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Want to Change Careers? You’re Not Alone

Carrie Steckl earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a Minor in Gerontology from Indiana University – Bloomington in 2001. She has spent over ...Read More

As you hop onto the freeway for your morning commute as your coffee teeters in its cup holder, do you wish that you could veer onto another career path as easily as you could turn onto an onramp?

If so, you’re not alone. I just read about an interesting Harris survey conducted for the University of Phoenix about U.S. workers’ views of their current jobs. Did you know that only 14% of current workers feel that they are employed in their “dream job”? That’s not a very big piece of the employee pie. I guess it wasn’t surprising, then, to read that over half of U.S. workers want to change careers.

Age was a factor in the results. A whopping 80% of those in their 20s wanted to change careers, while 64% of those in their 30s and 54% of those in their 40s wanted to shift course. I couldn’t help but wonder whether this percentage decreased with age simply because as we get older, we don’t think it’s as realistic or feasible to change careers, even though we might really want to change direction just as much as 20-somethings.

You might be tempted to think that most of these folks dream of being artists, novelists, musicians, or professional athletes. However, most survey respondents listed more realistic “perfect jobs.” The most desirable fields were in business management, technology, and health care in addition to the arts and sciences. Indeed, among those who did say they were in their dream jobs, one out of five worked in business management, while slightly fewer worked in health care.

You might also be tempted to think that many people want to run their own businesses. This may be true, but they may want to talk to those who are already entrepreneurs before making the leap. Only 20% of those running their own businesses reported that they were, in fact, working in their desired careers.

The other factor that seemed to impact current job satisfaction was location. Is it that shocking that 60% of those living and working in San Francisco did not want to change careers, but 62% of those living and working in New York City very much did?

This survey revealed a sweeping desire for change, but did not tap into the reasons why. Do you want to change careers? If so, is it because you seek better opportunities for advancement, higher compensation potential, better working conditions and benefits, or something else? For many of us, I think it’s that “something else” – whether it’s a desire to truly make a difference in the world or that nagging feeling that we are not spending the bulk of our lives in our true calling. Whatever reason may be holding you back, perhaps it’s time to take another look at that dream and seriously explore steps you can take to make it a reality.


Reuters. (July 8, 2013). Poll: Most workers want career change. Chicago Tribune (Kindle version).

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