As the saying goes: nothing ventured, nothing gained. Christy was in a cult that discouraged higher education. She erred on the side of faith and pursued it anyway. Elliott had an office job and an MBA. He quit and went on to become a crane operator anyway. Jo was 55 and approaching retirement as a decorated police officer and former Marine Corps. Can you guess what he did next? He went back to school to pursue his passion anyway.
Prior to these pivots, Christy, Elliott, and Jo were at different points in their careers. Yet they recognized the same writing on the wall. It was no longer enough to be in careers that pay the bills.
Their stories are familiar ones. Maybe not the cult, or holding two degrees, or carrying a badge and a gun for 28 years. But for most people in the workforce, “uncertainty” has been a running theme. Am I on the right track? Am I getting what I deserve? And, of course, the never-ending dilemma: passion or paycheck?
Most have resolved to treat these questions as passing thoughts, convinced that risking a switch is costlier than the reward—if it even pays off. Few, like Christy, Elliott, and Jo, have made the leap although with some hesitations. And if you find yourself contemplating a career switch, chances are the same doubt hangs over your head: “Can I afford to do one?”
Sounds Like a Plan, But…
This was what the Harvard Business Review addressed in its 2018 article titled “Can You Afford to Change Your Career?” It read: “We worry and wonder: What would a career change do to our bank accounts? To our way of life? To our family? We assume that a major reinvention would involve a gap between paychecks when we’d leave our job and break into a new field.”
The concern is warranted. After all, there’s more to switching careers than identifying points A and B. It’s not enough to know why you want to leave and where you want to go next. Answering the ‘how’ is just as important.
To demonstrate, Christy La Gaurdia’s career transition was premised on the desire to leave a life narrated by others. “My family and religious community [were] really opposed to higher education. Eventually, I left that world. I found out that many who leave don’t have the professional skills or education to build a successful career,” she said.
The deterrent, for her, was neither desire nor potential. Often, people from underrepresented communities have an abundance of both. The main culprit, rather, was being born in an environment that restricted either.
So, Christy left her religion and embarked on a path that allowed for more freedom. In terms of her career, she wanted a job that would let her work anywhere. She found this in coding. There were just two problems.
Firstly, she was working as a product specialist for an HVAC-R distributor and was a novice in the field of programming. Secondly, although a coding education was the obvious solution to the former, she couldn’t afford one.
Elliott Jones was an MBA grad working a nine-to-five office job. As far as anyone was concerned, he checked two boxes in the success checklist. As far as he was concerned, he wanted something more fulfilling. When his father died of lung cancer, the tragedy catalyzed change. Elliott decided to pursue a career that fulfilled more than his financial needs.
“I moved back home, and then I got a job in retail and did that for a year,” he said. From thereon, Elliott hopped from job to job. He installed doors and air conditioners then landed a job as a seasonal peanut inspector. But he kept circling to his initial intent: to find a career he’d be passionate about.
He’d always been interested in heavy equipment and construction. “It’s just amazing how those machines are so powerful, what we can do with them,” he said. Elliott eventually checked out the Heavy Equipment Colleges, after which he decided to pursue its Crane Operator Training Program. To cement his way in, he needed to secure one more thing: financing.
And so a recurring theme emerges. For career changers, having a financial cushion while reskilling is imperative. In an attempt to help reduce such a concern, the Harvard Business Review article dished out tips. Live within your new means. Create a budget and a backup plan. Manage your expectations. While these tips are vital, here’s an even more concrete one: Climb Credit.
“It Wasn’t Memorable”
What if I told you that you can invest in a career-advancing education with less risk? You’ll probably say that’s not probable. And I’ll probably say that you’re right, it isn’t. Education, when seen as an investment, will have great risks. Enter student loan provider Climb Credit.
In 2014, Climb Credit came into the scene to de-risk higher education. Not completely but to a degree where financing no longer served as an impenetrable wall to anyone who aspires to pursue further education. Its method is simple.
Climb provides financing to skills-based programs that pass its proprietary diligence process. Under this mechanism, a program must demonstrate a positive return on investment to its students.
That is, the costs incurred by students during their studies should be offset by the returns they’re expected to reap post-program. These could be in the form of program completion, speed-to-job opportunities, and salary growth. This way, financial cost shifts from being a stumbling block to a building block.
During his service for the Marine Corps in the ‘80s, Jo Martin operated on heavy machinery. Four decades later and approaching retirement, the chance to relive his heydays came calling. “Though I had the experience, I needed to refresh my skills… So, I started to look into schools.”
