People Who Have Switched Careers Explain Why They Did It
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For many of our grandparents and parents, your career was something you did for the rest of your life. For some of them you did that same job at that same company pretty much until retirement.

That's not the world we live in anymore.

Not only do we rarely stay working at the same companies for that long anymore, but it's much more common for someone to just up and walk away from a career they've had for a long time and do something totally different.

This article is devoted to those brave and bold enough to pull that switch up. It takes some serious guts to do!

Reddit user TrailOfDust asked:

People who switched careers, why did you do it?

The reasons are as varied as the careers and people themselves. Honestly, that doesn't surprise us. What it mostly seems to come down to, though, is mental health. And money. And a betta fish - but you'll get to that one.


As a highly sensitive person, I could not offer the skills required of an EMT, regardless of all the book knowledge and training I had acquired. I needed something that suited me better as a person, where I could be more effective in service to others.

Although, now that I think back on it, I didn't realize at the time that that was the issue. I just knew it wasn't for me and decided to leave.

I felt like a terrible person for a long time after that, and it wasn't until I started training as an LMT that I realized how I'm a very soft and squishy person and I was chasing after an ideal of being strong and tough. It was detrimental to my mental health because it was against my nature, and it was potentially detrimental to my patients because I would freeze up.

But at least I recognized the need for a change, even if I didn't know why. Haha.

- FortsAndStories

Just Tired

I was a chemist with a PhD. I'm now a welder. I just got tired.

I did my PhD on synthetic organic chemistry and that was the subject I found fun and interesting. However, when I was done I could only find job in analytical chemistry, something that I always found boring and tedious. Due to family reasons moving was out of the question. After a few years of boring work I thought something has to change... Why not try making my hobby (welding and metalwork) into my profession? Applied to a one year welding program and was accepted. I have worked in welding since that.

And actually, there are many similarities in mindset between welding and synthetic chemistry. Both are about constructing larger assemblies utilizing the available materials and methods for joining them together.

- OwlInspector

Terminal Burnout

I went from having a relatively successful 25 year career in IT infrastructure to being a struggling indie app/game/web developer.

I encountered a thing I've been calling Terminal Burnout. That is to say, if I'd stuck in that position, I'd probably have killed myself in the next 2-3 years. I just couldn't take the idea of working myself to death day in, day out, for no real reason. The reports I generated were rarely reviewed, as evidenced by he time I screwed up and submitted the exact SAME report for 6 different projects, without even changing project names/titles on the report. Watching my company (pharmaceutical) botch clinical trials left and right due to technical incompetence, not faulty science, then watching the execs get rich off those same failed trials... ugh, just no.

There are times when I don't know how I'm gonna pay next month's rent, but you know what? I'm doing this on MY terms, not to line the pockets of some jerk who doesn't give a damn what is going on in the building as long as their eTrade account looks sexy.

- REO_Jerkwagon

Lost That Bet 

I'm still in college (thanks to my degree switch. ~7 years for a bachelors is GREAT /sarcasm). I was going to school to become a vet and then switched over to elementary education.

Let me preface by saying I come from a family of educators and SWORE I would never become one. My dad actually made a 2k bet with me that I would switch to teaching. I lost the bet, obviously.

I was very devout in being a veterinarian. That's all I wanted to do as a kid. I read encyclopedias, gathered injured animals and "fixed" them and did job shadows at vet clinics. I was so well known from birth to my first two years in college for going into veterinary science that I had people asking me to give their pets shots and everything else.

When I moved away for college, all of my real working experience was with kids (both my parents worked at my school and it was pretty easy to be a TA or work in after school programs) and retail. So I got a job teaching kids gymnastics and at the time it was all I could really get after applying for months to various companies. I LOVED MY JOB. I absolutely fell in love with teaching.

Now, I have depression and anxiety and a lot of weird physical things that come with those. The only time I ever felt comfortable and confident was when I was working with children. Something in me clicked a year into my teaching job and suddenly teaching became the only thing I could think about. It's still the only thing I think about. Every time I learn something new, I think about how I can put it into a lesson. I make lesson plans in my head for fun. My first job teaching kids in a professional setting just sparked something in me that I didn't know I had a love for, and the fire is still burning even after nearly 5 years of college.

- NudlePockets

Raising Other People's Kids


I wasn't sleeping at night worried I was screwing up raising other people's kids. I had daily breakdowns where I would just silently cry while they took a nap. I got super impatient and very internally angry with them and knew it wasn't healthy. So I quit being a nanny and found something in an office.

- 50thusernameidea

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Couldn't Imagine Spending The Rest Of My Life...

Went to film school. Worked on sets for half a decade. A few months ago I quit to focus more on music and photography and I've never been happier. I couldn't imagine spending the rest of my life working up to 18 hour days and barely sleeping and not having any time for myself.

I mean, I'm broke and scared about being unemployed but it's been fun as hell.

- ScreamingGordita

I Can't Stand Working With Teenagers

Got my degree in English so I could become an English teacher. After working in the classroom for three years, I finally discovered that I can't stand working with teenagers.

At the same time, I was in charge of putting together all of the marketing material, email campaigns, and social media pushes for the school's theatrical productions and choral events, and I've really enjoyed it. Now I'm back to school working towards a marketing degree and an MBA so I could try my hand in that field.

Worst case scenario, I can just teach college level business—it's not really the teaching that I couldn't work with, but the emotional level and capacity of teenagers in general.

- SubtleTypos

If You Can Do Anything Else

Acting--theatre in particular and indie theatre in even more particular--was wonderful for a time and I had a lot of great experiences and made a lot of great connections. But the conventional wisdom holds, "If you can do anything else for a living, do." Meaning, if you can't bear the thought of not performing, then keep working hard at it. But if you could see yourself being happy doing something else, for the love of God, do that other thing, because sooner or later show biz will burn you out.

Fortunately I realized sooner rather than later that I simply did not have that kind of drive. It took me a long time to find a career path that suited me better, but eventually I did. (I'm a legal assistant at a law firm now, which has its own pros and cons I can go into if anyone is interested, but that isn't really part of the original question.) And I'm glad I got out when I did, because the longer I took before coming to that realization, the worse off I would have been. Now theatre is a fun hobby I can indulge in sometimes, and I'm perfectly happy with that.

- LeakyLycanthrope

Sedate Them

I worked in a call centre and it was destroying my soul because people are arseholes. So I became a nurse. People are still arseholes but now I can sedate them.

- Thenumber37

A Desktop Betta Fish


Kept getting on the job injures as a flight attendant. I'm ready for a safer desk job where I can have a desktop betta fish, plant, and eat a well balanced meal while not standing in the back galley next to the trash can and people going in and out of the lavatory (once they figure out how to open the door).

- SkyHostess

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