A guide to options for a new job where human connection counts

Posted by ACAP on 8 November 2017

Five to seven career changes in a lifetime is the new average for Australian workers who are willing to update their qualifications and switch careers.

The common reasons people re-skill for a fresh career are boredom, stress, redundancy, job insecurity and feeling unappreciated at work. A desire to make a difference in the community, and seeking a better work-life balance drive many people to take the leap from the familiar, to an occupation where they are paid to help change the lives of others.

The ‘caring economy’ is a sector of the Australian workforce attracting career-changers for its forecast of positive growth and the daily rewards to workers in this field, of supporting people in need.

Personal attributes count

Careers in social work, counselling and psychology each attract good listeners who are empathetic and enjoy solving problems. While the three disciplines are quite different and uniquely specialised, people working in this sector share the personal traits of critical thinking, good organisational and communication skills, high-level communication and boundary-setting.

Recognising these qualities in yourself is a great start to a new career in community health. Add the right qualifications to your desire for change, and you could soon be ready for a satisfying job that’s all about making productive human connections.

Studying for your fresh start

Professional qualifications in community and allied health span the specialisations of psychology, counselling and social work. Many related support roles also require the specialist skills of a degree.

Psychology careers

Psychologists and psychotherapists carry out diagnostic tests and work with data to assess clients’ behavioural and emotional disorders. A lot of their work is statistical, so expect mathematics to feature in your studies. Psychologists work in health care and social assistance, public administration and safety, training. Work environments may be clinical, educational or organisational and their roles often encompass counselling.

Many career paths in the business sector benefit from a foundation in psychology, such as sales management, staff training and market research. You’ll need a bachelor degree to get started, with postgraduate study required for clinical registration as a psychologist.

Counselling careers

Counsellors provide services relating to bereavement and loss, alcohol and other drugs (AOD) abuse, mental health, family and relationships, and general counselling. Counselling is experiencing strong growth in Australia, with people attracted to it for the daily human connection and flexible working conditions. Around 45 per cent of counsellors currently work part-time, according to the Australian Government’s Job Outlook website.

A bachelor degree or a one-year diploma course, as a pathway to higher study, will help you enter this field as a support worker, youth worker, telephone counsellor, welfare worker, and a generalist counsellor after additional training and experience.

Social Work careers

Social workers act as mediators for clients in need, helping people resolve problems and monitoring progress through ongoing case management. You’ll need a bachelor degree to get started as a social worker to work in health care, social assistance and public administration jobs when you qualify.

Prospects for Australian social workers are ‘very strong’, with the Australian government’s Job Outlook website noting part-time work makes up around 30 per cent of roles in the sector, suiting those seeking a work-life balance.

Are you ready to change careers? Browse our courses and their flexible study modes for social work, counselling and psychology qualifications here