11 Good Reasons To Go Back To School For A Career Change

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POST WRITTEN BY Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council

Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.

Today, many skills can be learned through experience at a job, in an internship or even through online research and tutorials. However, there are some lessons you can only learn through formal education.

Going back to school, even if it’s through an online degree program, might seem like a financial burden or an overly time-consuming process. However, if you want to gain the foundational knowledge you’ll need to change careers, it might be a necessary course of action. Below, 11 Forbes Coaches Council members share situations in which a potential career-changer should consider returning to the classroom.

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Members of Forbes Coaches Council detail situations in which a professional seeking to change careers should head back to school. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.

1. You Need A Technical Certification

Certifications are a sure way to gain needed experience in any industry. Certain groups and organizations have to follow strict state or federal guidelines and show that they are following the stated guidelines. Studying for a specialty subject will allow you to know the history and the present procedures in that industry and bring you up-to-date for the next steps of your career. – Michelle WeathersbyLENS Consulting Firm

2. Your Current Skills Don’t Transfer To Your Desired Career Path

When you make a radical career change where your transferable skills and knowledge don’t meet the core requirements of the new job—such as marketing to legal or teaching to pediatric care—getting a new degree is necessary. Even at a smaller scale, such as sales to marketing, having certification and training in the specialty area will always give you a boost. – Amy NguyenHappiness Infinity LLC

3. You Want Greater Depth And Breadth Of Knowledge On A Subject

In my experience, the one factor that should generally be academic in nature is the depth and breadth of a given topic. Though most skills and information are widely available online, when it comes to deep dives to learn facts, digest and discuss and to being exposed to alternative thought processes both in theory and practice, an academic setting has proven itself to be more intense and beneficial. – Kamyar ShahWorld Consulting Group

4. You Need To Bridge Your Knowledge Gap

What is the gap from where you are today and where you want to be? Some professions require formal education (doctors, lawyers, etc.); but not all. If the knowledge gap is too great and you have no relevant experience, investing in further education will help you bridge the gap. In some cases, a few classes or a certification course is enough. Know the industry requirements before you invest. – Erin UrbanUPPSolutions, LLC

5. You Want To Grow Your Professional Network

I mentor at the University of California, Irvine, and recently came across a student who said, “I don’t pay $30,000 a year to sit in a classroom and listen to a professor tell me things I can Google. I’m here to meet every person I can.” He has a list of 60 CEOs he wants to chat with, and he is well on his way. He networks with speakers, presenters and professors. His career change is in the bag! – Kimberly RoushAll-Star Executive Coaching

6. You Want To Surround Yourself With Others Who Share Your Passion

If you just need to enhance your skill set to get a new job, then an online solution may suffice. However, if you are really passionate about starting a new career, then I would consider going back to school so that you can get a greater depth of knowledge and can surround yourself with others with the same passion. – Donald HatterDonald Hatter Inc.

7. You Keep Seeing The Same Job Requirement (And You Don’t Have It)

When there is a degree or technical requirement for a job or role that you really want and you continue to run up against the same requirement for the same type of jobs, it is time to consider getting the necessary qualifications. Additionally, there are some occupations that require special licensing to work in those spaces, such as law, social work and medicine. – India Gary-MartinLeadership For Life

8. You’re Looking For A Varied Method

During my time as a military instructor, we focused on including various teaching methods to effectively educate students. If you need to quickly learn skills for a new job, find a course that offers various methods to reinforce the subject. For example, Rosetta Stone includes methods to read, speak and listen. Some of the most effective courses use various methods to reinforce the subject. – Mika HunterFemale Defender

9. An Education Is Your ‘Barrier To Change’

Whether it be a degree, a certification or even the intellectual makeup you need as a new associate, bachelor’s or graduate degree holder, know what it is that will create the change you must have in your career. You may need the time, space and association of education, not just the degree or “piece of paper.” It can be that valuable. Know your barrier to change. Embrace what it takes to overcome. – John M. O’ConnorCareer Pro Inc.

10. Alumni From Your Chosen Program Say It’s Worth It

There is a myriad of situations where you might have to go back to school. However, whatever program is being considered, I suggest you call up to eight program alumni. Ask them if the certificate/degree/program was everything they hoped for and worth the investment. Ask them what they wish someone had told them before they enrolled. Then decide. – Lisa RangelChameleon Resumes LLC

11. An Education Will Help You Become Who You Want To Be

Learning is part of a growth mindset. If you are thinking about going back to school, focus on a path that is going to enhance the person you want to become. As you develop your vision, ask, “What are the needed skill sets for me to become a master in the field?” It is always great to learn, but make sure you are learning in a way that will allow you to become the person you want to become. – Clara CapanoCapano Consulting

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Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only, fee-based organization comprised of leading business coaches and career coaches. Find out if you qualify at forbescoaches.com