How might your career change over your lifetime?

American workers probably will change jobs five to seven times during their lifetimes. Understanding and expecting career changes can help American workers to prepare emotionally and financially and to make better adjustments to such changes.

One type of voluntary career change comes about because a worker is not happy with her career. If she chose the wrong career, for example, she then should make special efforts to choose the right career, because career change becomes more difficult as she grows older.

Workers might be happy with their careers, but economic reasons might require them to change to higher paying careers. High inflation, for example might make their current salaries insufficient. As another example, when couples divorce, their living standards usually fall, and this might require transitions to better paying jobs.

Another reason that a worker might not be happy with his job is because there seems to be very limited opportunities for promotion with his current employer. This is especially true with employers whose promotions are heavily influenced by nepotism. Before changing employers, however, the unhappy worker should research potential employers well to make sure that promotions are more likely to occur with the new employer.

Still, based on the statistics assignment, another reason for dissatisfaction with a career might be the desire for a career that has more personal meaning or social impact. After decades in his current career field, a worker nearing retirement might want to undertake an encore career, even if the pay and fringe benefits are not as attractive as those in his current career.

Another type of change is involuntary career change. Such change can occur, for example, because some spouses, who accompany their military spouses during frequent geographic moves, might not find their chosen careers at new military posts.

Another type of involuntary career change occurs when a serious injury or illness requires a worker to go through vocational rehabilitation and to transition to a different career. A worker who undergoes such a transition might or might not like the new job as much as the old job.

Perhaps the most common involuntary career changes are those due to downsizing, outsourcing, or automation. Those who have lost jobs for these reasons might not be able to resume the careers that they enjoyed before the layoffs.

Those who are going through career change would do well to consider what Arnold Bennett said. He said, “Any change, even change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.”

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