Survey: Higher purpose (not profit) motivates some career changes

The desire to help others is causing working adults to assess their personal and professional goals and, more specifically, their career potential, according to a nationwide online survey of more than 6,000 working adults by University of Phoenix. Nearly one quarter (23 percent) of the people surveyed are dissatisfied with their current careers and are considering a career switch. In fact, this group is most interested in pursuing “helping careers,” such as education (13 percent), healthcare/medical (9 percent) and non-profit (8 percent).

Further support for this trend is that 61 percent of those currently considering a career change cite “the opportunity to do something more fulfilling” as the main reason.

“We’re seeing a real shift in working adults who are re-careering into fields that offer greater job fulfillment,” said Tim Rees, campus director for University of Phoenix Seattle. “This often means going back to school to earn post-secondary degrees and networking with others who can help them pursue their career aspirations.”

In fact, nearly three quarters (71 percent) of adults who are currently considering a career change believe that education will play a role in their career paths. And, an overwhelming 84 percent agree that education is important in achieving their professional goals.

“Certainly, working adults are redefining the higher education landscape,” added Rees. “These non-traditional students are returning to the classroom not only to acquire knowledge, but to seek the practical skills and contacts they need to either get ahead or pursue new career avenues.”

The University of Phoenix survey uncovered other findings that suggest Americans are non-complacent when it comes to their career goals.

Data for this online survey was fielded by University of Phoenix and Zoomerang among 6,045 adults (age 25 and older) from July 15-21, 2004. The results have a margin of error of +/- 1.26 percent.

University of Phoenix, which has served working adults for more than a quarter of a century, has made its mission to remove barriers to education for busy adults by providing accessible scheduling (evenings, week ends, and online through the Internet) and rigorous degree programs centered on professional goals.

The University is the largest private accredited university in North America with 227,760 students as of Aug. 31, 2004.


1. Climbing the Corporate Ladder

*Nearly one third (32 percent) of respondents cite that career advancement is very important, while another 41 percent say it is somewhat important.

*Nearly half (47 percent) of working adults surveyed have been promoted three or more times in their current careers. Another 19 percent have been promoted twice, 16 percent have been promoted once, and 18 percent have never been promoted.

*When asked which factors will help most in advancing their careers, continuing education and mentoring were noted as equally important, with 30 percent of respondents citing each. On-the-job training came in third with 18 percent.

*According to working adults, their employers help with career advancement in various ways. More than half (63 percent) provide professional development programs and on-the-job training (55 percent), while nearly half (49 percent) offer tuition reimbursement for those employees seeking degrees.

2. Career Loyalists?

*Nearly half (46 percent) of survey respondents have been in their current careers for more than 10 years, with another 23 percent in the 5- to 10-year range.

*More than three quarters (77 percent) of working adults surveyed are satisfied with their current careers, while the remaining 23 percent are dissatisfied.

*Nearly six out of ten respondents (58 percent) have changed careers in the past. Of those who have changed careers, the majority (60 percent) have switched at least two times.

3. To Switch or Not To Switch?

*Of working adults surveyed 23 percent – the same percentage as those dissatisfied with their current careers – are looking to make a career switch. Almost two-thirds (61 percent) are not currently considering a career change, while 16 percent are not sure.

*Among those currently considering a career change, 61 percent cited “the opportunity to do something more fulfilling” as the main reason. Similarly, 48 percent are looking for “the opportunity to do something different.” Another 42 percent are considering a new career to earn better pay.

*Survey respondents who indicated they are considering a career change are most interested in pursuing careers in education (13 percent), healthcare/medical (9 percent), computer hardware/software/Internet (9 percent), business/ professional services (8 percent) and non-profit (8 percent) industries.

*According to 66 percent of respondents, financial issues have kept them from considering a career change. “Not enough time” and “not knowing where to start” were each cited by 36 percent of working adults surveyed, and another 30 percent say family issues have kept them from considering a career change.

Source: University of Phoenix and Zoomerang