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Guide To Advancing Your Career as a Single Parent

single parent career

As a single parent, you face unique challenges regarding your career. Balancing work and parenting responsibilities is difficult, and finding time and energy to invest in your professional development can seem impossible. Studies have shown that single-parent families in the United States are nearly twice as likely to live in poverty than two-parent families. So it might be time to consider increasing your job market value to benefit you and your family long-term. Earning an advanced degree is critical for competing in the modern job market. An advanced degree can make you more marketable to employers and open up new career opportunities.  According to BLS, on average, master’s degree holders earn 30% more than bachelor’s degree holders. Achieving a higher salary can provide a much-needed financial boost for your family. If you’re considering going back to school as a single parent, there are a few things you need to know to make the process as smooth as possible. Here’s how to advance your career as a single parent.

Identify Your Career Goals

As a single parent, it is important to understand what you want to achieve in your career. Knowing your goals will help you decide which job opportunities to pursue and how best to utilize your time and resources. There are many factors to consider when determining your career goals, like what you want to achieve in the short and long term. You should also consider your current skills and experience and your desired work/life balance. It may be helpful to talk to a career counselor or other professional about your goals. They can provide valuable insights and resources. Once you clearly understand your goals, you can begin taking steps to achieve them. Some single parents may want to advance in their current career field. Others may decide to enter a new field altogether. There are many options available, and it is important to choose the best option for you and your family. Whichever path you choose, acquiring new skills will be necessary for advancement. You can take classes, participate in training programs, or get certifications in your desired field.

Assessing Your Current Job

Finding a balance between work and parenting responsibilities is important to ensure you can advance your career. Your job should also be stable enough to provide for your family.  You’ll need to ask yourself some important questions when assessing your current job as a single parent, like:
  • Can I maintain my current job while also caring for my children?
  • Is my job flexible enough to allow me to search for advancement opportunities?
  • Can I work part-time if necessary?
  • Does my employer provide the necessary support to balance parenting and work responsibilities?
  • Do I feel fulfilled in my current role?
  • Am I able to advance in my career at my current job?
All of these factors are important to consider when assessing your current job. If you find that your current job doesn’t align with your career goals, it might be time to make a change.

Prepare and Have Patience

Single parents face unique challenges when working to advance their careers. On top of the demands of parenting, you also have to juggle work and other responsibilities. This can make it challenging to find time to further your education or pursue other opportunities for career advancement. However, it is essential to remember that career advancement is a long-term process. It may take years to achieve your goals, but you can reach your objectives with patience and perseverance. One of the best ways to prepare for a successful career is to earn a bachelor’s degree. If you have not already done so, completing a four-year degree program will give you the knowledge and skills you need to compete for the best jobs.  In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree, there are other ways you can prepare for a successful career, such as: 
  • Earning certifications;
  • Engaging in autodidacticism;
  • Seeking mentorships; 
  • Attending conferences; 
  • Networking.
No matter what path you choose, remember to be patient and stay focused on your goals. You can succeed as a single parent and advance your career with hard work, dedication, and resourcefulness.

Get Help From Family and Friends

As a single parent, you may feel like you have to go it alone. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Many people want to help you succeed in your career and your life. One of the best ways to get help is from family and friends. They can provide much-needed support, both emotionally and practically. Here are some ways they can help:
  • Childcare: One of the biggest challenges for working parents is finding quality childcare. It will make a big difference if you have family or friends who can help. They could watch your kids while you’re at work, or even just for a few hours so you can have some time to yourself.
  • Financial support: Another big challenge for single parents is making ends meet. If you have family or friends who can help out financially, it will take a lot of stress off your shoulders. They may help with childcare costs, groceries, or even everyday expenses.
  • Emotional support: Being a single parent is tricky, both emotionally and practically. Having someone to talk to who understands what you’re going through is a huge help. Family and friends can provide a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on when needed.
  • Practical support: There are lots of little things that add up to a big help. If you have family or friends who can do things like run errands, pick up groceries, or even just help out around the house, it will make your life much easier.
  • Career advice: If you’re looking to advance your career, family and friends can be a great resource. They can offer advice and help you network with other professionals.
As you can see, there are many ways that family and friends can help you as a single parent. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. It could make all the difference in the world.

Talk to Your Employer About Tuition Assistance

Many companies offer tuition assistance to help their employees further their education and skills. Before approaching your employer about tuition assistance, it’s essential to do your research and know what options are available.  Many large companies have partnerships with local colleges and universities. These relationships may include developing programs that benefit the company and its employees the most. Employees interested in returning to school may benefit from reduced tuition or employer-funded education expenses at these schools. Once you know what’s available, you can talk to your employer about tuition assistance and help them formulate an action plan. If your current employer does not offer tuition assistance, you may want to consider working for a company that does. This benefit can be a great way to help you further your education and career goals.

