Should You Quit Your Job or Change Careers?

Figuring out the right answer is key to happiness and job satisfaction.

portrait of Evan Thompson
by Evan Thompson

Published March 24, 2022

Edited by Giselle M. Cancio
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Should You Quit Your Job or Change Careers?


"Should I change jobs or career?" is a common dilemma for many professionals. You may be wondering the same thing yourself but don't know how to answer it.

It's important to figure out which of those is best for you — a job change or career change — since research has found a link between happiness and job satisfaction.

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Ready to start your journey?

Sometimes, the answer is easy. If you have a toxic manager, it's time to move on to a different job. Or, if you don't enjoy being in your industry anymore, it's time for a new career.

Other times, knowing when to "fish or cut bait" in your job or career can be tricky. If you're struggling to figure that out, we've put together a guide to help.

This guide focuses on three important things:

  1. Getting to the root of your dissatisfaction
  2. Defining the difference between a job change and a career change
  3. Asking the big questions to figure out what to do next

Job Change vs. Career Change

What is the difference between a job change and a career change? Generally, a job change is a pivot to a different role. In contrast, a career change is a transition to a different profession.

A job change will also land you in a similar role, but usually doesn't require additional training, often making the transition easier. But a career change typically requires more education and training to be qualified for a new position in a different industry.

Job Change

  • Similar role
  • Different employer
  • Easier transition

Career Change

  • New profession
  • Different industry
  • More involved

What's Making You Dissatisfied?

How do you figure out if you need a job change or a career change? One way is to identify the source of your dissatisfaction.

Consider the following scenarios and solutions. See which ones most closely apply to your situation.

Scenario Solution
You're frustrated because of office politics, team members, or toxic company culture. Job change
You feel stuck, things aren’t exciting, and rarely something gets your attention. Career change
Your personality or preferences clash with your team or company's leadership style. Job change
A different role in the same organization sounds interesting. Career change
You feel unhappy, bored, or unfulfilled with your current team. Job change
Financial security is your last remaining motivating factor. Career change
You love what you do, but something feels missing at your current organization. Job change
You're frustrated with a lack of things to do and learn. Career change
You're ready for more responsibilities but feel there are no opportunities for growth in your current role. Job change
You don't love what you do anymore. Career change

The Big Questions

Asking the big questions about your career and professional goals is another way to figure out your next step. Consider the following questions and advice from career coaches and a career changer.

1. "Do I love what I do?"

Advice from a career changer: "If you love what you do, but don't enjoy your work environment, your manager/boss or co-workers, but would be happy at another company doing the same thing...then stay in the career. You’re on the right path.

"If you aren’t happy doing what you’re doing and wouldn’t be happy at another company, you are dreading going to work, then it’s time to consider a career change. Then you have to ask yourself, “What do you love to do? Where do you want to be?"

Nicole Miller, who switched from wedding dress designer to become a real estate agent


2. "What do I need to feel fulfilled at work?"

Advice from a career coach: "What are the factors that need to be different in order for you to feel fulfilled at work? How do you prioritize those factors? For example, you need a boss that respects your work, a bigger paycheck, and more flexibility. If that's the case, and higher-paying roles exist in your industry and function, a job change instead of a career change could be the right move.

"However, if your top three are: 1) taking on more challenging problems, 2) working towards a mission you feel invested in, and 3) 100% work-from-home (when your current job requires 100% in-person), then the answer might be a career change. Map your top three to options

within your existing path and see if they fit, or don't."

Becca Carnahan, career coach


3. "What are my long-term goals?

Advice from a career coach: "It's probably time to switch careers when you're not excited about your long-term career plans. If you look at where you'll be in five, 10, or even 15-20 years if you continue in the career that you are in and you know that that's not where you want to be professionally, then it's time to start thinking about a career that you would be better suited for.

"You also need to consider whether your career suits your lifestyle goals. If you want flexibility or remote work, but you currently have an in-person role (think manufacturing or nursing), then you need to consider a career change to meet your personal goals."

Colleen Paulson, career coach


Feature Image: kate_sept2004 / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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