Megan Vaites worked in product information and design roles at the same company for 20 years. But a desire lingered to follow in her mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps and go into nursing.

She considered changing careers. But with a steady job and children at home, going back to school always seemed unimaginable, she says.

“Two years ago, I was on the phone with my grandmother and she said, ‘Megan, you’re a good mom, but those kids are going to go, and then you’ll need something you feel fulfilled at,’’” says Vaites, a Pittsburgh-area resident. “I started taking classes at a local community college not long after that.”

You may have identified your next career, but giving up the security of the current one will take energy, money and time. Before you quit your current gig, take these five expert-recommended steps to be sure you’re making the right decision.

1. IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM

Evaluate your current work life and why you want to switch careers.

“They might dislike their boss or that particular work environment, but a lot of times it’s not really the career specifically they need to change—it’s the dynamic in their current workplace,” says Juliet Murphy, chief executive officer of Juliet Career Development in Tustin, Calif.

Or it may indeed be the career itself. Emily Shortell of Long Beach, New York, determined her problem was her design career after finding the same unhappiness while working in multiple environments, including a handbag company, a marketing company and a guitar string manufacturer. Now, she’s pursuing a career in the veterinary field.

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