Getting back into a career field after a hiatus

So assume you have a degree or work experience in field X, then decide you want to change and try field Y for 2-10 years or so for whatever reason. Or become a stay at home parent.

Even if you have a degree or work experience in field X, will you run into major problems if you try to go back to it (ie employers will not hire you) after a hiatus, or does it vary by field?

What about doing a masters degree in the field when you want to go back into it, would that be a good way to segue back into it?

Being a consultant to keep up to date doesn’t really seem like a realistic option, but I have heard people say that that is something they’ve done to keep up to date with a certain field and keep their skills decent.


The best way is to try to get back into the business with part time work. Especially now with so many people out of work, you’re going to be going head to head with people who have education and experience. But some of those people might now want a job with a few hours.

So you could get a foot in that way.

Or volunteer work if your line of work has that option, though right now there are so many volunteers trying that a lot of places aren’t even using them.

This is the first Christmas I in my life, where I couldn’t find anyone who needed a volunteer. Everywhere I went, everyone told me, “too many volunteers as it is.”

A degree most likely won’t help much again, because so many people are out of work you’re going to be competing against others with degrees and experience.

Also don’t forget about other jobs that may be open. Let’s say you have accounting experience, you may be able to find a job as a receptionist (even for a few hours a week) at a large accounting firm. That way you’ll hear about future jobs before they are ever posted, and you’ll make contacts, as well.

A lot of jobs are got as higher ups like to take their staffs with them when they move or get promoted.

Are there technological changes taking place in the field of interest? Example in the mid 70s I left the clinical laboratory for the veterinary laboratory. When I needed to return to the clinical laboratory the technological changes were so great that they wouldn’t return me to my old job. They rehired me in an administrative capacity - better pay but I just hated it.

It really varies by field. In almost all fields it will set you back a bit and there will be some barriers to re-entering the field, unless maybe if you happen to time it right during a boom.

The master’s degree thing does work for a lot of people. Companies like to hire new college graduates and do a lot of recruiting at colleges. Of course, that’s an investment of another year or two of time, plus tuition. But it is definitely better to take time off, then get a master’s, then re-enter than to get a bachelor’s and master’s, then take time off, then re-enter.

In some fields it makes sense to keep up membership in a professional association. In other fields it may be more about maintaining your relationships with people. And in still other fields there are specific licenses you need to keep current.