How to pay for school when you make a career change
A bad day at work can make anyone dream about switching jobs. But if those scattered thoughts form into a plan to change careers, you might need to dust off your book bag and head back to school.
Hitting the books in your 30s, 40s or 50s requires money at an age when retirement savings and mortgage payments may be top of mind. You can get financial aid as an adult learner, but to keep your spending in check, you’ll have to think strategically.
Make sure your investment is worth it
Before you jump back into caffeine-fueled study sessions, research salary and employment trends in your chosen field — especially if you want to make more money. That’s a realistic goal: Half of adults surveyed who successfully changed careers after age 45 said their income increased, according to a 2015 American Institute for Economic Research report.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook can help you find in-demand occupations and their average earnings. Physical therapist assistants, for instance, need an associate’s degree, and demand for them is projected to grow 41% by 2024. The median pay in 2015 was $55,170.
Once you’ve settled on an occupation, consider getting your credentials through a part-time program at a community college or state university.
“If the program you’re in makes it impossible to keep your current job full time,
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