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How Much Will a Career Change Cost You?

How Much Will a Career Change Cost You?

Dona DeZube / Monster Finance Careers Expert

A new job in a completely different career field may fill your soul with joy, but it can also empty your wallet. Estimating the cost to shift into a new field can make the difference between a smooth fiscal transition and a personal budget crisis, so before you make a move, consider and plan for these costs:

Earning a Degree

Do you need a degree to launch your new career? Add up the cost of tuition, books and fees. If you’re quitting your current job to go back to school, include the cost of daily living expenses, plus the monthly income you won’t be earning multiplied by the number of months you’ll be in school.

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Unused Vacation or Sick Time

Every time you move to a new job, you likely leave behind a little unused sick time and possibly some vacation time. Multiply your daily salary times the days you’re not using to see what that’s worth.

Trade Association Membership

Networking is critical when you switch to a new field, so include the membership fee for joining a society in the new field. If you’re headed back to school, ask if there’s a student membership rate.

A New Credential

Credentials give job seekers a boost. Include the cost of earning one — such as testing fees, classes, required meeting attendance — in your career-change budget.

Job-Hunting Expenses

They’re tax-deductible, but — read the fine print — only when you’re seeking work in your same profession. Switch to a new career, and the cost of resumes, postage, phone calls and getting to interviews is no longer deductible. Ouch!


If your current employer provides health insurance, calculate the cost of continuing that coverage through COBRA until you’ve landed a new job with benefits. What other benefits are you giving up? Stock options? Flexible-spending accounts? Subsidized day care? Will you lose any retirement contributions or pension eligibility? Be sure you include the value of those lost or reduced benefits in your cost calculation.

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