skip to Main Content

Career Advice: Researching Your Second Career

research second career

One of the key components to identifying your second career is research. When I get to this stage with my clients, I begin to hear groans. It’s work and something each individual must complete on their own. It’s called due diligence. You should never launch into something new until you have investigated your options thoroughly. Give yourself the appropriate amount of time – sometimes 2-3 months. Rushing it, will only yield incomplete data to make a decision. You want to focus on the four “E” process: explore, experience, educate and economize a second career before you leap:

research second careerBrainstorm and ask yourself the following questions.
1. This is the time to think back to your childhood – what did you love to do?
2. Is there a passion that has been ignored?
3. What do others say you are great at?
4. What activities do you do where you lose all sense of time?
5. If you had a magic wand and money was not an issue – what would you do?
6. What non-profit pulls at your heart strings?
7. What books and movies do you love to watch?
8. What strengths do you love to use?

Once you have answered these questions, do you see a theme emerging or multiple themes? Is there a possibility of combining the themes? A recent client uncovered two themes: graphic arts and cars. He decided that his second career would be designing and building auto trade show sets. Makes sense!

Sometimes the grass looks greener on the other side. So, it is critical to do informational interviews of people in the industry/profession that you are considering going into. This would also include entrepreneurs. For example, one of my clients wanted to become a professional organizer so she talked to several and learned she could apprentice with a local owner who had too much business to handle. An informational interview is not asking for a job. Use your network to uncover people you would like to talk with and ask them to provide you with an introduction. The exception is Entrepreneurs. They love talking about their businesses – so you may not need a friend introduction. Most people will give you 20 minutes of their time if you are honest with them. Ask them about the profession in general and how they got into it, why they love it and what parts they hate, and what would it take to be successful. Also ask about education requirements and average salaries. If you learn that there are many things on their hate list that you would also hate doing, then it may be a red flag and not a good choice. But, if you find matches on the love list, then it may be worth pursuing further.

Often, going back to school to obtain a degree or certification is required. The best place to get information on a program is to schedule a meeting with the university or technical college Chairperson of the department. They are very willing to talk with you about the growth in the field and salary ranges. Please do ask the elephant in the room question: what are the chances of someone your age starting out and getting a job in this field and what is the starting salary.

Let’s be real…A new career path may mean a cut in pay. Now, that you are armed with the salary information, take a look at your budget honestly and determine how you could live on a reduced salary. It is recommended to try to live on the reduced salary for at least 6 months to see if you can do it. The flip side, you may have chosen a career that meets or beats your current salary – totally awesome!

The four “E” process of Explore, Experience, Educate and Economize, will help you determine the second career you want to pursue. Yes, it takes work – but this can be a labor of love as it is now your turn to do what you are passionate about. Go for it and enjoy the research process!

We hope this is helpful to you! Katie Weiser, Career Coach at

Schedule a free consult with today