Should You Leave Your Job to Retrain?

Should You Leave Your Job to Retrain?

The Dilemma of Should You Leave Your Job to Retrain


should you leave your job to retrain

If you’ve made that decision that you do want to retrain for a new career, the next issue is should you leave your job to retrain? Retraining could mean anything from an Undergraduate course, to a Masters, to a professional qualification such as those in banking or IT. 


While not essential for every job, there are many professions that involve retraining. My childhood memories include my dad retraining to be an accountant. He used to disappear each evening to study for his accountancy exams, not all of which he passed first time I remember! It was a long and laborious labour for him. You may think that it would have scarred me for life, not seeing my Dad much when I was younger. On the contrary, it has enforced the belief that you can do anything if you work hard enough and are committed. 

Retraining or going back into education in general has its own fierce challenges. These include:

  • The sheer discomfort of doing something new and possibly even starting over alongside others who may be younger than you
  • Tests, exams, essays and projects coming back into your life
  • Your family not understanding why you are doing this
  • Seeing less of your family and friends
  • Money issues
  • Increased stress
  • Fear of failure

There are many good reasons why you might want to give in your notice and dedicate all your working hours to retraining. Having this dedicated time means that:

  • You can really focus without distractions
  • You may be able to accelerate the process and get qualified sooner. Meaning you can move forward in your new career sooner
  • Work will be one less thing you don’t have to juggle
  • Your kids will have a great role model, just like my Dad was for me

At the same time, working and studying is safe. You don’t have to give anything up. Money will still be coming in and you will still have the familiarity of your workplace. What is certain, however, is that you will be juggling more work and be more stressed. It’s a hard decision. This is the option I made when I went back to University to do my Masters in Business Psychology, alongside running my business. 

It’s my opinion that before you go give up your job to retrain, there ideally needs to be four things in place. Here they are…


From a practical point of view, the most important piece of the puzzle is to be able to afford to retrain. This could mean one or a combination of the following:

  • Having the money in the bank to pay for the retraining, carry on paying the bills whilst you are training, plus a buffer while you look for a new position
  • Borrowing the money
  • Being supported by a partner while you retrain
  • A loan to retrain, such as those offered by Student Finance.

It’s better to over-estimate how much you need than to panic half way through. If you don’t have this in place, it’s wiser to consider juggling your job and training at the same time, if this is possible.


studyingHaving this in place is invaluable as there will be times when you can doubt yourself, when you will need that extra reassurance or boost that you are doing the right thing. Support can be from your partner, your friends, your family, even your kids or an online community.  It’s worth while asking yourself what you will need in terms of support:

  • Help with looking after the kids
  • Mentoring you in a specific subject
  • Financial support
  • A cheerleader
  • Someone to confirm you are doing the right thing
  • A role model
  • A career coach, like me


Knowing that you are on the right path goes a long way to keeping you going when times get hard. If you can see the big picture and know that this time of retraining or re-education is one step closer to your end goal, you will stay more motivated. 


Doing this for the right reason is essential. Don’t be wary of having money as a passion, either. People can be scathing about money as as motivator but money isn’t just money. Money is security in your old age. It’s your kids going to a decent school, a home with a garden, holidays in the South of France or being to help a favourite charity. 

Whatever is motivating you, it’s important to know what that is and why. This way, when you do get those dark moments, you can remind yourself that you are doing this to fulfil a lifelong dream, land a job that involves travelling or make your living online. Know your “why”.

If you don’t have these, should you leave your job to retrain?

You may have no choice. Sometimes you have to take that time out, but, more often than not, it is possible to combine our work with a part time degree, evening or online course. You could even gather all your holiday up and take it in on go to get qualified in some instances.  I was running a business when I decided to retrain. I cut down my hours, but still continued to bring in the work I needed to pay the bills.

For those of you with no choice then I would still urge you to have clarity on the above. If you are dithering over what to do, ideally, having all of these in place will help you through this time. If one or more of these is missing, I would suggest look that first. Find that practical support, get clear on your why etc. Once those are in place you’ll be in a strong place to move forward. 

Consider some career coaching with me if you’d like support at this time, or would like to create a strategy to get you qualified and working in your chosen profession.



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