Why You Shouldn’t Give Up On Education After A Career Break
People take a career break for so many reasons. Illness, family obligations, a new child, the list goes on. But just because you’ve taken a career break doesn’t mean you should give up on education.
Higher education can be your pathway back into the workforce after some time off and the stats tell us that women are disproportionately taking up study ahead of men. But one of the biggest challenges they face is keeping their educational qualifications up to date later in life.
For many women, time pressures, career breaks to raise their family and the costs associated with postgraduate study hold them back from pursuing further education later in life.
But continuing with higher education doesn’t necessarily mean studying on campus for another degree. It simply means finding a program that suits your lifestyle and more importantly will advance your career.
Pursuing higher education does pay off.
According to The Good Universities Guide, the average salary jumps about 50% upwards when you go from an undergraduate bachelor degree to a postgraduate degree. Your ability to find a full-time job also improves dramatically.
The globalisation of the economy has opened up opportunities that were once unavailable within and outside of Australia. On the flip side, however, it also has given employers access to a wider pool of candidates, making the workforce market more competitive. So, the more specialised and knowledgeable you can be, the better you can stand out.
Here is how you can choose the best path forward in the new age of higher education.
Staying in your field or changing careers?
First, you’ll need to establish if you want to stay within your field or change career paths. Whatever you were doing before your career break, doesn’t have to be what you return to. There are always going to be transferable skills that you can take to a new career if you’re wanting a change.
Think about what you want from your return to work, are you looking for flexibility, a new challenge, more money or a chance to pursue your passions?
Then identify which direction you want to move into. Do you want to get back into your field, perhaps specialise and rise up the corporate ladder? Or do you want to find something adjacent but different? And if you do, what skill gaps will you need to address to break into your new field?
Once you’ve figured out where you want to go in your career, you can start to consider your studying options.
People have the misconception that if they studied in one particular field then they must complete postgraduate study in that field. But this is simply not the case. An MBA or master of Business Administration can be a fantastic way to reset your career.
Regardless of what industry you were in or field you come from, you can use it as an opportunity to redirect your career. And an MBA is no longer the only choice for postgraduate study. You can do a masters in engineering, law or even project management.
Whatever you studied in your undergraduate program, you can use a postgraduate program to redirect your career. Even if you don’t have any experience in this new field doesn’t mean you can’t find employment in your new industry.
Employers care about the fact that you have obtained a new skill and have continuously pursued professional development throughout your life.
Degree or certificate
A masters isn’t your only option for higher education. There are graduate certificates and diplomas that might make more sense for your career goals.
If you want to enter a new field but your previous background is not very relevant to the new direction, you may want to go for the more in-depth master’s degree. This will provide you with more context and a more solid grounding to make your career change.
If you already are on the career path of your choice but want to further improve your knowledge to become more effective, then a certificate program might do. Taking up a graduate diploma or certificate program in your current field will give you the chance to specialise your knowledge and find a niche. It can also be your ticket to a higher salary range when you re-enter the workforce.
If you’re wanting to stay within your current field but you’ve gained experience beyond your qualification level, you can look into Recognised Prior Learning.
Recognised Prior Learning or RPL is a pathway to your qualification that takes into account your vast work experience. With RPL you can gain a qualification without studying.
The process for RPL involves completing a free skills assessment. This short online form, just involves answering a few questions and providing your resume. Once this is done, the RPL assessor will tell you if you are a good candidate for RPL. If you enrol through RPL, your RPL assessor will then create a mapping document where you can provide evidence against each of the competencies for the qualification.
The type of evidence you might need to provide varies greatly depending on the experience you have had and the nature of the qualification. But this evidence could be emails, reports or presentations for example.
RPL is a great way to level up your career. Especially if you’re planning to return to your previous career and you’re looking to reach a higher position. You can learn more about RPL here.
The globalisation of our society has changed the way we do everything from shopping to study. In a world where we can work from home, order anything and have it delivered, you can easily find a postgraduate program that can accommodate your career goals, your schedule and your budget.
There is a plethora of online postgraduate programs that are affordable and flexible. You can often study online rather than in-person and on campus. And there are many payment plans, government assistance programs and scholarships you can explore.
In addition, if you want to pursue a master’s degree but lack qualifying credits, these programs will help you design a learning pathway to get you there, giving you many more higher education options to explore.
Asset College partners with higher education providers to offer pathways to higher qualifications with scholarships or credit from vocational study.
If you’re looking to return to work after a career break, higher education can be a great pathway back to the office. You could look into postgraduate programs such as certificates or diplomas or you could enter an entirely new field with a master’s program.
If you’re looking to stay within your current field and gain recognition for your work experience and skill, consider completing your qualification through RPL.