How many jobs can you expect to work over the course of your career?

It’s not news that the days of working at one job – or even in one career path – over the course of your working life are largely a thing of the past. So, since most of us will be hopping from job to job and switching fields as our careers progress, how many different roles are we going to end up working in?

Well, it’s definitely more than previous generations. New research has found the average millennial has already worked in as many jobs as those aged 55 have had over their entire career.

A poll of over 2,000 working people done by Open Study College found that those who were between 25-34 years of age have, on average, already worked in six different roles so far. While older adults closer to retirement age, had only worked at a total of seven jobs throughout their entire working life. Furthermore, nearly half (47 per cent) of millennials have already completely changed their career path since starting their first job.

I am in the middle of the age demographics profiled in the study – older than a millennial, although not yet near 55 or close to retirement – and I have had seven jobs so far. That’s seven professional jobs in my field, I’m not including the multiple farms, factories, and warehouses that I worked at to pay the rent and tuition while I was studying.

Based on my personal experience, these numbers would seem to apply to Gen X as much as Gen Y.

Why are we changing jobs?

Sometimes there is no choice. Stable long-term employment can be hard to find, as many industries go through periods of turmoil and renewal. Also, people generally leave one job for another for better pay, better work-life balance, or the opportunity to advance in their careers.

How many job changes will we make?

According to the survey, regardless of age groups, the average worker will stay in any one job for an average of five and a half years. If those numbers hold, a typical employee should expect to work eight jobs before the age of 65.

Of course, if these numbers hold is a pretty big caveat. Noted futurologist Rohit Talwar has predicted that the children of today can expect to work until they are 100 years old and will likely have what he calls “portfolio careers” that could include as many as 40 jobs and 10 different career paths.

That puts a bad job into perspective. You won’t like every role you hold, but they’re all temporary, and your next opportunity is right around the corner. The important thing is to keep moving in the right direction. Learn new skills, expand your network, and advance your career with each job move that you make.

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