How do I prepare for a second career now, before I want one?
March 22, 2010 3:36 PM   Subscribe

How do I prepare for a second career now, before I want one?

I am currently a librarian in a public library, and I am (mostly) really happy with it as a career.
However, I am only 34, and I can't see doing the same thing for another 30+ years. Even if I move up in the organization, I think I will still get bored after a while.

If I wanted to have a completely different job in say, 10 years,
what should I do now, so that later I can transition into something else with a minimum of difficulty?

I guess I am asking this in general, although it might be hard to answer without a specific career in mind.

So any suggestions of second careers that might take some time to get going, but would provide flexible and interesting work in the future, would also be appreciated.

Anticipating possible questions:
--I am pretty financially solvent, but do not have a lot of extra money to invest.
--I would prefer to stay in California.
posted by exceptinsects to Work & Money (4 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Reverse engineering my own radical career shift (in my mid thirties):

-volunteer your time doing anything that remotely interests you. My change evolved out of volunteer work, and the experience I gained opened doors for me as I transitioned.
-take building a savings seriously. You may need money to be re-educated, to take a interim no or low pay internship, or to finance time off.
-cultivate wide diversity in your friends and activites. Your new opportunty could come from anywhere and I was so surprised and pleased with where I discovered support, help, letters, etc.
-keep abreast of university program in your area. More and more universities are developing excellent graduate programs expressly for those successful in other fields who want to transition.
-work on building in, as a benefit (perhaps in exchange for other monetary or vacation benefits), extremely flexible scheduling at your current workplace. This way, you may have the time to volunteer, intern, or take classes during the transition.

The above is what made it possible for me to go from a good career in college administration to a new career in healthcare (nurse practitioner). I hadn't deliberately done these things, but my savings, volunteer work, job flexibility and seniority, and terrific circle of friends converged into a tipping point that made the hard work of a new career and education, well, work. And since you asked, do consider healthcare!
posted by rumposinc at 4:29 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you already have a general idea of what you want to get into, you could start completing any training/coursework that you think you'll need. Getting stuff like that done now could save you time when you actually make the switch.

Also, save as much money as you can.

Disclaimer: I haven't made a career change myself.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 4:31 PM on March 22, 2010

rumposinc has a lot of good advice. i'll add that you should follow up more on one of your hobbies or interests. transforming a hobby into a profession is a great way to find a second career.
posted by lester at 5:06 PM on March 22, 2010

Best answer: As someone who is right now attempting the second-career thing with an amazing lack of success, please allow my failures to be of some use:

1. Do not wait until you can't take your first career anymore, then quit in a huff, having fantasized about a second-career for years but never really having prepared for it.

2. Specifically, do not ignore the obvious need to develop some credible education, certifications, and (above all) experience in your desired second-career before making the leap.

3. Do not figure that you'll "just take a few months off" to get up to speed on your prospective new career. The realities of life will intrude, and as the money runs out, jumping back to your hated first-career will become increasingly appealing.
posted by Dimpy at 12:39 PM on March 23, 2010

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