How to Design Curriculum for Successful Career Change

Curriculum for career change

Scrolling my mobile phone screen at 3 AM and looking at the ceiling fan every 5 minutes. My eyes were stinging and a quick stare at the fan felt like a cold compress. 

I switched between 8 tabs to find the best data science curriculum, but nothing made sense. I was already familiar with most beginner-level course material, and advanced boot camp projects weren’t freely available. Anyhow, I had to design a curriculum for myself because I couldn’t afford the paid courses. 

Creating a curriculum is one of the most time-consuming tasks in a career change, but if done right, it makes the rest of the journey much easier. 

A structured curriculum serves as a roadmap, guiding procedural learning of skills for a new career. 

I had multiple trials and errors before I created the perfect curriculum, but you won’t have to experiment. This guide will teach you to build a curriculum no matter what your desired career is.

Importance of Curriculum design for career change

Without a curriculum, you can find yourself jumping between random topics you thought were important for your desired career. A well-structured curriculum provides a clear path, so you don’t waste extra hours figuring out what to learn next. A clear path also reduces career change anxiety and makes the process more manageable.

Career change requires a clear idea of your desired career path. And just a slight deviation from that idea requires different curriculums. For example, if you love bringing attractive web designs to life through coding but follow a curriculum designed for UI designers, you’ll have to take quite a few step-backs before you make the right move.

Additionally, all boot camps, courses, and professional certificates follow a curriculum and each of them has pros and cons. However, a self-designed curriculum tailored to your specific needs is flexible enough to adapt to changing career needs and also tracks your performance.

So the benefits of a customized curriculum are:

    • A clear roadmap

    • Time efficient learning

    • Tailored to customized needs

    • Flexibility and adaptability

    • A source of motivation and performance tracking

How to design a curriculum for career change?

Let’s cut to the chase and learn to create your curriculum for your new career path. The following steps apply to any career change. However, feel free to add extra steps you think are necessary for your career shift. 

For example, if you’re looking to become an open-air yoga instructor, you’ll need to plan your sessions, go out and interact with people, teaching them what you know. This will be an additional exercise in your curriculum, complementing the following curriculum design process:

1. Assess your motivation

This is the most important step. If you don’t know your motivation, you can’t create an effective curriculum. 

There are two keys to assessing your motivation:

1. Ask yourself why you need a career change

Knowing your why will help you identify the practical aspects of your curriculum. For example, if you want to be a remote worker, you’ll need to practice collaboration skills and own a reliable internet connection. On the other hand, if you want to move to a new location, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with its job market. 

So to know why you need a career change, ask yourself the following four questions:

    1. What is it that I don’t like about my current work routine?

    2. What tangible or intangible things can improve my current work routine?

    3. What is my dream career? 

    4. What does the best work day look like for me?

2. What do you want to achieve with the curriculum?

With your motivation written on a notepad, identify what you want to achieve with your career change curriculum. Knowing this will help you shortlist the learning material so you don’t have to search for it in every study session.

Things you’d want to achieve with a curriculum can be theoretical knowledge, practical knowledge, and enough knowledge to run a side hustle or keep yourself busy. 

For example, a person looking to land a 9-5 in a front-end development role might just need entry-level skills to refine their concepts while on the job. Whereas, someone looking to launch a freelance front-end development business will need to learn enough skills to not only deliver satisfactory projects to clients but also manage projects single-handedly.

You’ll craft the curriculum based on this, so prepare a clear answer to the following questions:

    1. Do I want to land a full-time job in a new career?

    2. Do I want to run a side hustle or launch a freelance career?

    3. Am I just looking to try new areas of study without a goal?

2. Assess your skill level

On to technical stuff! 

This step decides the depth and width of your curriculum. Identifying your skills gap involves determining the extent of your existing knowledge in the desired skill. 

Maybe you already have some experience in your desired career or took a relevant course in college. Maybe pursuing a career in a new domain was your childhood dream but you know nothing about it. Whatever the case, have a clear idea of where you stand in your new career so you can design your curriculum accordingly. 

Online tests will help you assess your skill level like the Cambridge Write and Improve test for writing, HackerRank for programming, and Test Dome for accounting and finance tests. 

Another way to assess your skill level is to take a beginner-level course and see if you already know the stuff taught there. This may feel stupid but beginner-level courses are mostly free and short in length. So if you haven’t already done this, you can at least try attempting quizzes and course exams to assess your knowledge.

