Here’s the thing about planning a career change: it’s never going to seem like an easy decision. The best things rarely do. Changing careers is stressful at any age, particularly when you’re staring down the barrel of a three-year Bachelor degree.
The good news is that, these days, changing careers doesn’t necessarily mean putting your life on hold. There are dozens of online courses that can make the transition easier. In fact, online learning is booming in Australia. One in five students now study ‘off campus’, and online learners usually report higher overall levels of student satisfaction. It’s never been easier to switch careers and learn some new skills.
Here are five ways online courses can help with your mid-life career change.
Obviously the biggest advantage with online courses is flexibility. Studying online means you can get your qualifications after work or on the weekends. There’s no need to give up your full-time job. The Grattan Institute says most online learners value the immediacy of the internet: there’s no commute to class, and people can tailor their study around work and family commitments. RMIT Online follows this broad approach. Most of our online courses are a mix of tutorials, webinars and online lectures. Students can jump in or out whenever they like. And it’s not just universities either: specialist online learning companies like Udacity have made flexible learning the new normal.
Traditional education always worked on a ‘more is more’ approach. The standard Bachelor degree was three years of full-time study, with post-graduate qualifications chewing up several additional years. Obviously this model doesn’t suit the average 30-something looking for a career change. Most people can’t put their lives on hold for three years. Online courses are typically much faster than a traditional university qualification: some of RMIT Online’s Future Skills courses can be completed in just six weeks. And there’s an ancillary benefit: money. Unlike Bachelor fees, which can stretch into the six figures and beyond, online courses generally cost between $900 and $4000, depending on length and complexity.
Online courses are also generally more ‘future-focussed’. This isn’t just education sector jargon either – it really matters. ‘Future focussed’ means the skills you learn through online education (as a rule) are more up-to-date with industry trends and current thinking. Online curriculums are being revised and iterated all the time. As an education provider, we’re constantly tweaking and improving our online courses, based on industry advice, new technologies and emerging methodologies. If you’re considering a career swap, this is a big deal. You want job (and a qualification) that’s resilient to change: maybe a tech-based field like blockchain, data science or CX Strategy.
There’s a common myth about online education: studying online means studying alone. This isn’t really the case. It’s true that online courses (by definition) have less face-to-face time than on-campus learning, but that doesn’t mean you’re not part of a community. At RMIT, our students have lots of ways to get support. Every online course has a Slack group or message board, where you can post questions and get advice from your peers. There are one-on-one student mentors – usually lecturers or industry experts – who check-in and monitor your progress. We’ve also got a whole student support system in place, if you need help with your curriculum, fee payments, or anything else.
Study with industry
Career changes are often intimidating, especially if you’re jumping from a broad, non-technical industry (say HR or Sales) into a specialised tech field (like AI strategy, UX design or Python programming). The good news is that online learning is perfect for this kind of leap. The qualifications are usually staggered and modular – you can start with an introductory course, then increase the complexity at your own pace. RMIT Online courses are also built in partnership with industry. There’s a couple of benefits to this: first, you get taught by the people who actually do this stuff for a living. Secondly, there are lots of opportunities for industry placements and on-the-job learning. And thirdly, you can build your professional network, which increases your chances of getting hired down the track.