Skip to main content

How to change career when you have no money


Address your financial worries when changing career

Are you avoiding changing your career because you feel you don't have the money to set up in a new career. Or perhaps you are worried about leaving a well paid career in order to retrain. People often don't make a career change because they feel they can't financially afford to make the move.

But if you are worried about the financial implications of changing career don't despair. There are many ways you can change career while continuing to pay the bills. Think outside the box and read the ideas below.

Examine your attitute to money, career and life

Firstly you have to look at how important money and material possessions are to you in life. There's no doubt it is nice to have some money and it is impossible to live without it in this society but if you are trading being miserable everyday at a job you don't like just for the money I would say that this is a poor trade.

Look at your life and see what can you live without in order to make a change to your career. Are you buying lunch everyday - check out how much money you're spending every day on lunch? Do you run a car you can do without? Or consider running a smaller car which can save money. Can you move to a smaller house? Do you have an expensive shopping habit you could curb while you're changing your career? What material possessions can you sell to fund a career change. Consider decluttering and downsizing so you have less mortgage or rent payments. Read more about the advantages and realities of downsizing. Getting rid of lots of stuff and living in a smaller space can actually be really liberating. You're no longer having to work in a job you don't like to keep up with the Jones's.

Having the latest gadgets or a big house won't make you happy if you're spending all your time working in a career you don't enjoy to pay for your lifestyle.

Life is sometimes about choices and quite often people choose to be in a job they don't like because they feel the can't live without the expensive gadgets and holidays rather than doing something they love and cutting down on the material possessions. What choices are you making?

Know that it can be hard work

There is no quick fix to changing career or life paths. It can be hard work especially if you don't have money. But - if you are working in towards something in your life that you enjoy doing and if you are changing career to something you are passionate about and love the work - the fact that it will take a lot of effort won't matter because you will be loving your new work and enjoying every minute. If you don't feel like this about your new career - maybe you are not making the best change for you.

Changing career can be done with no money by gaining experience by doing things like working for free, doing voluntary work, working part time while you are studying.You may need to gain a side income while gaining experience in your chosen field. There are also lots of grants and student loans available so you can study full time. Colleges in the UK often have hardship funds to help students on low incomes. If you become a full time student use libraries to get access to all the textbooks that you need.

When I changed careers I cut down on all my outgoings, expenditure, moved into a small flat and worked part time in the evenings while I studied. I got a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board who paid for my tuition fees and gave me about 1500 to live on. This isn't an awful lot (especially as I lived in London) but it helped me tremendously. It was hard work but it was enjoyable and it was worth it. If I hadn't have got a grant from the AHRB I had already decided that I would study the course part time (two days a week) and find a job working the other three in order to support myself.

If you want to study, there are evening couses, part time courses and distance learning courses which you can fit around a job. There are so many options available today as so much learning can be facilitated over the Internet and using electronic resources. Get online and start investigating.

Think outside the box

There are also lots of ways you can alter your current career path or change career without studying or spending a fortune. Take a look at the ideas below for inspiration on how to change you career. They may be a good solution for you or they may not be exactly for you but it will get you thinking about ways you can change your career and life.

Look at opportunities with your current employer

Does your current employer have different areas of the business in which you may be able to retrain and work? This would mean you still have a job and are earning but learning new skills and gaining new experience at the same time. This will help make you more employable in different careers. Sometimes even a change of location to a different site may satisfy your desire to change. Also, look at any training course your employer offers that may be of interest to you and grab them with both hands.

Retrain on the job

If you need to retrain to change your career but can't afford to do it full time look at jobs which are trainee positions and earn while you learn. It may mean having to take a drop in wages but if you look at your payment in terms of gaining skills and experience as well as money, you will find that the pay back will be high. Also,once you have learnt new skills you should be able to increase you earnings again.

Start your own business in your spare time.

Think about starting up a business doing something you love. Perhaps you have a hobby, gardening, painting, designing websites which you could turn into a business. You could start providing the service in your spare time while you are working in your current job. Also, consider providing your service/talents for free at the beginning. This has many benefits. Firstly, you get to find out if you really will enjoy doing it for a living. If you really enjoy your hobby, you won't mind doing it for free because you are doing something you love. Secondly, you will find out if your career/hobby has a market. If you offer your service for free, there should be local businesses, friends and family who are lining up to get your free service. If you don't manage to get any interest it could be that your hobby has no demand and you will need to rethink your service, or completely change the idea. Thirdly, working for free will be marketing in itself. If you work is good, the people you work for should give referrals, so you can start to build a client base. As demand for your service grows, you can start charging what you are really worth. Finally, you will learn along the way. You will refine and progress your skills as you work for free. You will learn more about what your clients want and need and how to do things well. Then when you start charging clients your business will have more value. Once you have built up a big enough client base you can give up your day job and you have your change of career.

Check out this article on 50 business you can start in your spare time.

Investigate careers with skill shortages

Scroll to Continue

There are careers with shortages that will pay you to train. For example, consider teaching or nursing. If you are entering a profession with a skills shortage you are also more likely to gain paid employment fairly rapidly after completing your training

Expand your thinking

If your ideal career means spending a lot of money on training or a long period of study you could think about other jobs in the same line of work that you may find it easier to move into. For example, you may want to be a sports teacher but don't have the time or money to get a teaching qualification. Perhaps you could choose a specific sport you have experience in and be a tennis or a football coach. If you want to work with animals and would like to be a vet but don't have the qualfications, perhaps you could work with an animal charity or start your own pet sitting business.

