheduling. Think like a project manager. During your online training, you’ll be tasked with juggling many priorities and responsibilities, such as watching lectures, reading content, in doing homework. If you want all this to fit in your schedule, you’ll need to schedule it proactively and diligently.
- Attention. If you want to get the most out of your online training, you’ll need to pay close attention. It’s not enough to have a lecture in the background while you complete another task. Instead, your attention should be undivided and totally focused.
- Homework and Assignments. Don’t neglect your assignments. Many people see homework as busy work in school — an unnecessary burden that only needs to be done because an adult told you to do it. But in an online training environment, every assignment you do will help you in some way, whether you realize it now or not.
- Deep Learning. Finally, commit to deep learning. Your goal shouldn’t be to cram all the information in your brain for just long enough to pass the exam. Instead, your goal should be to commit it to your long-term memory.
Get the Most Out of Your Teachers
Some online training resources are somewhat independent and passive. For example, you might read a book or a white paper entirely on your own, or watch an entire lecture series by yourself.
But if you have access to a teacher or a mentor in the classroom, make sure you take advantage of them. Ask lots of questions, get extra help if you need it, and consider building a relationship with your teacher. You’ll get much more out of the educational environment, and you’ll set yourself up for a better future.
While training, you’ll likely be collaborating with multiple other people, including different teachers and other students.
Take this time to actively network with those people, build your relationships, and stay in touch with them. Professional networking is valuable in almost any career field, connecting you to future employers, colleagues, and other resources.
Once the online training is over, you may be able to tap into these resources to find a job, further your education, or improve yourself in other ways.
Find a Mentor
Consider finding and working with a mentor during or after your online training.
Mentors are experienced veterans in your chosen field who are willing to share their knowledge and opinions with their inexperienced counterparts. They can provide you with advice and coaching when you need it and potentially connect you with both employment opportunities and secondary resources for your career field.
Online training is less expensive and more accessible than ever, but that doesn’t mean the path is easy. If you want to change careers, you’ll need to commit to long study sessions, hard work, and an abundance of patience as you navigate these obstacles. Still, if you’re willing to put in the work, you can open the doors to boundless possibilities.
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