Transferable skills for a meaningful career change

A career change can be a great way to shake things up, find inspiration and discover a new road to meaningful work.

Changing careers is a pretty natural step for many people. Where in former generations you might have picked a career and stuck with it, these days the pathways to employment have become less linear. As a result, it’s expected that most of us will change careers several times in our lives.

Changing from one career to another might seem a little daunting, but if you’re considering switching to aged care or early childhood education and care, you might be surprised by how many skills are transferrable.

Career change

Transitioning into a new career

Transferring from your current career into aged care or early childhood education and care might seem complicated, but the good news is you might already have some important skills which will enable you to make the switch.

We call these skills ‘transferrable’ or ‘adaptive skills’. Sometimes they are also called ‘interpersonal’ or ‘soft skills’, which basically means that they are human qualities – like communication and empathy – which make working with other humans a positive experience.

Many of our learners started out working in other industries. You may never have considered the fact that many people-facing industries – like hospitality, hairdressing, sales, administration and retail – have a lot in common with aged care and early childhood education and care, where communication and interpersonal skills are essential.

If you’re thinking about a career change, it’s good to know that some of the  skills you already possess might be relevant or useful in your new career.

What are ‘transferrable skills’ and why are they important?

No matter where you work, having transferrable skills – also known in training as ‘adaptive skills’ – is a wonderful attribute. It means that you’ll be able to adapt to the change and flow of the workplace, respond to challenges and thrive at every stage of your career.

It’s worth considering what it means to be adaptable. Adaptability is a willingness to change or adjust in response to varying conditions. Following on from this, having adaptive skills means being able to adjust to different conditions and workplace challenges in positive ways.

Transferrable skills are highly important in both aged care and early childhood education and care. Working in these sectors means working alongside society’s oldest and youngest groups, some of whom will have different ways of thinking and communicating. Others will need assistance doing things we take for granted like eating, going to the bathroom, getting dressed and participating in activities. Having adaptive skills means taking a flexible approach to these challenges and finding ways to communicate which are gentler, positive and more understanding.

Adaptive skills make a difference to your clients’ lives as well as making your work easier and more enjoyable.

Transferable skills that make a difference in aged care

There are many adaptive skills you can take with you from your old career into aged care. Having interest and respect for elderly people is a good place to start, but there are several more specific skills which will enable you to thrive in this highly rewarding sector. Some of these skills are:

  • Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
  • Compassion means having understanding and genuine care for others.
  • Patience is the ability to take a step back and give yourself and others the time they need.
  • Respect should be the foundation of aged care: respect for the process of ageing and the dignity of human life.
  • Understanding diversity means acknowledging that different people have diverse backgrounds, language, sexual orientation, experiences and needs, and is an essential part of being a good carer.
  • Problem solving is an essential skill to have, as there will be times when aged care requires you to ‘think on your toes’.

Transferable skills valued in early childhood education and care

If you’ve worked in people-facing roles, chances are you’ve already had to learn and implement some of the skills which help you care for and relate to young children. While early childhood education and care is quite different to working in other sectors, there is a lot of crossover in terms of the skills you might be using.

Some of these skills include:

  • Teamwork means being able to work with other educators, parents and children to find solutions and strategies.
  • Emotional intelligence is the ability to regulate your emotions and understand the emotions of the kids in your care.
  • Clear communication and strategies for negotiating tension is a must in early learning.
  • Being organised is helpful and means that you will be able to manage time efficiently in a busy early learning centre.
  • Critical reflection is an important aspect of your professional practice and will enable you to develop and grow.

Be rewarded when you change careers

Everyone has different reasons for wanting to change careers. If you are tired, searching for meaning or want to experience something new, pursuing a career in aged care or early learning might be just the right thing.

Post-pandemic the aged care and early childhood education sectors are experiencing pivotal shifts and positive change. It’s a new era for both industries, and new workers are needed to meet skills shortages and provide essential support. It’s a fantastic time to enter these growing sectors, where some of the benefits include:

Limitless job opportunities and employment prospects

The upside of the current skills shortage is that the number of jobs available is almost limitless, meaning that you will have more flexibility and a greater say in where you work and for whom. You can also rest assured that your job is safe and that you will have a consistent source of income for the foreseeable future.

Opportunities to upskill and progress your career

Ongoing training is important in both sectors, and once you’re working you’ll find many opportunities to develop your current skills and gain new ones. This might look like upskilling with a short course or group training. There will also be opportunities to progress your career, such as pathways to gaining a leadership qualification.


One of the best things about working with children and the elderly is the variety you see on the job. There will be conversations you never thought of having, people you didn’t expect to meet, challenges you thought you couldn’t overcome and unexpected pleasures and rewards.


For some people, having flexibility in your job is essential. The good thing about both aged care and early learning is that you will be able to organise your work hours to fit in with scheduling and other personal commitments.  Many people note that the hours in both aged care and early childhood education and care suit them in terms of balancing work and life.

The chance to make a difference

Sometimes the decision to change careers is prompted by the feeling that you’ve lost your purpose or want to do something meaningful. If making a difference in people’s lives is something you care about, there is no better opportunity than working in aged care or early childhood education. Entering these fulfilling sectors means discovering a sense of purpose, improving people’s lives and feeling good about what you do.

We can help you to make the change. Get in touch with the team at Selmar today!


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