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Improving Your Qualifications on a Career Break

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 5 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
Improving Qualifications Exams Career

Career breaks are all about freedom, giving people time off from their humdrum workaday existence to spread their wings and try something new. For many, this means volunteering in Africa, yachting around the world or basking on a beach in the Bahamas.

But for some, it means improving their qualifications, to enable them to return back to a better - or an entirely different - job.

Get Some Further Education

If you've never finished your degree or want to get some qualifications in a specific field, this could be your chance. Look online to see what's on offer locally, or try somewhere new.

Many people use a career break as a way to learn a new language abroad, while others enrol in courses first, then immerse themselves in a new culture after they are armed with the basics.

Retrain For a Different Career

If you want to further your position in the company - or try something completely different - then you may choose to retrain. It's not uncommon for people who have worked in one field for years to suddenly decide to retrain as a teacher, doctor, plumber or electrician. But before you shell out excess money for a course, consider shadowing someone for a week to see if their job would really suit you. If so, go for it!

Try Adventure Sports

Everyone needs to earn money, but few people truly believe they can have fun while they're at it. A career break can be the perfect time to train as a ski instructor, or specialist in snowboarding, deep-sea fishing or diving. Even if you do return to your day job, you'll know that you'll always be able to get work worldwide with the specialist qualifications you have earned. A scuba internship may require hard work and exams, but it's well worth the effort.

Turn a Hobby Into a Career

Many of us fancy doing something different, and indulging our hobbies is one way to do it. A career break can give you the opportunity to discover if there really is a budding Jamie Oliver inside you, or perhaps even a hidden Vincent van Gogh.

Utilise the time to take a culinary course, practice your painting in Venice or see if you can make a career out of landscape gardening or flower-arranging. Many people end up changing careers - and never look back. Others try something new only to realise they were happy doing what they were doing in the first place!

Take Time Out to Volunteer

Official qualifications are not the only ones worth getting. Few people realise that employers value "soft skills" as well, such as the ability to lead a team, work in a group, and interact with a wide variety of diverse people. Volunteering at home or abroad is one way of amassing skills such as these, which can be of great value when you apply for a job. Volunteering will not only look great on your CV, but it's also a fantastic way to give something back to the community you visit while on your break.

If you ever wondered whether a career break will hinder your career in the long run, don't. Improving your qualifications while on a career break is a great way to improve your career prospects when you get back. If anything, it will make you even more employable, and if you return to the same job, your employer will value you more.

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