Like Elliott, Jo came across the Heavy Equipment Colleges albeit on a different campus. And like Elliott, he came to one conclusion: “Schools do not come cheap.” The only way they could finance their schooling was by taking out a loan.
However, training institutions for construction or crane operation hardly fit the profile of schools that receive financing from lending platforms. This is where Climb Credit came in. After an interview with the school’s admissions teams, Jo and Elliott found out that Heavy Equipment Colleges is one of Climb’s verified partners.
“I spoke to the folks at Climb, applied, submitted the standard forms and documents, and was approved. Simple as that. Climb is geared to this type of education, so they understood,” recalled Jo.
Christy agreed. Asked about her application process to coding bootcamp Code Fellows, she said: “I was new to this type of lending process. So, it was really nice to have this go smoothly when I was already making this huge life decision and these really big commitments.”
Climb’s underwriting process is anything but tedious. Applicants need only fill an online application form with their personal information, the amount of loan they want to take, and a co-signer if applicable.
Of course, other verification documents are necessary. These could be in the form of documents that show proof of income, residency, as well as enrollment to a Climb-verified school. A bonus: If you’re a prospective student, you can submit multiple applications just to check offers.
Once an applicant’s enrollment is certified and the loan is approved, the process is finalized with the student all set. The entire process takes no more than one business day. In the words of Climb Credit, its “five-minute application gives you results instantly.” In the words of another Climb Credit student borrower, Juan Grajales, the application was so simple that “it wasn’t memorable.”
Hit the Ground Running
At 55, Jo was back in school. After earning two degrees, Elliott was off earning his third credential. Christy went on to pursue her dream of becoming a software engineer at a coding bootcamp. Her situation paints a stark contrast from the woman who fought hard for her parents’ approval just to get into a community college.
Attending Climb-verified schools gave them more benefits than securing financing. Because Climb-Credit operates under a risk-sharing mechanism, both schools and students are incentivized to aim for success. As Jo put it, “Everyone in my school cared about me succeeding. What a concept!”
After less than a year of training for their new careers, it was time for them to hit the ground. And they did it running. As mentioned, Climb Credit serves as a clear pathway to low-risk, high-paying careers.
Elliott found this in Koppers, a global chemical and materials company, where he’s working as a crane operator. “It took me about $15,000 and six weeks of my life to get my education,” said Elliott.
“Now, I’m making $28.25 an hour plus overtime and benefits. I expect to pay [the loan] off within six months and live comfortably while I do it. This is a lot better than your standard four-year degree.”
As for Christy, she regained control of her life—writing her narrative while writing code. She works as a front end software engineer at fitness company ClassPass. In January of next year, she’ll be celebrating her second year in the company.
“My favorite part about being in the tech industry is being surrounded by people that are constantly learning and growing. And it’s not just because tech is continuously evolving but because that’s what they love to do,” she said.
Jo, meanwhile, landed a job as a traveling crane operator for Zachry Industrial. For him, the trade-off for his investment was more than financial and career stability. “I was a police officer for 28 years… And even though I got awards and all that, I always felt talked down to and underappreciated,” he admitted.
“… Now, every day, either my teammates or bosses pump me up! ‘Awesome, papi.’ ‘Kick butt, papi,’ and ‘thanks for helping us out.’ Wow, a pat on the back [and] a winning team environment. [It’s] something I’ve missed since my days in the Marine Corps.”
Do It Anyway With Climb Credit
In the debate on which between paycheck and passion takes priority, Climb Credit changed the narrative by eliminating the discourse and presenting another option. That is, to turn your passion into a paycheck. It was true for Jo, Christy, Elliott, and the thousands of students who graduated from Climb-verified schools.
The statistics speaks for itself. To date, 87% of the more than 20,000 students who benefited from Climb Credit loans secured jobs post-graduation. Three out of five graduates who were offered full-time jobs registered a salary increase of 70.3%*.
When contemplating a career switch, thoughts about risks and deterrents immediately fill one’s mind. There’s the steady drumbeat of bills to pay and the uncertainty of whether one could pull off a successful career transition. Climb Credit rewrites this pattern by redirecting one’s focus on opportunities that come with a rewarding career shift.
This brings us to a full circle. If you’re still on the fence about making a career switch, chances are you’re worried about whether you can afford one. And can you? The short answer is yes, depending on where you want to go and how you want to go there. Here’s a shorter one: Get onboard with Climb Credit.
*Based on 3,506 Climb student graduate survey response
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.