Have you changed careers during your working life? Chances are if you haven’t yet, you will. We’re not talking changing jobs or getting new contracts doing the same thing. Actually moving from one general career area to another. I continue to be surprised by the number of people who say they “fell into technical writing by accident,” and it’s the reason why we’ve posted the new TechWhirl poll question, about the factors that enter into the decision to move from one field to another.
Career changing, versus job changing generates a lot of noise, with a commonly cited statistics ranging from three to seven career changes throughout an averaging work lifespan. But as a Wall Street Journal column points out, the actual number depends on how you define career change. So for purposes of this admittedly unscientific poll, we’ll loosely define a career change as moving from one area of a general discipline, such as communications, to another, or from one field to a completely unrelated field. Under this definition, I’ve changed careers four times: from marketing communications, to retail sales, to technical communications, to trade journalism (or content management, depending on how you view what we do here at TechWhirl). I’ve mostly stayed in the same general discipline of communications (but there are times when I dream of becoming a film historian or a professional baker).
And that leads to the why (of course) of career changing. The ability to make a decent living is usually a factor, but it’s rarely the only factor. When I ask other career changers about their reasons, the answers can vary a lot. Some felt like they weren’t developing a talent they really wanted to explore. Others wanted to get out of the organizational climate that tends to permeate some fields. And still others simply got bored.
So what about you? Did you enter or leave tech comm from a completely unrelated field like law, or medicine, or politics, or theoretical physics? Are you thinking about moving over to marketing, or field support, or employee communications? What makes the change appealing? Vote in the poll, and drop us a note to tell us what career changes you’ve made and why.