10 Biggest Myths About Changing Careers That Are Keeping You Stuck

These limiting beliefs may be keeping you stuck in a bad job.
Updated Dec. 19, 2023
Fact checked
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If you're thinking of changing careers, there is a good chance you worry about the unknowns: Will you make enough money? Won’t you be starting over? What if you fail?

Such fears keep many people locked into their current, less-than-stellar job. Fortunately, dispelling some misconceptions can make you feel more confident about taking a chance.

If you’ve been pondering a career change, make sure these myths aren’t keeping you from finding a more fulfilling career that helps you get ahead financially.

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You’re too old

Prostock-studio/Adobe woman checking her face in mirror

While it might feel like everyone else has figured out what they want to be when they “grow up,” it’s not uncommon for people to change jobs later in life.

Employees age 35 to 44 change occupations an average of 2.9 times, and those ages 45 to 52 change 1.9 times, according to the online job platform Zippia.

Some wildly successful people — including Vera Wang, Henry Ford, and Toni Morrison — didn’t hit their stride until their 40s, and it’s not too late for you.

You need more education

Miljan Živković/Adobe woman studies in front of the laptop

Most job titles don’t have hard-and-fast educational requirements, and many employers will substitute years of professional experience for another degree.

If you’re lacking a certain skill or you need more up-to-date knowledge in a particular area, consider looking for a position that offers on-the-job training. Or, enroll in a certificate program.

You need tons of money

Mix and Match Studio/Adobe barista with laptop

With careful planning, a career transition doesn't need to be expensive or financially taxing.

The best time to look for a new job is when you already have one, so don’t leave your current position until you have a new one secured.

It’s also a good idea to bulk up an emergency fund that can help see you through any troubles as you transition to a new career.

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You have to start at the bottom

rh2010/Adobe woman holding resume document indoors

Take a good look at your resume: Chances are good that you have many skills that can be easily transferred to several different types of jobs.

In your cover letter and interviews, focus on the value and experience you could bring to a future employer. Make it clear that your track record can translate to success in your new position.

No one else is doing this

Mediteraneo/Adobe candidates waiting for a job interview

You're not the first person to switch careers, nor will you be the last. While you might feel alone walking on an unfamiliar career path, this road is well-traveled. 

Of the Americans who quit their jobs in 2021, 53% changed their occupation or field of work, according to Pew Research.

You’ll have to take a salary cut

insta_photos/Adobe mid age CEO looking away

It might be the case that you’ll take a pay cut upon switching careers but don’t assume that reduced pay is a sure thing.

Even if you take a little less pay to start your new profession, it might offer more long-term upward potential. Also, remember that a job is about more than just a paycheck.

It's too risky

Quality Stock Arts/Adobe engineer male using VR virtual reality

The truth is that there is always risk, no matter what job you do. Many jobs today are threatened by everything from sudden layoffs to the emergence of artificial intelligence.

Depending on what field you’re in and which one you want to switch to, there could be a greater risk in staying with your current job than in making a change.

You’ll probably fail

nuttawutnuy/Adobe engineering team working in robotic technology

Career changes can be challenging, but don’t let fear of failure overwhelm you. By researching the daily tasks of your future job and finding mentors in your new field, you’ll increase your chances of tapping into the resources you need to succeed.

You need a master plan

Kaspars Grinvalds/Adobe woman writing her travel blog

Can you name a single person whose career went exactly as they planned it? Probably not.

While you should consider where your career will take you years down the road, it’s unnecessary to have each step planned out. Focus on building skills, relationships, and a reputation in a new field you enjoy.

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It’s not the right time

BullRun/Adobe artist drawing sketches of new clothes

If you’re holding out for the perfect time to switch careers, you’ll be waiting forever. There will always be stressors in your life — financial obligations, children, and other commitments.

Instead of getting stuck in analysis paralysis, set up a timeline for your career-change goals, then take small steps toward those goals each day.

Bottom line

AS Photo Family/Adobe man motivational speaker on stage

You shouldn’t take the decision to change careers lightly. It requires careful self-reflection and a thorough investigation of the field you want to switch to.

You want to understand what you're getting into so you don’t move out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Many people make successful pivots to new professions. They find joy and might even stop living paycheck to paycheck. There's no reason you can’t be one of them.

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Author Details

Jenni Sisson Jenni Sisson is a freelance writer and editor who focuses on personal finance, real estate, and entrepreneurship. She has been published in Business Insider and The Ways to Wealth. In addition to writing, Jenni hosts the Mama's Money Map podcast to help fellow stay-at-home moms on their journey to financial freedom.

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