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By Vincent R. Birardi, AIF®, Wealth Advisor at Halbert Hargrove.

I’m writing this post to share advice on a topic I know intimately. As a proud career-changer myself, I’m here to tell you that changing careers is absolutely doable provided you follow a few prudent steps to carefully vet and then plot your move.

Particularly if you’re well into your current vocation, moving to a new career is no small endeavor. To do it successfully, there’s a tall amount of research and potential risk to contend with. But maybe you’re unhappy or unfulfilled by your work or simply believe you could find greater personal reward elsewhere. If you’re willing to make the time investment and understand the risks, your ability to succeed in securing a career that better aligns with your passions should be well within reach.

Based on my own experience, I’ve organized my recommendations into three key areas of focus you’ll need to investigate and plan for.

1) Careful research is critical

When someone asks me about how to go about changing careers, the first thing I ask is What’s your passion? Starting with a clear understanding of what you truly enjoy doing and the kinds of intellectual interests you have is essential to finding the career that’s right for you.

My own story exemplifies this. I’d enjoyed a successful career in financial technology for more than two decades, working for highly regarded global firms – and even had the opportunity to work in Hong Kong for four years during that time. My responsibilities dealt with managing and delivering strategic technology solutions to my corporate bosses.  Modestly said, I was good at it but I wasn’t getting enough satisfaction from my work.

I love working with people – and helping them in a direct way. I wanted to have more of an impact on people’s lives. I racked my brain for years: Was there something out there that would be a better fit for me?

These are the questions I asked myself that helped me find the answers I needed:

  • What’s my passion?
  • What careers are available to people whose passions are similar to mine?
  • Are these careers available where I currently live or would I have to relocate?
  • What are the educational requirements of the careers I was considering?
  • What are the typical starting salaries for these new careers?

The Internet is a great place to seek out answers to questions like these. Be sure to consult multiple websites to qualify the information you find.

2) Networking (aka deeper research) is critical to getting real-life answers

Research on the Internet is useful but to get a full picture of what it’s like to live a particular career, you need real-life opinions. Start by asking family members, friends, and colleagues to suggest people they know with whom you could speak. LinkedIn is also an excellent resource to connect with people in the career you’re investigating.

A great tactic is to request a 30-minute informational interview with the people you’d like to connect with. I was pleasantly surprised at how willing so many people were willing to help me and provide me with key firsthand knowledge of what it’s really like to work in the career I now have.

I devoted about four months to networking and was able to tap into a community of kind and generous people who were happy to make introductions to others. I learned a tremendous amount, not least about the kindness and generosity of total strangers.

3) You’ll likely need to save ahead in anticipation of starting fresh

Many people who launch on a new path may be starting from scratch in terms of expertise and experience. The odds are fairly high that you’ll need to take a lower salary to start over in a new career. Be sure to plan ahead and pad your emergency savings. This can serve as a buffer to offset any salary decrease as you prepare to formally make your move.

The ultimate goal:  Looking forward to going to work every day

If I’ve had the good fortune to work with you since I joined Halbert Hargrove, you’ve hopefully noticed how much I love what I do. This is my dream job, one that combines my strong interest in personal finance and joy in helping people solve challenges, and provides me with an outlet for drawing energy from and enjoying the company of others. My journey to finding my current role was a very affirming experience – and I wish that for everyone.

Statistics show that most people change careers at least once in their lives. Life is too short to feel trapped in a career with which you’ve fallen out of love.  So pursue your passion. My life is proof positive that dreams can come true. Good luck!

For more information or questions, please contact Halbert Hargrove at