Career shifting can be risky, expensive, scary, and emotionally exhausting. But at the same time, it could be absolutely worthwhile. I am beginning a new series on changing careers into Clinical Psychology. This part will cover how to decide if you should change careers.
Why Do You Want to Change Careers?
Before making any moves, you must examine your motivations for changing careers. Before doing anything drastic, try to take a vacation or some time off to think things through. You must make sure that the reason you want to change careers is not situational (ei- you hate your boss, you have long hours/etc)
Why Clinical Psychology?
When are certain that your current career is not a good fit, you can then evaluate whether Clinical Psychology will be the right fit for you. The path to a Clinical Psychology PhD is long and expensive, so you it is essential that you know that this is what you want to do. There will be many times when you will be tempted to give up, and it is important that you are very certain of your goals.
When exploring whether Clinical Psychology is for you, read this website and various others. Learn about the pros and cons of a career in Clinical Psychology. At the same time, you must talk to people. Reach out to anyone you know who is in the field of Clinical Psychology and ask them questions about their career. Seek out a volunteer position as a research assistant and a volunteer at a helpline/rape crisis center/etc to ensure that you like research and clinical work.
How do You Minimize the Risks?
The best way to minimize the risks is to make changes slowly. Do not quit your job and become a full-time research coordinator overnight. Start out by taking an introductory psychology class at a Community College and volunteering as a research coordinator/at a helpline. If you like it, you can only then consider making big changes to your life.
Know the Implications of a Career Change
As someone who has changed careers, I really wish someone told me:
- How expensive changing careers is. I essentially cut my salary by more than 2/3 when I changed careers, and this was much harder than I expected. I had to make some major changes in my lifestyle, and became a bit self-conscious about how little I was earning compared to my peers from my old job
- You will likely have to enter at a lower level. That is, if you have been in your field for a while, you have probably received some promotions / are managing people / etc. You will have to start at an entry-level research coordinator position to get into graduate school, and will be at the bottom of the totem pole in graduate school
- It will take some time before you can reap the benefits of pursuing your dream career and are doing exactly what you want to do. You have to pay your dues first. But eventually, you will (hopefully) find yourself completely immersed in what you are doing and feeling like the sacrifices were worth it
If you decide to take the leap, read part 2 to find out what you will need to do.