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2020 is shaping up to be an unusual year for the job market. Most years, it is either slightly up or down, but the COVID-19 pandemic has turned it on its head.

Things are so extreme that it is dividing opinion. Some commentators are arguing that people should play it safe and stick with the jobs that they have. Others are pointing out that the crisis is the perfect opportunity for a new start.

In this post, we’re going to indulge in the latter perspective. If you’re looking for a new and lucrative career, now is the time to act.

The coronavirus of 2020 is (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to shake things up a little, take a leap of faith, and jump into a more rewarding career.

Take a look at these five career change ideas.

Career Change Idea #1: Blockchain Developer

Blockchain Technology

For many, blockchain is the most exciting technology to emerge in the last decade – perhaps even more so than artificial intelligence. The digital platform is crucial because it facilitates trustless transactions between parties who do not know each other. Many believe it has the potential to revolutionize finance and banking in ways that are hard to imagine.

Currently, if you want to trade with somebody you don’t know, you need to rely on a trusted intermediary. When you buy something using a debit card, banks remove funds from your account and place them into the merchant’s, keeping the total amount of money in the system constant.

Financial institutions are, therefore, necessary to prevent fraud. Without them, buyers and sellers can type whatever numbers they liked into their accounts, and the financial system would collapse.

Blockchain, however, relegates this task to smart networked software. The idea is to get a network of computers to agree who has what and then create a permanent, immutable record of transactions. No individual user can claim to operate under a different set of conditions if it does not tally with the records across the rest of the network.

Blockchain developers are, therefore, in massive demand, especially in the emerging fintech sector. The technology’s potential is genuinely staggering, with mainstream banks now jumping on the opportunity to get ahead of the disruption coming their way.

Becoming a blockchain developer doesn’t necessarily require any formal education. The sector is almost entirely unregulated, meaning that anybody can apply for a role. You will, however, need to understand the principles behind the concept, and how to use it. A blockchain developer must understand blockchain architecture, autonomous contracts and oracles, tokens, and currency platforms, like Ripple and Ethereum.

Career Change Idea #2: Electrician

Professional Electrician

If you’re more comfortable using their hands, you might want to consider making the switch and becoming an electrician.

Life as an electrician can be both rewarding and exciting.

For starters, the pay is excellent. There is currently a shortage of skilled electricians in the market. This is allowing some workers to put their fees up to around £3,000 a week (approximately $3,700). Furthermore, wages are rising by about 10 percent per year, suggesting that there is still significant room to run.

Life as an electrician is also rewarding for a second reason: the variety of the work. When you become a self-employed professional, you have free rein over the contracts you take.

Domestic electricians, for instance, install and repair wiring and lighting systems, inspect components around the home for electrical safety, carry out full home inspections, and test appliances. They also involve themselves in other tasks, such as fitting circuit breakers and transformers and assisting other contractors in renovation projects.

Commercial electricians have opportunities to take on even more complex jobs, including wiring up switchboards and ensuring that firms put in place adequate electrical safety measures for heavy equipment. Many electricians who go in this direction go into fast-growing industries, such as solar power.

The average commercial electrician wage is around $3,600 higher than its domestic counterpart.

Once you qualify, you are free to work for yourself and charge customers whatever you feel you are worth. Setting up your firm gives you the freedom to determine your income and how many hours you work each week, without following the instructions of an employer.

If you decide to join an electrical firm, your boss will decide on the projects you take on. However, you won’t be responsible for drumming up trade – marketers at the enterprise will do that for you.

Career Change Idea #3: Network Administrator

A Network Administrator At Work

 Network administrators are currently in high demand because of massive growth in the IT industry. Companies are calling out for people who understand computer systems and can keep them operational.

The primary role of network administrators is to provide real-time support to ensure that systems run at peak performance. They install and repair hardware, update software, and monitor computer performance. Part of their role is to look for bottlenecks and find reasons why performance might be sluggish.

Network integrity is also at the forefront of many company IT strategies today. The costs of losing data are enormous because of litigation and lost productivity. Companies need people who can offer them protection against hackers and prevent data loss.

Often, this task requires taking a two-pronged approach: improving both security systems and providing training to staff. Companies, therefore, often ask network administrators to do both. Hence, the role can be both technical and educational.

So what perks can you expect by becoming a network administrator?

The advantages of becoming a network administrator are considerable. Like so many other roles in IT, it is in-demand – something that companies need, especially during the current coronavirus crisis. Firms want network administrators to help them hook up to the cloud, integrate with emerging technologies, like 5G, and boost their workflow management. According to Forbes, in-demand tech positions, like network administrator, grew by 30.2 percent in the year, running up to March 2020.

