Resources for changing careers

March 12, 2009 5:45:31 AM PDT
There are some recession-resistant industries, areas that are still hiring, areas you might be able to go into if you're thinking about changing your job or if you just want to be ready to do something else in these uncertain times. Experts say with some investment of your time and some research, it is possible to find a new career mid-way through life.

Jeff Nelson began searching for a new career two years ago. His resume was straight forward - age 43, lifelong tradesman, a carpenter and a machinist. But he feared his manufacturing job may be in jeopardy. Economic trends were not looking in his favor.

"That was the point I was at in the trades. I was hitting the ceiling, and I wasn't feeling good about it," Nelson said.

But like a majority of people looking to switch careers, Nelson was lost as to what would best fit his skills in the new economy, something that still has growth potential? He ended up finding Career Vision in the yellow pages and career consultant Paula Kosin.

"Jeff has been in the manufacturing environment, and we all know those jobs have been going to China, Mexico for many years. So, it was an opportunity to look at how he can leverage his background to a new field that does offer more promise," Kosin said.

Turns out Career Vision has been tracking industry trends since 1989. The Glen Ellyn-based non-profit provides career consulting to students and adults. Peg Hendershot is the director. We asked her to point out some recession-resistant industries that are still hiring.

"The first one is education; you are going to see that schools are still hiring, students still need education," said Hendershot. "Typically in a down economy, military will expand. There is also a number of civil service employees retiring, so a number of openings taking place there."

And here are the rest. In addition to education and government, there's health care, security, counter cyclical industries - such as debt collectors and bankruptcy lawyers - and the newer fields of energy and environment.

"I encourage people looking for any of the new areas to do a Google search online for some of the key names. Contact some of the people in the field, find out which schools' programs a lot of these are not formalized established have to get out and be pro-active," said Hendershot.

As for Nelson, after an extensive assessment of his skills and interests, he did find a new career, something he would've never thought of on his own - orthotics and prosthetics technician, which uses some of the same skills from his old job as a machinist. After two years of part-time schooling in the new field, Nelson will be starting a full-time job in the health care industry with Bioconcepts in May.

"It has much more potential. I see many doors wide open for me, a lot of different avenues I'm able to take right now, it's been a really good thing," he said.

It's important to remember this did not happen overnight for Nelson. He started working on a career change two years ago when he realized things weren't going so well.

It takes time to get the proper education and certification. But it can happen.

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