Sometimes changing careers means going back to school. But bills don’t stop just because you’re in class – in fact going back to school creates new bills!

So how do you balance getting the education you may need for a career chance with actually having a career?

By learning smart.

Not all career choices require four-year degrees – and even those that seem to at first glance will often have back doors. Example: Going into counseling may look like it requires a psychology degree – normally a Masters or Doctorate. That’s 8+ years of school. However, social workers can get work in counselling also, and a license for social work only requires a 2 year associates degree.

Some careers you can work your way into gradually. A few weeks or months of training can get you an EMT certification, which is not only a good first step to a nursing or paramedic degree, it can get you a job at a hospital or health clinic, many of which will help pay for you to get a nursing degree.

Don’t forget – not all career paths even require college. While those interested in working a trade often go to technical or vocational school, some unions still have apprenticeship programs set up though master tradesman, so you can be working while you learn.

For those career changes that truly require a degree, part-time and online colleges are wonderful things. Online schools like Kaplan University are designed for people who need to hold down a job while they learn, with flexible class schedules that can work around your job.

Getting the education you need for the career change you want isn’t necessarily easy. But if you work smart, it is definitely possible.