An often repeated but perhaps hard to substantiate statistic states that the average person will switch careers seven times in their lifetime. If we presume a 40 year working life, that means a change every five to six years.
Much of the debate over this statistic stems from the definition of a career change or, rather, the lack there of. Is it a career change when you move horizontally yet stay in the same field and the same basic position? Is it a career change when you move up the ladder at the same employer?
And is a change that occurs so subtly that it is a natural progression — an evolution that occurs gradually until one is somewhere very far from where they started — really a change by definition.
I have had three payroll jobs and two separate self-employment jobs and I only feel like I’m on my second career despite the transitions. Why? The litany goes thusly:
Job 1: Convenience store (buying time doesn’t really count)
Job 2: Book business impresario (1st real job, and it was boss…still do it sometimes in my spare time)
Job 3: USPS Postmaster Replacement (don’t know that I ever considered this a career, but when I saw there was no potential for growth I split)
Job 4: Freelance writer (I wrote about business topics, particularly small business. This was a natural progression based on my background in small business. See Job 1. This actually has occurred simultaneously with Job 1 and 4 will likely never end.)
Job 5: Reporter at a great metropolitan newspaper (the last part is a joke. But this is an evolution from Job 4.)
I consider those five jobs two careers: a small business owner and a writer, and I would not have gotten into the second one had I not done the former one. They were a natural evolution.