Nearly Three-Fourths of U.S. Workers in Their 30s Want a Career Change, Reveals University of Phoenix Survey

Approximately 60 percent of all working adults want a new career, but nearly 40 percent of these adults are unsure what to pursue

PHOENIX--()--A majority of U.S. working adults want to change careers, but may be staying put because they are uncertain about what career they want to pursue. A recent University of Phoenix® School of Business national survey of working adults in the U.S. revealed that 59 percent of working adults, and almost three-fourths (73 percent) of professionals in their 30s are interested in changing careers. Compared to the University’s 2013 survey on the topic, the percentage of 30-somethings who desire career change has increased by nearly 10 percentage points (64 percent in 2013).

The same data indicates that professionals in their 20s are more content in their careers now than they were two years ago, with just 65 percent wanting to shift careers, down from 78 percent in 2013.

“Employees in their 30s are likely established in their careers, but may be finding they are not growing as quickly as they had hoped, or are not as satisfied as they imagined they would be in their profession,” said Ruth Veloria, executive dean for University of Phoenix School of Business. “A feeling of stagnation can prompt workers to think about their professional development and whether other careers might offer a clearer path to growth. At University of Phoenix we have students of all ages exploring new interests; some return to school to transition into a new profession, while others are looking to grow specific skills to advance in current careers.”

Despite professing the strongest interest in changing careers, 45 percent of 30-somethings desiring career change cited uncertainty about what career they would like to pursue. They noted this as the most significant barrier to making a change – the highest of any age group. The recent online survey of more than 1,000 working adults in the U.S. was conducted on behalf of University of Phoenix® School of Business by Harris Poll in March 2015.

Why do so many Americans want to change careers?

Half of those desiring a career change indicated they entered their current career because there were jobs available (50 percent), but only 38 percent actually cited an interest in the field. With overall earning potential likely the main motivation in seeking a career, 34 percent of those at least somewhat interested in a career change state they chose their current career because of the good salary.

The most common reason for career change is that working adults feel they are not making enough money in their current careers (44 percent). Working adults can also be discouraged by lack of opportunity or excitement in their current fields, with other issues cited, including burnout (29 percent) and a lack of upward mobility in their current field (27 percent). However, people making $75,000-100,000 a year and interested in changing careers are also the most likely to have lost interest or passion in their field (45 percent). They are also the most likely to feel burned out (40 percent).

“With professionals less likely to feel locked into a specific career path and the average person remaining in the workforce much longer, it’s not surprising that working adults are branching out and exploring many different professional opportunities,” said Veloria. “With technology evolving and changing the way we do business, and an ever-expanding job market, we anticipate that this trend will only grow stronger.”

I want a change, but….

Despite strong interest from working adults to change careers, an overwhelming 94 percent identify barriers that are preventing them from doing so. Nearly half of those who are interested in changing careers (43 percent) cite a lack of financial security and 39 percent have uncertainty about what other career to choose. Thirty-six percent feel they lack adequate education or experience, while 36 percent fear the unknown and 33 percent feel they are too old or too advanced in their current position.

When asked if they could work in their “dream job” regardless of the amount of education or training required, those not already in their dream job identified careers in the arts and sciences (22 percent), business and management (18 percent) and technology (17 percent) as fields they aspire to work in.

“Higher education and skills training are now becoming life-long endeavors, with professionals recognizing that regardless of the industry in which you work, ongoing development is critical to keep pace with technology and other advances,” added Veloria. “That’s why at University of Phoenix, we work with industry partners to identify relevant skills and professional development opportunities, as well as other market needs, to help today’s working adults navigate their careers in an ever-changing job market.”

Tips for Career Change Success

Changing a career at any age can be daunting. Dean Veloria offers the following tips for those who are looking for a new direction in their professional lives:

  1. You don’t need to completely start over. Research paths to your desired career and look for opportunities to translate skills from one industry to another. Certificate programs allow professionals to pursue education in multiple subject areas to cultivate a diverse knowledge base, and can also help individuals who have a strong foundation in one area, such as accounting, to more quickly address knowledge gaps in a specific industry, such as hospitality.
  2. You may already have a lot of the skills you need. Understand how your current skills/experience might translate to another industry. If you work in marketing, but are interested in health care, consider starting in a marketing position with a health care organization.
  3. Become more entrepreneurial in your current career. Establish a peer or senior leader mentor relationship with someone in your company or your field who you can learn from, and who can help you grow and find new opportunities to branch out in your current organization. Talk to as many people as possible doing what you may want to do, to better understand the opportunities, requirements and challenges.

For more information about University of Phoenix School of Business degree programs, visit

Survey Methodology

This year’s Working Adult survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix from March 10-12, 2015, among 1,044 U.S. adults age 18 or older who are full-time, part-time or self-employed. The 2013 survey was conducted from April 18-26, 2013 among 1,616 U.S. adults age 18 or older who were full-time, part-time or self-employed. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact

About University of Phoenix School of Business

University of Phoenix School of Business offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that prepare students to be creative problem solvers for the new economy. The School of Business also offers non-degree programs, including certificates, individual courses and non-credit professional development. Doctoral programs are available through the School for Advanced Studies. To learn more about University of Phoenix School of Business programs, visit

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL), University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S., as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit


University of Phoenix
Heather McLaughlin, 714-338-6429


University of Phoenix
Heather McLaughlin, 714-338-6429