A soon-to-be empty nester wants help finding her second career

As part of Education Lab IQ, Janet Carson, whose youngest child will be in college next year, asked where she could get help finding resources to help her starting a second career.

(Editor’s note: As part of the back-to-school season, Education Lab asked readers what was on their minds this time of year. This is the fifth response we’ve answered — find the others at seattletimes.com/education-lab.)


As part of our Education Lab IQ series, Janet Carson asked where she could find resources to help her find a second career.

“My last child is a high school senior this fall,” she wrote, “and I’m going to need to transition from at-home-mom to working again.”

Education Lab is a Seattle Times project that spotlights promising approaches to persistent challenges in public education. It is produced in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network and is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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She said she had no idea what she wanted to do, “but I know whatever training I do needs to be relatively quick and practical so I can be working (and helping pay my kids’ tuition bills and saving more for retirement) within a year or so.”

The good news for Carson is that there’s a state agency devoted to helping people answer this question — the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board.

A good first step is to use its free quiz to help you figure out your interests and skills, then match them to groups of careers. The site also shows how much various careers pay and the level of demand among employers, said Marina Parr, spokeswoman for the training board.

It’s worth getting an understanding of the labor market in your area. You can find interesting data about what’s hot, and what’s not, on the state Employment Security Department’s website. Its employer demand reports will tell you what types of occupations employers are looking to fill. They’re reported by county, so you can drill down to your area of the state and find out what’s in greatest demand.

If you need extra training or educational skills, the website for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges offers a search of all the programs it offers.

Most programs have rolling admissions, and the offerings include short-term certificates (which can be earned in less than a year), long-term certificates, and associate degrees that can be…

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