See how the right education could help you switch fields in as little as two years.
Want to switch careers? Good news: You don't have to spend four plus years in schools to prepare.
In fact, with certificate and associate's degree programs - which typically takes as little as one to two years to complete - you could be on your way to pursuing new career opportunities sooner than you might think.
"I think getting a degree or certificate can be a great way to transition into a new career," says Abhijeet Khadilkar, CEO of the career assistance organization, Career Tiger.
To help you get started on your new career path, we've highlighted six exciting careers that you could potentially be prepared to pursue in two years or less.
Career Switch Option #1 - Bookkeeper
If you're a natural at math, or you just happen to enjoy numbers and spreadsheets, you might be well-suited for a career in bookkeeping.
Bookkeepers' responsibilities consist mainly of keeping financial records, including maintaining and updating accounts for businesses, organizations, or individuals, as well as calculating receipts, expenses, profits, and losses.
Quick Education: While there is no formal education requirement beyond a high school diploma or GED for most positions, the Department of Labor recommends obtaining an associate's degree in accounting or business, which could take about two years to complete.*
Average Earning Potential: $35,340*
Career Switch Option #2 - Medical Assistant
Are you intrigued by the medical field? If so, a career switch to the medical assisting field might be in order...
As a medical assistant, your duties could include updating patient records, arranging laboratory services, and filling out insurance forms, among other things.
Quick Education: Making the switch to a medical assistant career could be an especially smart choice for those looking to make a quick change. The Department of Labor notes that many medical assistants complete a one-year certificate or two-year associate's degree in medical assisting.
Average Earning Potential: $29,760
Career Switch Option #3 - Paralegal
Do you want to transition to the legal field? If so, we've got some stellar news: A paralegal career could be pursued with just a few months to a couple of years of education.
As a paralegal, your job responsibilities could include helping lawyers prepare for hearings, trials, closings, and corporate meetings.
Quick Education: Most paralegals have a two-year associate's degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree in another field and a certificate in paralegal studies, which could take as little as a few months to complete, according to the Department of Labor.
Average Earning Potential: $49,640
Career Switch Option #4 - Pharmacy Technician
Are you interested in working in health care? Consider pharmacy technology.
As a pharmacy technician, you'd help pharmacists provide customer services, prepare prescription medications, and perform administrative duties.
Quick Education: Although pharmacy technicians don't have standard education requirements, employers favor applicants with education and certification, according to the Department of Labor. Look into earning a one-year pharmacy technician certificate or two-year associate's degree.
Average Earning Potential: $29,330
Career Switch Option #5 - Dental Assistant
If you're the kind of person who brushes their teeth after every meal, or carries floss with them at all times, a career as a dental assistant could be your calling.
As a dental assistant, your daily tasks might include sterilizing instruments or equipment, updating patient dental records, and assisting the dentist in other ways.
Quick Education: If you're hoping to reinvent your career quickly, this might be the option for you as a one-year certification program in dental assisting could prepare you for this field, according to the Department of Labor.
Average Earning Potential: $34,140
Career Switch Option #6 - Computer Support Specialist
Do you want to make a career switch to satisfy your love for computers and technology? Consider preparing to pursue computer support specialist positions.
As a computer support specialist, you might run diagnostic programs to resolve computer issues, create instruction manuals, or help users navigate new computer hardware and software.
Quick Education: This hands-on tech career is a great option for career changers as a certificate or associate's degree in IT and information systems, or a related field, may be sufficient to pursue this career, according to the Department of Labor.
Average Earning Potential: $49,930
*All program completion times are averages and will vary by school, program, student's level of commitment, and other factors. All average salary information is taken from the U.S. Department of Labor and represents May 2010 statistics.