How to Change Careers With Student LoansFebruary 15, 2022
After finishing school and getting into the workforce, you might find that you’re not doing work you enjoy or find meaningful. The latest Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey points out that many in today’s workforce are looking for companies that share their values, as well as recognize their importance.
Employee loyalty is down, and stories of the Great Resignation might have you looking at your job and wondering how you might be able to save money for a job change to find something that better fits your own needs.
The good news is that there are steps you can complete to switch jobs, even if you’re concerned about student loans. Here’s how to change careers without losing money.
How to Change Careers Without Losing Money
Whether you’re hoping to change jobs to pay off debt or just want more fulfilling work, there are ways to save money for a job change. Here are a few tips that can help you improve your chances of getting more out of your next career — without breaking the bank or taking on new debt.
Review Your Options
Start by taking a step back and reviewing your options. Do you want to switch jobs in the same basic field, or will you need to acquire new skills? Research your potential career and determine what you might need to do to qualify for your job.
Getting a job in a related field that utilizes your current skills, knowledge, and experience is one of the easiest ways to potentially earn more money and change jobs to pay off debt — including your student loans — faster.
On the other hand, if you have to acquire new skills to change careers, you might need to look into scholarship programs (especially those for nontraditional students) and consider other ways to get that knowledge. Find out if your employer offers tuition reimbursement or some other incentive for continuing your education. You may have to stick it out a little bit longer, but the benefits might be worth it if you can get a needed certification or education without spending extra money or going deeper into debt.
Save Money for a Job Change
Create a plan to save up. One of the best ways to change jobs or careers without losing money is to wait until your next position is secured. However, if you quit or lose your current job without having something else in line, you might need to have some savings available. Set aside money each month for a job change so that you can support yourself to some degree while looking for the next position. If you lose your job, you might be eligible for unemployment benefits, so sign up for those immediately to reduce how much you need to save.
There are other ways to save money, including:
- Cut back on unneeded expenses: Review your budget and cut back on costs you don’t need. Put the extra money toward your plan to save money for a job change.
- Sell unneeded clutter: In some cases, selling items you no longer need can be a way to get money for making a job change. If you know you might be downsizing to save money on housing, a yard sale or some other method can be an excellent way to raise some funds and reduce the chances that you’ll acquire more debt for your career change.
- Consider income-driven repayment: If you have federal loans and you qualify for income-driven repayment, switching to a plan that has a lower payment may allow you to set aside the savings for your job change. Later, when you make more money, it could be possible to use that change in jobs to pay off the debt faster.
- Refinance your student loans: Another option is to refinance your student loans, especially if you have high-interest rates on private loans or PLUS loans. You could lower your overall monthly payment, providing you with extra cash. Plus, you may end up paying less interest.
- Earn more money: You can also look for ways to earn more money. Sell unwanted items, pick up a part-time second job, join the gig economy for a time, or start a work-from-home side hustle. When you ramp up your income, you can save money for a job change. Once you have your new career, you may not have to do the extra work.
Reach Out to Your Network
Your network might be the most valuable resource as you learn how to change careers without losing money. Attending local networking events and letting folks in your circle know you’re looking to shake up your job situation. Many people will send you tips, or they might even offer you a job if a position lines up. Getting introductions and learning how to reach out to others can be one of the best and easiest ways to receive referrals and land a new job without spending a lot of extra cash.
Create a Roadmap for Establishing Your New Career
Once you have an idea of what it will take, how your network can help you, and some ideas in place to save money for a job change, it’s time to create a roadmap. Think about the steps it will take to transition and how you can use your current job as a stepping stone. Are there responsibilities you can take on or skills you can learn in your current position that can be used to leverage a better job offer elsewhere? Figure that out and make your roadmap, so the transition is a little easier.
Figuring out how to change careers without losing money can be challenging, especially if you make student loan payments. However, you don’t have to stay stuck in your job. Create a plan to make that shift while still working toward paying down your student loan debt. You might find a more promising career sooner than you think.
If you decide that refinancing your student loans is a good option for you, ELFI offers flexible options for student loan refinancing that may fit your specific goals and budget.* Use our Student Loan Refinancing Calculator to get an estimate for what you could save.*