The thought of changing jobs — let alone careers — can be a scary one, no matter where you are in your professional life. This fact should remove some of the fear, however: There are many fields to which you can transfer by getting two years or less of education and/or training. Depending on where you are now and where you'd like to be in the future, you may decide that six months in a technical school or two years spent on a new associate's degree would be well worth your time.
With that — and a little help from the Bureau of Labor Statistics — let's look at six potential landing spots. Below, we break down the amount of training needed; the projected job growth through 2024; the median salary as of 2015; and how to get started within the industry. Whether you're interested in medicine, technology or green jobs, there may be something for you.
Training: 9 months to 2 years
Getting Started: Dental assistants are the right-hand men or women of the dentist or dental hygienist, but they're not a secretary. DAs, for short, must know the dentist's tools as well as he or she does; often work directly with patients to gather medical information or schedule appointments; and can administer basic care and treatments. About 73% work full-time. They come to the profession after choosing a specialty (such as general dentistry or periodontics) and then obtaining a certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree from a technical school or college. You could complete that path for less than $9,000 when it's all said and done.
Training: 2 or more years
Getting Started: There are many kinds of nurses, from midwife to nurse practitioner and beyond, but once registered, a nurse can specialize in many disciplines, whether it's education, pain management, trauma or critical care, to name a few options. Typically RNs with bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees can advance the fastest, but all it takes to join the fold is a two-to-three-year diploma or associate's degree program. The diploma route could simply set you back $5,184 to $6,114, according to our research. And if you find that you want to climb the ladder later, you could always go back to school again in the future.
3. Web Developer
Training: 3 to 4 months or (much) more
Getting Started: Web developer is actually now an umbrella term that can contain many other newer job titles, such as UX or UI designer. These folks are no longer just designing websites, but also mobile applications and other online platform products. And what used to require a bachelor's degree in computer science or perhaps an associate's degree now sees its future professionals — and lifelong learners — being sent on their way after as little as a 15-week "coding" bootcamp that covers the basics and gets its students ready for the job market. In this case, your paying for that speed. Tuition for shorter-term schooling is typically at least $10,000 and may even include percentage of your first salary.
4. Automotive Technician
Training: 6 months or more
Getting Started: With cars turning into computers on wheels, the cliched mechanic is no longer just getting his or hands dirty. These technicians must hone their craft under the hood and on the web. Six months to a year of program education would make you more attractive to potential employers. But expect on-the-job training — this is another position for lifelong learners — and realize that certification, which requires continuing education, is the currency in this field.
5. Wind Turbine Technicians
Training: 2 years at most
Getting Started: Associate's degree programs can get you working in 24 months or less, and there will also be a year of employer-offered training. Windtechs, as they're known, do everything from install, fix and maintain turbines. The demand for this skillset grew from a greater interest in the U.S. generating electricity from wind.
6. Solar Photovoltaic Installers
Training: 1 year at most
Getting Started: Yes, installing solar panels is the main component of this gig, which clearly isn't going away and requires mostly on-the-job training from an employer. There are technical and college courses to give you a head-start and set you apart, but they're not completely necessary.