If you are a single, unemployed or underemployed mom with a passel of kids, your prospects probably don’t look so hot right now. Single moms (and dads) have it especially tough in this economy since the cost of child care prevents them from moving forward.
It is really a vicious cycle for single, unemployed or underemployed parents. To get a job or retrain for a new career, you need some one to watch the kids. But without a job, how does one pay for child care so as to look for a job or retrain for a new career in the first place? Having been there myself once, I know how hard it is for a single mom to land a job or train for a new career when there are kids in the picture. It’s not an impossible situation, however. All it takes is a plan, the determination to do it, and a hellacious schedule for a year or two.
Why career retraining? The reality is that no one can live on the income generated by an entry level minimum wage job. To cover the bills, most single parents have to hold down two jobs which means there is not much time left over for the kids. Career retraining is the opportunity you need for landing a better paying job. More pay means that you can work normal hours instead of flogging yourself to death at two or three jobs.
The best jobs for retraining. While secretly we all long to work at Disneyland or be a professional gamer, not all career fields are hiring. When retraining for a new career, focus on a career path that is poised for growth in 2011. What are these jobs? Read Job-Info-and-Trends at Careerbuilder.com for a complete run down of hot career trends for 2011.
Not all of these jobs require extensive college education. Single parents who feel that only a year of career retraining is all they can manage will note that a number of vocational jobs made the list. Examples include HVAC & septic installers installation, clerical workers, skilled construction labor, and physical therapy aides. Training for a vocational job usually takes between six months to two years to complete.
Financing your education So, how does a parent finance a career change? Back when I was a single mom my income was low enough that I was eligible for all types of financial aid. The federal funded Federal Student Aid program (FAFSA) covered the cost of my tuition and books, provided me with work study opportunities, and loaned me money via a Stafford Loan. It was the Stafford that gave me the break I needed by covering the initial cost of child care so that finding part time work was now possible.
Help via Federal Financial Aid is not just for students pursuing a four year degree. Single, low income individuals interested in attending trade schools, vocational technical (VoTech) programs, or community colleges may also qualify for federal financial aid. To discover what kind of federal financial aid you may be eligible for, the FAFSA website can help.
While FAFSA won’t cover all the costs connected with going to school, it will at least provide you with a considerable financial boost so that career retraining is possible.
Positioning yourself for a new career. Retraining yourself for a new career is only part of the picture towards improving your employment situation. The other part is to position yourself so that the work can find you. There are several ways that this can be done.
* Work for a company as a non paid intern for hands-on experience in your career path. Interns often are hired by this same company after graduation.
* Volunteer in related areas to gain experience.
* Networking by joining the Chamber of Commerce or other professional organizations.
* Self promotion by passing around business cards to friends, relatives, and neighbors.
No one expects the economy to recover any time soon which means low income families will continue to find their situation grim. For single moms trapped in low income jobs, career retraining is how to break the cycle of poverty. Federal Financial Aid and the determination to succeed is what will make it possible.