Survey: How many Canadians would choose a different career path if they had the chance?

According to a new survey, 26 per cent of Canadians feel they are overqualified for their current job. Getty Images

Knowing what you know now, would you choose the same career path as you did back in college or university?

According to a new Monster Canada survey, over half of working Canadians (53 per cent) would choose to pursue a different degree or diploma if they could turn back time.

Only less than one-third, however, say they would pursue the same degree or diploma, and one in 10 would skip school altogether and enter straight into the workforce.

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“I was not that surprised to see that many people would actually study something different, should they have gotten the chance,” Arturo Gallo, content manager at Monster Canada, says. “I think that’s something we all realize at some point in our careers when we experience ups and downs. We ask ourselves if we’re doing the right thing.”

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When broken down by gender, women are more likely to want to redo their education (54 per cent), although men are not far behind (51 per cent).

As well, 40 per cent of women feel their degree or diploma wasn’t worth obtaining compared to 36 per cent of men.

According to the survey of 817 working Canadians, the reason for this may be because most people are craving a challenge in their careers that they’re just not getting. Of those surveyed, two-thirds (67 per cent) feel they are appropriately qualified for their jobs while one-quarter (26 per cent) feel they are overqualified.

Young Canadians between 18 and 34 years old, as well as people in the 55 to 64 age group, are the most likely to feel overqualified for their current job (29 per cent).

When it comes to people pursuing another career later in life, a 2014 study by Statistics Canada found that over half of workers in the 55 to 64 age bracket who left long-term jobs between 1994 and 2000 were re-employed within a decade.

“It’s never too late to have a second chance,” Gallo says. “When we find ourselves at a crossroads in our profession in which we feel we’re not getting what we deserve – we’re not growing as we wish we were – it really is a great time to rethink if you’re on the right path.”

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For career counsellor Lee Weisser of professional consulting agency Careers by Design, the results of this study and the results of Monster Canada’s survey are a realistic reflection of what Canadian workers are feeling today.

“About 75 per cent of my clients want to make some kind of career transition and they could be at any stage of life,” Weisser says. “From young people who just graduated from a four-year program who realize that it isn’t what they want to do, to people who are mid-life or later who feel burnt out from what they’re doing, or are bored and want a little more meaning in their life.”

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But for many, the mere thought of a career change can be scary, Weisser says.

“Even if people want a change, it can sometimes be hard to leave what’s familiar,” she says. “Economically, though, it’s just not feasible for some people to stop working and go back to school for two to four years. But you don’t necessarily have to go back and start at square one. There might be an online certificate program they can take while they’re still working in their current career, they could job shadow somebody who’s doing that career [one they want to be doing] or volunteering. It’s really important to test the waters.”
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So before jumping in with both feet, Weisser and Gallo advise that people who are thinking about going back to school or taking on a second career should do their homework first.

This means figuring out what kind of demands are there for your potentially new career, and start talking to people in the field to get their perspective and expertise.

“The most important thing is to be prepared and do research,” Gallo says. “Make sure you’re ready for a career change. Ask yourself if you’re growing in [your current] job, if this is really what you want to do. There’s a lot of introspection that needs to be done before jumping into a new career and taking that leap of faith to do something different.”

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