Changing Careers: Getting into the Care Sector


People are getting older and working later in life than ever before. That shift has led to two undeniable facts. The first is that more people are choosing a second career later in life, and the second is that there is a growing demand for care workers. Changing careers can be a very daunting idea, but with millions of people doing it every year, it might be a little more achievable than you think. The care sector is proving an attractive career choice for many, partly because of that sense of making a difference. It's also a career option with a wide variety of positive benefits. If you're looking for something more fulfilling than your current occupation, here's how to make the shift into the care sector.

What is the care sector?

The health and social care industry is, at its core, about improving the quality of life for some of society's most vulnerable people. It's about helping people, whether they are having problems with physical health or mental problems. Many of those patients will need either partial or 24/7 care, and it can sometimes be a physically demanding role, although not always. After all, not every occupation within the car sector is the same! One of the first things that you need to know is that a role in care can mean working with people of all ages and abilities. The area that you end up in will depend largely on your ambitions and attributes, and it can often be an occupation that requires a certain level of mental toughness.

Is it too late to change your career?

One of the first barriers you're going to face is people telling you (or even telling yourself) that it's too late in life to change your working environment. That's never the case. People are changing careers in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and even their 60s, especially now that fit and healthy elderly workers are continuing to work well into their seventies. There are lots of reasons why you might be thinking of changing your career. The top five reasons for changing career include:

     Looking for a better salary

     Wanting to reduce stress levels

     Hoping for an improved work/life balance

     A need to face new challenges

     Loss of interest in a current occupation

Research studies have confirmed that people can be as much as 77% happier after changing careers, as well as being more satisfied, less stressed, and more fulfilled. The challenge is knowing just how to change careers, even later in life.

How to change careers

The best way to approach a change in careers is to break down the steps. For those planning to get into the care sector, some clearly definable steps will help make the transition go a lot more smoothly.

Step one: Consider your current role

Think very carefully about which parts of your current occupation are making you happy and which aren't. At some point, you're going to need to narrow down the kind of role you'd like in the care sector, so having more of an idea at this stage about what you're looking for and what you want to avoid can help lay the groundwork for later steps.

Step two: Assess yourself

All jobs are different, but whatever you're doing for work right now, there will be ways to find a position that matches your personal attributes. Consider your values, skills, and interests. Think about those times when you were the happiest at work and when you were most successful. There are a variety of online resources available that can help you break down your values, interest, and skills. These can help you identify potential career options and alternatives.

Step three: Consider your role in care

This step is going to require research. Find out as much as you possibly can about the care sector, and look in-depth at the sheer variety of roles available. The care sector is huge, and that means not everyone is doing the same job. Once you have more of an idea about what kind of occupation you want to be engaged in within the care industry, you will have a more defined pathway to your next steps. For example, if you've loved the admin side of your current career, there are clear steps that you'll need to take to get your RCFE administrator certification. The more you research the kind of role you want, the easier it will be to find out the necessary requirements.

Step four: Looking for jobs

You know what kind of job sounds appealing, but are there any of those jobs available? Head to search engines and job sites, type in the career that you're looking for, and see what demand is like. It might be that there are plenty of positions available in the state of your choice, or you might find that those vacancies you're dreaming of are few and far between. In either case, you'll be able to see a little more about the requirements you'll need to have if you want to stand out from the crowd.

Step five: Connect

You've picked your role within the care sector, you're all signed up for the courses and certificates you might need, and you've got an idea of the available positions that are out there. Your next step is to reach out to people already working in care. This could be people you know already working in the industry, or you could reach out with emails or social media messages. Make those connections, and see if you can set up some kind of work experience or job shadowing. There are lots of benefits to work experience and volunteering, not least of which is that it can help you determine if care is for you.

Once these steps have been taken, you will be in a much better position in terms of knowing what you're doing and whether or not you're making the right career decision.

Are you suited to a career in care?