3. Search the Internet for existing curriculums

Now that you’ve got the basics covered, you’re ready to list down the learning material in your curriculum. You can pick either of the following ways to do this or even do a combination of all:

1. Search for the relevant boot camps and workshops

Search the internet for existing curriculums using “keyword + curriculum” or “keyword + bootcamp”. This will give you a list of top courses in your desired new career. Scan through the curriculum of the top 3-4 courses and list down the things they’ve from basics to advanced.

Now cut down anything you feel is unnecessary like the foundations, if you’ve got a good understanding of them. 

Lastly, highlight the topic areas that you want to specialize in. For example, if you’re creating a digital marketing curriculum and wish to specialize in Search Engine Marketing (SEM), highlight it so you can come back to it and learn advanced SEM stuff. 

Digital marketing curriculum example

2. Observe others’ journey

People usually post their self-learning and career transition journeys on Twitter or LinkedIn. If you follow similar personalities or relevant hashtags on any of these platforms, you’ll get an insight into what curriculum others follow. 

You can also find professionals posting free learning resources so you can add them to your learning material too. Sometimes people also categorize resources into beginner, intermediate, and advanced categories, which will also be useful when planning your curriculum.

3. Ask your friends

If you’ve friends who already have your dream job, ask them to help you plan your curriculum. They can give you expert tips on when to learn what depending on your goals and skill level. 

You can even reach out to strangers on LinkedIn to help you shortlist quality learning material for a successful career change.

You might hesitate to reach out to others, but please know that it’s okay. I had multiple people asking me about web development curriculum on LinkedIn and I never had a bad thought about them. I enjoyed helping them and others will enjoy helping you too.

4. Consider your learning preference

Identify your learning preferences once you’ve written down your curriculum in the last step. Knowing your preferences will help you design an interesting curriculum and make your learning joyful. 

The three things you need to know about your learning preference are:

    1. The format you enjoy learning from i.e., video, text, in-person etc.

    2. The time you better understand new concepts i.e., morning, noon, evening etc.

    3. Whether you prefer learning alone or in a group setting. 

5. Allocate time to each section

Based on your skill level and goals, allocate the time to each section in your curriculum. Don’t keep it too short or long to keep yourself accountable and sane. However, take the time you assign seriously and try to complete each section in the specified time. 

6. Fill out your curriculum with learning material

The real work now. 

Fill out your curriculum with the learning material. 

The choice of learning material depends upon your learning preferences and budget. Nevertheless, you can learn new skills for free. I’ve done that not once, not twice, but thrice, and you too can. 

Platforms like Coursera, FutureLearn, and OpenClassrooms offer free high-quality courses. Whatever platform you choose, write the name of the course under the relevant section in your curriculum so you keep track of it. 

Suppose I want to learn front-end development for free. I scanned through an online front-end boot camp and found “Recursive rendering” missing from most of the free React courses. 

Career change curriculum

I can search for “recursive rendering in react” on YouTube and, voila! I’ve got a list of tutorials on the topic. I can do the same on Google to find text-based tutorials, blogs, and other resources on recursive rendering.

Career change curriculum

Don’t forget to add the link to the course, if you’re using an online tool like Google Docs or MS Word.

Also, don’t forget to add projects in each section. Projects are the only way to practice new skills and showcase your credibility. Ask professionals or your network for project ideas on LinkedIn or Twitter, or search on the internet. You can also try volunteering or freelancing to build stronger skills. A few tips to build successful projects are:

    • Give yourself enough time to complete each project.

    • Push yourself to build the project instead of copy-pasting it.

    • Keep your expectations and time constraints realistic.

    • Ask others to explain the technical details if needed.

    • Understand project requirements before you start building.

    • Take notes of your learning at the end of each project.

Wrapping up

There’s no such thing as the best curriculum for a career change. Your goals, motivations, and lifestyle define the most suitable curriculum for you. And the steps we discussed in this blog post will help you do that.

Telling others about your progress also keeps you motivated, so start networking for a quicker change. Optimize your LinkedIn profile and showcase your new skills to build a professional network and attract employers.

Also, I’d love to know your career design strategy. So what worked for your curriculum design?

2 thoughts on “How to Design Curriculum for Successful Career Change”

  1. Wow! I never thought about making my curriculum and just followed random youtube videos. This blog post changed my approach to career change. Thank you tooba.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Don`t copy text!
Scroll to Top