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9 Types of Career Change

A career change is the process of taking on a role that differs from your recent work experience. This includes involuntary changes driven by circumstances and changes that are pursued to improve quality of life, job satisfaction or remuneration. The following are common types of career change.


A promotion that significantly changes your responsibilities such as a software developer who becomes a manager. In many cases, a person is promoted because they are good at their current job. This doesn't necessarily mean they will be good at a completely different position higher up. Promotions can leave you less satisfied with your job if it involves a shift in duties you find unappealing. In seeking or accepting promotions it can be useful to consider factors such as work satisfaction and work-life balance.


Changing to a new job at a similar level with your current employer. For example, an administrative assistant who becomes a software developer after completing several computer science classes. This can be done to improve your compensation, seek new challenges or escape a position you find unpleasant.

Job Redesign

Negotiating new responsibilities and accountabilities in your current team. For example, a software developer who becomes a project manager. This is low risk and allows you to try new things and gain valuable experience for future roles.

Exploratory Change

Keeping your day job but trying a new career. For example, taking a one year sabbatical to write a book. It is common for career changes to look easy and rewarding until you actually make the change and discover harsh realities. Exploratory change is one way to reduce the risk of a career change.

Strategic Change

A career change that is a calculated step towards a future career goal. For example, an employee who wants to be an executive manager who changes from a role in information technology to the marketing team to improve their visibility in their organization.

Uncalculated Risk

In some cases, career changes are emotional and disorderly such that risks are completely uncalculated. For example, quitting your job to pursuit an unusually competitive profession where you have no experience.

Second Career

A career change that requires significant commitments such as education or a change in lifestyle. For example, a lawyer who becomes a hotel manager.

Work-Life Balance

A career change motivated by work-life balance such as having more time for your life or reducing stress. For example, an IT manager who becomes a software developer so that they can work on contract from home.


Founding a startup or small business. This is often a considerable risk that is undertaken due to a strong motivation to define your own business and life.
Overview: Career Change
The process of taking on a role that differs from your recent work experience.
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