Get experience with voluntary work

If you can't afford to retrain can you gain experience by doing voluntary work? Voluntary work can be done alongside paid employment in your spare time. As well as traditional volunteering opportunities consider offering your services to businesses or companies in your area. If you're committed, enthusiastic and will work for free, you may be able to gain some fantastic opportunities. It will help you build your confidence, your CV and if you work hard enough you may find you get offered paid employment.

Cut down your expenditure

If you have little money you need to ensure that every penny you do have is being spent wisely and not unneccessarily so you can put every thing you can towards your career change.

Spend an afternoon going through your expenditure and make sure you are paying the cheapest tarriff on all your household bills. An excellent site especially for UK readers is Money Saving Expert for ensuring you pay the least possible on all bills from broadband, to gas and electricity to telephone.

Get organised. Set yourself a meal plan and a budget to stick to when you go shopping. Remember every item of food you throw away is money you've spent and wasted. Cut up your credit cards.

I'm not going to go through everything you could do to cut your expenditure here. That's a different lens but make sure that your finances are examined and keep re-examining them to get the money you need to change career.

If you need to rethink your lifestyle or learn to spend less money in order to change your career, these links may help

  • Miss Minimalist
    Miss Minimalist helps you see how you can live a beautiful life with less stuff.And less stuff can mean more money for spending on things that you really want to do with your life.
  • 10 Ways to Make Money on the Side
    An interesting article about 10 ways you have never thought of to make money on the side. Would you be prepared to cover your car with advertisements, work freelance or sell your gold jewelry?

Or share experiences of how you changed your career.

Please share any further ideas for changing your career with little or no money.

Miles on April 04, 2018:

"If you need to retrain to change your career but can't afford to do it full time look at jobs which are trainee positions and earn while you learn." Sure, maybe the unicorn down the road is hiring, or I can ask around my network of fellow leprechauns.

Tricia Deed from Orlando, Florida on October 04, 2013:

The one thing which I have always done is to know that I am truly interested in making a career change. Investigate the company where I will experience a career change. List my talents and experiences to be sure that I truly can offer my services to enhance their company. In the interview I admit to short comings or lack of education and sell myself with confidence. This has worked for me because the interviewer sensed by sincerity, honesty, willingness to work hard, and I am a fast learner. In exchange the new career people were willing to educate me on the job or send me to workshops and seminars to further my career with their firm. I always made it a point that in exchange for acquiring knowledge with their firm (whether they asked me to or not) I committed to a time frame of working to offset their expenses in training me. There is a reality that if the new change required specific education or skills which I did not have, I did not pursue these avenues. Free career changes come about if the current skills require fine tuning or a reasonable cost by the company to invest in me.

Tricia Deed from Orlando, Florida on September 28, 2013:

I have often changed my career but accepting jobs with training. This is the best way to get paid and attend school at the same time. Granted you do not earn a degree, but what you learn on the job is the real thing. If you know your product will sell "just start". There is a yoga expression which says that when the student is ready the teacher will be there. I have found this to be true for me. Where there is a will there is a way. When the right choice has been made help or assistance is on its way. I have always found the yoga statement to be true. Bear in mind, if you are not ready, there is no teacher, no help, and no assistance. You have to have the talent, skills, and motivation to drive yourself to success.

ScentsWithBling on September 12, 2013:

Great lens and great info!

iayane on August 17, 2013:

Nice lens and very well written, thank you!

iayane on August 17, 2013:

Nice lens and very well written, thank you!

CircleSquare1 on February 27, 2013:

Nicely written & informative post.

UKMarkWilliam on February 14, 2013:

Interesting and informative

PaigSr from State of Confusion on June 16, 2012:

Thanks I will be looking further into what you have posted.

ryokomayuka from USA on May 25, 2012:

Great food for thought. Great Lens.

makeupbrush on March 05, 2012:

I am in the process of trying to set up my little business online and offline while working a job that I get a bit burned out of. Not that easy at all. And there is investment involved. But this lens give people hope and make people think in a bigger picture.

moonlitta on August 26, 2011:

Easier said than done, but still a pretty good list and recommendations!

moonlitta on August 26, 2011:

Easier said than done, but still a pretty good list and recommendations!

javr from British Columbia, Canada on November 24, 2010:

Thanks for pointing out the very helpful links.

Athrunxala on October 26, 2010:

Outstanding lens, I've actually been in this situation for a while now. So this career guidance is exactly what I need. Thank you for sharing this and please keep posting.

LuvTan on April 22, 2010:

Great Lens! This boosts men and women's confidence towards their career.

LuvTan on April 22, 2010:

Great Lens! This boosts men and women's confidence towards their career.

CherryDouglas on April 13, 2010:

An excellent mixture of pratical, down-to-earth suggestions mixed with some encouragement to think laterally. This is just the combination you need to make a successful career change. Read more about hwo to change careers at

JennySui on November 12, 2009:

Very useful lens. Specially for people who want to change their career.5 stars for you.

Laniann on July 19, 2009:

If you are really unhappy in your current job sometimes you may just have to take a leap of faith and go to the other job. Good tips.

Related Articles