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How to Change Careers, Quickly and Cheaply

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Dreaming about a new career?

No matter how much you envision professional nirvana, switching careers may seem out of reach. Obtaining new skills can take time, and entering a new industry can set back earnings.

Take heart: There are careers that allow you to get started without having to survive on instant noodles and beans.

These jobs also do not require long periods of pricey schooling -- in many cases, a few weeks or months of training will do the trick.

Here are a few in-demand career paths that can have you on a new career path in no time.

Life coaching
Life coaching is among today's hottest new careers. International Coach Foundation, or ICF, an industry group, now boasts 15,000 life coach members, up from just 2,000 a decade ago.

"Life coaching is about moving forward (rather than) looking back, as you may find in therapy," says Ann Belcher, ICF marketing manager. "(Life coaches) work creatively with a client to come up with answers. That's different from consulting, where an expert gives a client an action plan of what to do."

Life coaching doesn't require special certification to enter the profession. However, some training is highly recommended. ICF only certifies and refers life coaches who meet education and training standards, and membership to that organization can greatly help promote a business.

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Generally, it takes no more than a year of classes to complete training. Programs and tuition costs vary depending on the school, and ICF keeps a partial list of programs that offer accredited life-coaching programs on its Web site.

Connie Cusick made two significant career swaps by age 40.

A former telecommunications sales manager, Cusick left the corporate fast-track when her two sons were born and started her own jewelry line.

Soon, people were asking Cusick how to start a business and what they should do with their lives. As she shared tips, she found her true niche: helping others identify their passions and channeling them to work.

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