Moving into the care sector means opening up a huge number of job opportunities. There are so many varied roles within the sector that you could be doing anything from focusing on physical assistance in a residential home to managing the paperwork of those that are being cared for at home. Business managers, receptionists, nutritionists, activities organizers, technicians, there's no end to the many different skills required for the care industry. If you have identified the occupation that you feel will give you the most satisfaction and the salary that you're interested in, then you need to think about whether you're suited to that position.

Training and qualifications

This will depend on the kind of role that you're targeting. In some cases, you will find that you will need to take a short course with a test, while others may be able to start a new position and gain their qualifications as they learn. Many of the roles available in the care sector do not require any kind of formal qualification at the outset, although you may be expected to do any necessary training as you advance and gain more experience and more duties. You will often find that in cases where formal qualifications are required, but you don't have those qualifications, that experience can matter just as much. If you've spent a good chunk of your career managing a business, the transition to deputy-managing a care facility might not be the challenge it would be for recent graduates of a business management school. You might bring a lot more to the industry than you think.

Doing your research

Anybody planning to change careers needs to do their research, whether they're planning on going into the care sector or not. You need to find out as much about the industry as you possibly can. Look at current trends and future predictions about the industry so that you know what to expect in the next ten or twenty years. That research will make it much easier to market yourself to potential employers, especially if you have the transferable skills that you've picked up in your current career. Due to the huge number of possible occupations in care, your high levels of experience with project management, customer services, budgeting, or even just listening could be the reasons that you stand out against other, usually younger, applicants.

The most important things to remember about a career in the care industry

From the high-level jobs that will require formal qualifications to those roles that are more about soft skills such as good communication, identifying the role that best suits you is critical. Changing careers at any time can be very stressful, but it's often the fastest way to dramatically improve your life. The care sector is a particularly challenging but rewarding one. Here are some of the aspects of a career in care that you may not have considered.

Strong communication is essential

There may be roles of all types in care, but the vast majority will involve working with other people. Many of those people will be some of the most vulnerable in society, and that means you're going to need to be a good communicator. Even if you're working on the business or admin side, you're still going to need to communicate with those that are more on the frontlines and understand the challenges that they face. There will always be a demand for different types of personality in similar industries, but positive communication is of vital importance in the care sector.

It can be unpredictable

They say that if you work in care you will learn something new every day. That's because it's very rare that two days are the same, whether you're helping plan a weekly diet plan, scheduling IT tasks, or managing a care facility. It can be unpredictable, and there will often be unexpected challenges that push you to your limits. You will never stop learning, and you will be helping the people that need it most, but you will need to be ready to be surprised and challenged regularly. It's that unpredictability that makes it such a perfect industry for older career changers and those fresh out of education. Due to the variety of roles, many care industry occupations require very little in the way of formal qualifications from the outset. Instead, they will focus on skill development once you are in the role. There will be set learning pathways that will walk you through your career progression. Your commitment to the position and your temperament will be just as, if not more, important than your school grades.

The future of the care industry

The population of the US is getting older. Combine that aging population with the developments in medicine and technology, and it's very clear that care work is only going to become bigger and more essential every year. Healthcare has now surpassed both manufacturing and retail as the biggest employment sector in the US, making it a vital industry for the economy. Keeping one eye on the future of care in the country can be very useful in identifying the long-term viability of your new career. By keeping up to date on the technologies and trends that are driving the sector forward can also help you to identify potential new career or training options that your employer will be more than pleased to help guide you into. After all, with such a focus on learning, the more that you can develop your skills in your new career, the more valuable you are as a member of the team.

More people than ever are taking a look at their careers and feeling like something is missing. Dissatisfaction with a workplace or an industry can start to affect every area of your life and can have a very negative effect on your mental health and positivity. With so many people making a career change later in life, nothing is stopping you from finding out more about your potential career options and taking a closer look at the care industry.