The booming market means that career prospects are excellent. Network administrators can expand their skillset and specialize in different areas of network management. Most people can get lucrative roles straight after coming out of university or training, without having first to gain years of experience.

Network administrators are also able to work remotely – something which is becoming increasingly important as we move into a post-pandemic economy. Distributed IT companies are always on the lookout for bright network administrators who can help clients manage their systems from home.

Network administrators can also look forward to improved job security compared to many other professions. Even during the current crisis (in which companies are furloughing millions of workers), network administrators have plenty of work. Firms still need professionals who can connect their remote workforces to their HQ and restructure their network resources.

 Going into network administration is also ideal for people who enjoy teamwork and collaboration. Network admin staff often work alongside other professionals in teams and communities, designed to solve problems. If you decide to take a role in this area, you may spend a large chunk of your day speaking with colleagues and coming up with solutions to complex business problems. It is, therefore, an ideal role for team players.

Network administrators typically earn around $58,000 per year, though this can rise substantially with experience. Entry requirements for the profession are relatively low. Most employers prefer you to have a degree, but you can find work with less time-consuming and expensive qualifications.

Career Change Idea #4: Gas Engineer

Natural Gas

Gas engineers are skilled professionals who work with gas appliances. Unlike other traders, they must gain formal gas training before they can start their work. Once they get it, they can access more lucrative contracts than regular builders or contractors.

Getting a gas engineer qualification is surprisingly fast and easy. Typically a gas safety training and certification takes around a year, but some people get it done in under 25 weeks. So, while it’s not instant, you don’t have to dedicate years of your life to training. Once you understand the basics, you’re able to work on gas appliances safely and legally.

So, why become a gas engineer?

First, the pay tends to be good – starting salaries are around 10 to 20 percent above the national average. Furthermore, it is a practical job accessible to a broad range of people, not just those with academic skills. The work you do depends on your ability to assess problems in front of you, not evaluate texts, or solve tricky math problems.

There are also numerous opportunities for career advancement. As you improve your skillset, you can specialize in different areas and potentially increase your earnings further – up to double the national average wage.

Some gas engineers work in companies and teams, but many are self-employed. Because of this, they’re free to choose their hours how they please, organizing their work around the week. Those who join firms, however, usually have more opportunities for career progression. After you have ten or more years of experience, you can progress to more senior management roles.

In general, there are relatively few careers that offer the same combination of pay and flexibility as gas engineers. Typically, they are a top choice for ambitious tradespeople who want to improve their skills and increase their income.

The gas engineer profession typically attracts the most conscientious people. Because the role is primarily about ensuring safety, it is ideal for those with a keen eye for detail and who enjoy completing tasks according to the correct process. It is not a role for “big picture” thinkers or people who like to cut corners.

Career Change Idea #5: Web Developer

Web Developer

With the shift to online business models in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, companies are crying out for people with web development skills. They need experienced, skilled workers who can help them create “digital storefronts,” attract internet traffic and convert users into customers.

Becoming a web developer is surprisingly easy. Like network administration and blockchain development, the industry is virtually unregulated. You don’t actually need any official qualifications to start, meaning that, theoretically, you can get going immediately. However, you will need to convince your clients (or employer) that you know your stuff.

To succeed as a web developer, you’ll need to learn some technical skills. It is helpful to have a comprehensive understanding of the basics: CSS, JavaScript, and HTML – three of the most commonly used codes. You may also need a working knowledge of Foundation, Backbone, and Bootstrap – tools that help you construct the backend for custom web development.

Writing code is an integral part of the job and something you’ll do every day. It helps, therefore, if you are fluent before you begin your role. Companies will expect you to churn out code quickly, according to what their clients order.

If you’re struggling to know where to start, there are plenty of online resources that can help you. For instance, web developer blogs can teach you about progressing in the industry and provide insights into the types of skills businesses want.

Becoming a web developer comes with a host of perks and benefits. Most work freelance from home, meaning that they have complete control over their schedules. Furthermore, there is excellent job security, especially in the current context in 2020. Firms are keen to move their operations to the internet and are looking for people who can help them construct compelling websites.

The work is also highly varied. Part of your role will be coding, but you will also be able to do things like UI management, website layout, and even SEO. Companies may call on you to perform all of these tasks and provide a comprehensive, one-stop-shop for all their website needs.

Finally, web developers have excellent career progression potential. As you master your craft, you learn more sophisticated techniques you can use to dazzle and surprise your clients. As the message gets out about your services, you attract more lucrative contracts and begin to see your income rise. 

So, do any of these career change ideas interest you?

Written By
Mark McShane is the Managing Director of Skills Training Group. They are an award-winning training group delivering courses for the electrical, plumbing, heating, and first aid sectors.

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