More than Half of Working Adults are Interested in Changing Careers and
Nearly Three-Quarters are Not in the Career they Planned, Reveals University
of Phoenix Survey
The most desired careers are in arts and sciences, business management and
PHOENIX -- July 1, 2013
A recent University of Phoenix® survey finds that more than half (55 percent)
of working adults are interested in changing careers, with nearly a quarter
(24 percent) extremely or very interested in a career change. Only 14 percent
of American workers are in their dream careers. The most desired careers are
in arts and sciences (17 percent), business management (16 percent) and
technology (14 percent).
The survey also looks at the barriers to career change and whether or not
working adults are living up to their own expectations, and those of their
parents. The online survey of more than 1,600 U.S. employed adults was
conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of University of Phoenix in April
Who wants to change careers?
Although 78 percent of younger workers in their 20s are interested in changing
careers, they are not the only ones. In fact, 64 percent of working adults in
their 30s are interested in changing careers, followed by 54 percent in their
40s, 51 percent in their 50s and 26 percent who are 60 years or older. Even in
upper levels of management, there is a considerable desire to change careers.
Forty-three percent of C-level executives are at least somewhat interested in
changing careers, with more than a quarter (26 percent) very or extremely
“It is not uncommon for working adults to consider one or multiple career
changes,” said Dr. Bill Pepicello, president of University of Phoenix.
“Choosing one career path after high school or college and sticking with it
for the rest of a career is becoming less common as the pace of business and
technology quickly change jobs and industries. At University of Phoenix, we
see many working adults coming back to school 10 to 20 years after they
started their careers to prepare for a new career or find new growth
opportunities in their current industry.”
Where workers live can have a considerable effect on their interest in
changing careers. Working adults in San Francisco are much less likely than
workers across the nation to want to change careers, with 60 percent saying
they are not at all interested in changing careers, compared to the national
average of 45 percent. New Yorkers are more interested in change than most
Americans, with 33 percent of working adults in New York City reporting they
are very or extremely interested in career change, compared to the national
average of 24 percent. Overall, 62 percent of New York City workers are at
least somewhat interested in career change. Sixty-seven percent of workers in
Atlanta and 60 percent of those in Los Angeles are interested in career
change, followed by Chicago (55 percent) and Dallas-Ft. Worth (52 percent).
The survey also reveals that workers in small and very large companies are
less likely to want to change careers than those working in mid-size
companies. More than half (52 percent) of workers in companies with less than
100 employees are not at all interested in changing careers, compared to 38
percent in companies with between 100 and 10,000 workers and 42 percent with
10,000 or more employees.
Living up to Expectations
Ninety percent of working adults report that they had career plans when they
were younger. Of those, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) say that they are
not currently in the career they had planned when they were younger, while
only 27 percent are in that career. Among those who had career plans when they
were younger, women (77 percent) are significantly more likely than men (68
percent) to report that they are not currently in the career they had planned.
Those with college degrees are more likely to have followed their anticipated
career path. Seventy-nine percent of working adults without a bachelor’s
degree who had career plans when they were younger are not currently working
in that career, compared with 63 percent of their counterparts who do have a
bachelor’s degree or higher level of education.
Eighty percent of working adults say that their parents had career
expectations for them while they were growing up. Of those whose parents had
career expectations for them, half (50 percent) report that they have done
better in their career in terms of reaching those goals. Twenty-seven percent
consider their achievements about equal to their parents’ career goals for
them and 23 percent feel they have done worse compared to those goals.
Living the Dream
Only 14 percent of American workers say they are in their dream careers.
Nearly one-in-five (19 percent) workers who say they are in their dream career
work in business management, followed by 16 percent in health care.
Working for yourself or being at the top of an organization does not
necessarily help. In fact, only 20 percent of business owners say they are in
their dream careers. Sixteen percent of C-level executives say they are in
their dream career; only slightly higher than the national average. Location
does seem to make a difference as San Francisco workers are more likely to be
in their dream careers (22 percent). Only eight percent each of workers in
Dallas-Ft. Worth and Los Angeles say they are in their dream careers.
When it comes to the most desired careers, 17 percent of workers identify
careers in the arts and sciences as their dream careers. This is followed by
business and management (16 percent), technology (14 percent) and healthcare
(12 percent). Education and psychology/social sciences were both identified by
11 percent of workers as desired dream careers, followed by criminal justice
and security (10 percent), skilled trades (8 percent) and military (3
Barriers to Career Change
Among those working adults who are interested in changing careers, 95 percent
identify barriers that are preventing them from doing so. More than half (57
percent) cite a lack of financial security, while 40 percent have uncertainty
about what other career to change to and 37 percent identify a lack of
adequate education or experience. Nearly one-third (32 percent) fear the
unknown and 31 percent consider themselves to be too advanced in age or in
their current position to change careers now. Forty-three percent of those
without a bachelor’s degree identify lack of adequate education/experience as
a barrier, which is significantly higher than those with a bachelor’s degree
or more (26 percent).
“There is a skills gap in America, which has contributed to more than three
million open positions,” said Pepicello. “There are definitely opportunities,
and professionals who have done their homework will have an advantage. It is
important that those looking to change careers understand where the jobs are,
the necessary skills, how experience from previous employment will translate
to a new industry and the skills they still need to grow.”
To help individuals take control of their career search and management,
University of Phoenix has introduced the Phoenix Career Services™ portal, a
comprehensive set of career resources and tools. This includes the Career
Interest Profiler that assists in discovering how one’s personal interests
relate to careers; the Job Market Research Tool that helps determine where the
jobs are, salary information and what companies are hiring; and a Career Plan,
a personalized roadmap that enables individuals to create a detailed plan for
their academic journey.
To learn more about Phoenix Career Services, visit
www.phoenix.edu/careerservices, and for more information about University of
Phoenix degree programs, visit www.phoenix.edu.
This Working Adult survey was conducted online within the United States by
Harris Interactive on behalf of University of Phoenix between April 18-26,
2013, among 1,616 U.S. adults age 18 or older who are full-time, part-time, or
self-employed. The data include oversamples in New York City, Los Angeles,
Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, San Francisco, and Atlanta. This online survey is
not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical
sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including
weighting variables, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults move
efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible
schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help
students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while
balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:
APOL), University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering
associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and
learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For
more information, visit www.phoenix.edu.
University of Phoenix
Tanya Burden, 303-570-0617
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