Reverse Career Planning

Do you have the skills and experience to start applying for your chosen job straight away!  If so, you can skip this bit and move straight to Step 10 – Your Career Plan.

If you don’t yet have the skills and experience you need, read on…..

OK, so now’s time to plan your career in reverse!  Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean going back to high school…..

Think about your career as a journey and you’re starting off at your home.  Your ideal job is in the next town.  You leave your home and walk down the street.  You get to the end of the street and you have three roads to choose from – you can go left, right, or straight ahead.  Which one do you choose?  Any of the roads may lead to your ideal job, but some routes may take longer than others.

When we start to plan our career journeys, it’s important to always have our end goal in mind.  So rather than starting with where we are now (e.g. home), we start with our ideal job, and work backwards until we reach our starting point.

Imagine you have worked as an office administrator for many years but you’ve opted for a complete career change and have decided to become a secondary school teacher.  You have no teaching experience whatsoever.

Do some research (National Careers Service, speak to people who work in the field, contact a careers adviser, etc) and ask a bunch of questions.  Step by step, you may explore your career options in reverse like this:

Question 1 – What experience or qualifications do I need to become a teacher?

There are three different routes to choose from:

  1. An undergraduate degree that leads to Qualified Teacher Status OR
  2. A postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) OR
  3. A training programme for career-changers that leads to Qualified Teacher Status (such as Now Teach, Transition to Teach, or Teach First).

Question 2 – Do I have any of these qualifications?

No, I don’t.  Move to Step 3.

Question 3 – What experience or qualifications do I need for each of these routes?

  1. Undergraduate degree – I would need 2 to 3 A levels or equivalent.
  2. Postgraduate certificate in education – I would need an undergraduate degree.
  3. Career change training programme – I would need at least 5 years work experience including 1 year of management experience.

Question 4 – Do I have any of these qualifications / experience?

  1. I have 3 A levels, so I could apply for an undergraduate degree.
  2. I have 5 years work experience with no management experience. But I could perhaps gain some management experience.

Question 5 – Which of these routes is best for me?

I need to consider which route is the best for me.  Doing an undergraduate degree may be the most expensive option but may be the easiest (I have good A level grades so should be able to get onto a course).  Getting management experience would be the least expensive but it could be difficult to get a promotion now as my company is making cut backs.


Again, there is no right or wrong decision – it’s important to choose the option that is best for you.  It may be helpful to discuss with someone you trust, to help you make this decision.

When you’ve decided on the best route, you’ll know what your starting point is.  In the example above, the starting point could either be:

  1. Applying for a place on a degree course, or
  2. Applying for a management position.

Then, move on to the final step…. Your Career Plan.