Considering a career change is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, the average person will change careers 5-7 times in their lifetime. This type of life change can be scary. You’re most likely leaving an industry and company that you know very well to venture into unexplored waters. So, what is the best way to approach a career change? How do you know it’s time? And, most importantly, how do you choose your new career?
What constitutes a career change?
There is some dispute between what actually constitutes a career change. Does it refer to when someone moves from one company to another? How about when someone moves into a higher position within their same industry? Or does it only apply to those who are changing industries entirely?
When we refer to a “career change,” we’re not just talking about people moving from one company to another or one job title to another. We’re talking about really making a significant career change; changing entirely the type of work you do in your career. For most people, this means that they are moving from one industry to an entirely different industry. The phrase “career change” refers to a bigger shift than merely a job change. Oftentimes, a career change means that you need to learn new skills and abilities. Sometimes it means you have to go back to school, but that is not always the case.
For many people a career change, while scary, is also an exciting time where they have the opportunity to forge a new path, make new decisions, and pursue something they’re really passionate about.
How do you know you need a career change?
No matter what line of work you’re in, you will likely experience some form of discontent and questioning in your job. But how do you know whether it’s normal frustration with your job vs. something that requires you take a whole new direction in your career? There are many different ways to recognize that you might need a change and each person will have a different experience when realizing that they’re unhappy in their current career. However, there are a few things we notice over and over that often indicate a person is ready for a career change:
- Feeling exhausted
Most americans spend more waking hours working than doing anything else. It’s no surprise, then, that an unsatisfying work environment can negatively impact your health and even lead to illness and exhaustion. Feeling this way doesn’t always mean you need a career change, sometimes it just means that you’re working in a toxic office or are unhappy in another way.
- You’re unhappy with your skills, responsibilities, and tasks
So many people are good at work that they hate. Being good at pulling data and evaluating statistics doesn’t mean that those tasks make you happy. If you’ve gotten bored with your daily routine or work, it may be time to search for something that sparks your excitement.
- The money doesn’t feel worth it
Even if you’re taking home six figures per year, that doesn’t mean it’s worth your unhappiness. Many people find themselves thinking something like, “this salary is great, but it doesn’t make up for the boredom I feel at the office everyday.” Now we’re not suggesting throwing away all idea of a decent salary to start your own balloon animal factory (unless that’s a dream of yours, of course), but you shouldn’t stay in a job you hate just because it’s a decent paycheck.
- You feel like you made the wrong choice
Sometimes it’s as simple as a gut reaction telling you you’re in the wrong line of work. No matter how many other people tell you you made the “right” choice, it doesn’t mean anything unless you believe you’ve made the right decision. We’re strong proponents of trusting our gut. And sometimes our gut is the one that tells us something isn’t quite right.
- Feeling like you want to do more or be better
We can’t tell you how many people go to a corporate job in a big office everyday feeling like they’re “made for something better” than their data-entry job. If you’re regularly thinking “there has to be more to life” or wondering whether you could be making a bigger difference in the world, you’re probably right - and you probably can.
Why choose a career in criminal justice?
Ok, you’ve checked all the boxes (or even just a few of them). You know that you’d want to be doing something different with your life. Maybe you’ve thought to yourself that public service is a direction you’d like to explore. But why criminal justice?
Criminal justice is a field rife with exciting and fulfilling opportunities. Whether you’re interested in pursuing a career as a detective in your local law enforcement or working as a paralegal in a law firm, the criminal justice industry offers a variety of opportunities. Here are some of the reasons pursuing a career change to criminal justice might be a good fit for you:
- A chance to give back
The number one reason people enter law enforcement and criminal justice careers is because they want to help others. Criminal justice offers you the ability to use your skills, strengths and passion to be a force for good. Whether you’re aiding victims of crime, helping enforce justice on those who’ve committed crimes, or fighting for fair policies, you’ll always know that your work is contributing to overall justice.
- A variety of opportunities
Now more than ever, communities are recognizing the need for well-trained law enforcement and criminal justice professionals. Whether you’re interested in working for a police department or would rather spend your days in court, a job in criminal justice will have something that appeals to you.
- A chance to constantly learn and evolve
Criminal justice professionals by nature must be quick on their feet, willing to meet a variety of challenges, and open to always learning. This industry is considered more mentally demanding with higher stakes and expectations than others. These are just a few of the reasons that a job in criminal justice will always stay interesting. On a daily basis, you will be expected to put your problem solving skills to the test to dig deeper into a story. Additionally, with the constant evolution of our criminal justice system, you will never stop learning and will be hard pressed to get bored in this career path.
- A chance to be a team-player
This point goes hand-in-hand with point #1. Many criminal justice careers require that you’re working with the public on a daily basis. But even if you aren’t dealing directly with the public, you might be dealing with criminals or even just other criminal justice professionals to help ensure that justice is seen.
So, is a career in criminology right for you? Maybe it’s time for a career change!