Find Financial Assistance for Single Parents

You may wonder how you’ll finance your education if you’re a single parent. Luckily, several scholarships and grants are available specifically for single parents.  One scholarship that may be of interest is the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to low-income women over the age of 35 who are pursuing an undergraduate or technical degree.  Applicants must demonstrate financial need and have a GPA of 2.5 or higher to be eligible. For more opportunities, check out the Scholarship.com resource page on college scholarships and grants for single parents.  In addition to scholarships, there are also grants available to single parents. The Federal Pell Grant provides need-based grants to low-income students, including unmarried parents, pursuing post-secondary education.  To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate financial need and be enrolled in a qualified institution. Check out The Balance’s guide to find out more about education grant opportunities for single parents. Other financial aid available to single parents includes loans, work-study programs, and tuition assistance from their employer.

Choose the Right Master’s Degree Program

As a single parent, you know that continuing your education is important for your career and your family. But with everything else on your plate, it can be tough to figure out how to make it all work.  The good news is that plenty of great online master’s degree programs can help you get the education you need without sacrificing your time with your kids. Here are a few things to look for when choosing the right online master’s degree program:
  • Flexibility: One of the biggest benefits of online education is that it can be very flexible. Look for a program that offers courses that fit your schedule and that you can complete at your own pace.
  • Affordability: As a single parent, you might not have much extra money to spend on tuition. Fortunately, there are many affordable online degree programs out there. Be sure to compare costs before you enroll.
  • Reputation: When you’re looking at online programs, it’s important to make sure that you choose one from a reputable school. Look for programs accredited by the proper accrediting bodies and with a good reputation among students and employers.
Online master’s degree programs offer several benefits for single parents. With flexible scheduling and the ability to study from home, online programs allow you to earn a degree while still caring for your children.  Additionally, online programs often offer lower tuition rates than traditional on-campus programs.

Picking the Best Degree for Your Goals

Choosing an online master’s degree program can be a daunting task. With so many programs and specializations, it’s hard to know where to start.  First, consider your goals. What do you hope to achieve by getting a master’s degree? Do you want to further your career in your current field or switch fields entirely?  Once you have a good idea of your goals, you can start looking at specific programs to help you achieve them.  There are many great online master’s programs, but not all of them will be a good fit for you. Consider your budget, your time commitment, and the specific requirements of the programs you’re interested in.  Make sure to do your research and only apply to programs that you’re confident you’ll be able to complete successfully.  Finally, don’t forget to consider your passion. Getting a master’s degree is a big commitment, so you want to make sure you choose a program you’ll enjoy, and that offers specializations in areas that interest you.  Picking the right online master’s degree program can be tough, but if you take the time to consider your goals, budget, and passion, you’re sure to find the perfect fit. With so many great programs available, there’s no reason not to further your education and achieve your goals.

Commit to Your Schedule

It’s no secret that parenting is a full-time job. And for single parents, it can be especially challenging to commit to a consistent class schedule. After all, there are a million and one things vying for your attention at any given moment.  But if you’re determined to pursue a higher-level degree, there are ways to make it work.  First and foremost, it’s important to be realistic about your time commitments. For example, if you have young children at home, you might need to plan your coursework around bedtime. Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s hiring a babysitter for a few hours each week or enlisting family and friends’ help, delegate tasks so you can focus on your studies. Finally, consider an online degree program. With online courses, you can study on your own time and at your own pace. That means you won’t have to risk neglecting any parenting duties. If you’re a single parent looking to further your education, know it is possible. With a little bit of planning and a lot of dedication, you can make it work.

Prioritize Organization

For single parents pursuing a degree, staying organized can be a challenge. With your time in such great demand, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks.  But when you’re pursuing a graduate degree, organization is key. You can do a few things to ensure you stay on top.  First, designate a dedicated study area in your home. This will help you stay focused when it’s time to hit the books. Second, establish a filing system for important documents and coursework. This way, you won’t have to waste time searching for things when you need them. Finally, make a list of your priorities and refer to it often. This will help you stay on track and ensure you do not forget anything important. Following these simple tips, you’ll be able to stay organized — even when life gets hectic.

Allow for Some Leisure Time 

Being a single parent is tough enough, but pursuing an advanced degree on top of that can be downright overwhelming.  It’s important to remember that you need some time for yourself, or you’ll quickly burn out. Make sure to put aside some leisure time each week, even if it’s just an hour or two. You’ll be glad you did!

Contact Information


Toby Burris
Montclair State University
Student Recruitment Manager

(973) 435-0909
onlinebusiness@montclair.edu

Do you have questions about the online MBA? You may find it helpful to watch a webinar hosted by Student Recruitment Manager, Toby Burris.

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