The Unexpected Costs of a Career Change

Becoming something you’ve always wanted to be or landing your #dreamjob is a huge accomplishment for many — but if you’re stuck at a crossroads where you feel like you’re in a job or career path that just isn’t for you, it’s never too late to change. And no, this isn’t just a Millennial issue, but something many of us may face at some point in our lives.

While jumping into a new career path can be quite nerve-racking, it can be an exciting time to find a job that you can truly enjoy. However, it is important to consider the costs associated with transitioning into a new career before taking the plunge.

If you’re considering a career change, here are some unexpected costs that you might want to consider:

1. Education/licensing/certification costs

Depending on how big of a shift you want to make for your new career path, it may be a good idea to learn more about whether or not your new path may require credentials, certificates, or licenses. While there may be several transferable skills from your previous role(s) that you can apply for future jobs, talk to people in your desired industry to learn more about what educational certifications helped them excel in their careers.

If you’re not entirely sure about what role you want to dive into, you can always start with taking a few part-time or distance education courses at a community college to explore your options within your desired field, then work up to a certificate or license that is required to do the job.

(Tip: if a license or certificate isn’t required for the job, it would be a good opportunity to see if the company you are interviewing for has an education or personal development budget in their employee benefits program).

2. Networking fees + coffee chats

When scouting out for new career opportunities, talking to people within the industry or attending networking events are great ways to learn more about the role you’re hoping to transition into. However, it is easy to forget that those $10 drink tickets at networking events or $5 follow-up coffees can quickly add up.

Set aside a budget for networking, and a game plan of how many people you’d like to connect with over coffee to learn more about their industry. Better yet, find out whether there’s a free local Meetup near you where you can meet people within the industry of your interest.

3. Job hunting expenses

As you start looking for potential jobs in your desired industry, there may be a few costs to your job hunt that may quickly add up. If you land a phone interview with a potential employer that may be calling from overseas, be wary of whether there are extra costs associated with long distance calls. This is not to say you should reject a phone interview just because you don’t want to pay for the extra minutes, but it is important to be mindful of adding those LD minutes beforehand so you don’t get blind-sighted with a big phone bill at the end of the month.

Additionally, there may be costs to commuting to a job interview: transit tickets, taxi fares, gas, parking, etc. However, it is also important to be respectful of your current employer’s time (even if the job interview is during your lunch break). If your interview goes over the scheduled time, that’s an expense you must make up for either after your regular work hours or over a weekend.

4. Change in work attire

Depending on the work environment of your new career path, there may be additional costs associated with what you wear to work. If you’re coming from a workplace that allows for t-shirt and jeans to one that requires a more formal dress code, plan in advance and budget accordingly. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to dress appropriately for your new workplace, but look for investment pieces such as a tailored suit, pants, or dress that you can pair with your existing wardrobe.

5. Differences in cost of living

When you’re ready to transition into your new career path, be prepared that your current cost of living may drastically change. You may be making more or less in your new role, but it is important to live within your means and plan ahead with an emergency fund just in case. If you live with a significant other, have an open conversation about your finances with them if you anticipate that your income will drastically change with your new career path.

Change isn’t always easy — especially if you’ve built yourself up into a career that you thought was what you were “meant” to do. And if you’ve found it already, celebrate the fact that you’ve found a meaningful career that you can be proud of.

For those of you who are considering a career change, we hope this helped prepare you for this new chapter in your life — because as Milton Berle said it best, “if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”.