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University of Phoenix Study Shows Majority of American Workforce Is Interested in Changing Careers but Worry About Risks of Starting Over

By University of Phoenix

PHOENIX, July 13, 2017 — Recently released findings from a University of Phoenix® survey show more than half of U.S. adults are interested in changing careers, but many say the risk of starting over is a barrier to pursuing new opportunities. The survey, conducted online by Harris Poll among more than 2,000 U.S. adults of whom 1,140 were employed – revealed that 58 percent of working adults are at least somewhat interested in changing careers, with nearly a quarter (23 percent) responding that they are extremely or very interested in changing careers.

When asked what might encourage workers toward additional education to pursue a career change, working adults identified online classes (35 percent), flexible course schedules (32 percent) and accelerated or fast track curriculum (29 percent).

“With an ever-expanding job market, we anticipate that the trend toward new career paths will only grow stronger,” said Ruth Veloria, executive dean for University of Phoenix School of Business. “Many adults, including those well established in their careers are re-entering the workforce, or staying in the workforce much longer. By collaborating with industry leaders to identify relevant skills, professional development opportunities and market needs, we aim to help all adults, regardless of career level to become lifelong learners and meet their career objectives.”

Among those interested in changing careers, 81 percent identify barriers to doing so. The most cited barrier includes the 29 percent who say they cannot afford to start over again, while 24 percent said they do not know what new direction they would take, or feel they lack adequate education or experience. Compared to those with at least a bachelor’s degree (13 percent), 27 percent of those without a bachelor’s degree identify a lack of education as a barrier.

When it comes to the youngest members of the workforce, the numbers are even more staggering: 86 percent of professionals in their 20s are at least somewhat interested in changing careers. However, they are not alone. The consensus remains high among older age groups as well, with 66 percent of workers in their 30s interested in changing careers, followed by 60 percent of those in their 40s.

“A career in healthcare was a dream that seemed out-of-reach for much of my adult life, but after years of self-doubt I returned to school to make it a reality,” said Keith Davies, University of Phoenix alumnus and operations coordinator for Stanford Children’s Health. “While working full-time in finance, I needed to move forward even though I did not have the experience to go into healthcare. University of Phoenix helped me realize my past skills and experience were relevant and transferable, giving me the confidence, tools and resources I needed to help launch my new career.”

Strategies for your next big career move

It can be overwhelming to make a career change. Veloria offers tips for those who are looking to pivot in their career:

  1. Leverage your current experience. You do not have to start over, in fact, what you have gained in your past positions may translate well to another industry. If you work in financial services, but are interested in healthcare, take advantage of your past finance experience to pursue a position within a healthcare organization.
  2. Perform an honest assessment of your skills. The pace of change and innovation today means many workers can find themselves short on the skills needed to make a change. Address the gaps that make it hard to achieve your ultimate goals and seek out career relevant professional development courses that can help.
  3. Seek out a mentor. Changing careers is a major life decision, and you do not have to go at it alone. Establish a peer or mentor relationship with someone in your company or your desired field whom you can learn from. A strong mentor relationship can help you grow and better understand the opportunities, requirements and challenges involved.

For more information about the survey results, including an infographic, visit the Career Change Survey.

The career change survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix between Feb. 6-8, 2017, among 2,202 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, including 1,140 who are full-time, part-time, or self-employed. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Melany Stroupe.

About University of Phoenix® School of Business
University of Phoenix School of Business is a contemporary business school with the curriculum, faculty structure and ability to scale that reflect market needs. The School is committed to educating business leaders and leverages employer advisory boards in diverse sectors to help align curriculum with current business dynamics. Students are taught by faculty members who are often driving critical business decisions in their organizations, including hundreds in the c-suite. The School offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, as well as non-degree programs, including certificates, individual courses and non-credit professional development. Doctoral programs are available through the School for Advanced Studies. To learn more about University of Phoenix School of Business programs, visit

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 Education Group, Inc., 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