Asian mom in white sweater working on tablet with kids behind her on gray couch

Advice for Parents Looking to Return to Work and School

Sometimes parents have to leave the workforce when they have kids. Looking to get back to work? Here's some advice if your plans involve college.

Nearly one in five parents—mostly women—leave the workforce when their children are born, according to the Pew Research Center. Stay-at-home parents solve child care challenges and improve educational outcomes for kids, but what happens when they want to return to the workforce? Unfortunately, many stay-at-home parents find the workforce less welcoming than when they left. Not only do many parents stay out of the workforce longer than expected, but barriers hold them back when they decide to return.

Many employers are biased against stay-at-home parents—they’re viewed as less capable, less reliable, and less committed than their peers who have been continuously employed. This makes employers hesitant to hire and promote re-entering parents. Employers may fear parents will prioritize family over work, but in reality, research suggests mothers are more productive than women without children. So how can parents convince employers they're an asset to the team?

Grow your network

Networking is key to staying current as a stay-at-home parent. When parents find job opportunities through connections familiar with their work, they can more easily overcome the bias that stops stay-at-home parents from re-entering the workforce. Getting hired through your network is also much more effective than sending résumés into the void of online job boards, which are often overflowed with first-time job seekers.

Related: 4 Easy Networking Strategies for Online Students

Go back to school

Stay-at-home parents may be just as capable as their employed peers, but skills are bound to lapse over years out of the workforce. As a result, many re-enter the workforce at a lower level and pay than when they left. In fact, just two to three years at home results in a 30% pay cut for mothers. Going back to school is the best way to convince employers you have the skills and knowledge for the job. In addition to undergraduate and graduate degrees, job seekers can refresh their résumé with certificates and Continuing Education Units. The availability of online schooling and financial aid has made higher education increasingly accessible to parents, whether you're brushing up on old skills or pivoting to a new career. Here are some popular career paths for parents returning to work:

  • Health care: Health care will be one of the most essential jobs after the pandemic. From nursing to health care administration, the best health care careers start with a bachelor's degree.
  • Teaching: Teaching is another in-demand career. The requirements to become a teacher vary by state, but most require a bachelor's degree, background check, and an entrance exam before licensure.
  • Real estate: Becoming a real estate agent doesn't require a college degree, but you’ll need to enroll in training and pass a licensing exam before you become a practicing agent.
  • Marketing and communications: Public relations specialists, social media managers, and market research analysts are just a few professionals who get their start with a Marketing or Communications degree.
  • Web development: Web development remains one of the most in-demand tech careers. While coding camps teach the basics, formal education provides the foundational knowledge that web developers need.

Not sure what career path you should choose? Search tools like CollegeXpress can help you explore majors, colleges, and scholarship opportunities to discover the right fit for you.

Look for workplace flexibility

Even when stay-at-home parents land a job offer, there's no guarantee it’ll work with their schedule. The nature of school and child care requires working parents to maintain flexibility. Unfortunately, employers don't always see it the same way. Rather than fighting for flexibility with a reluctant employer, parents should look for jobs that have flexibility built in. This is getting easier with the rise of remote jobs, allowing parents to work from home. Other possibilities include part-time work and choosing employers and career paths that embrace flexibility.

Related: Careers for People Who Want to Work From Home

Re-entering the workforce poses a lot of obstacles for stay-at-home parents, but it's also full of opportunity. Instead of letting barriers hold you back, earn a degree that’ll take your career to new heights. With a flexible profession and the right credentials under your belt, you can find success at home and in your career. 

Ready to get back to (class)work? Check out our article on How to Succeed in College as an Adult Student.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
adult learners adult learning back to school careers college search parents

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo

$10,000

Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Carlie Cadet

Carlie Cadet

High School Class of 2019

CollegeXpress has helped me learn about an abundance of scholarships available to me and my situation. I was able to do research for colleges in my best interest with your website. I've had multiple colleges email me and offer me multiple scholarships and things of that nature because of this website! Thank you so much for uploading scholarships I didn’t even know existed, even if my life took a huge turn and I wasn’t able to go to college straight out of high school. CollegeXpress helped me a lot in high school to be even more motivated to get into my dream college (which I did, by the way). I'm looking forward to using the materials CollegeXpress has kindly provided me for free to look for scholarships to help pay for college.

Kelly Nogueiro

Kelly Nogueiro

Counselor

For me, CollegeXpress has given me a valuable tool to use with my students to explore colleges easily beyond objective data. It helps me find colleges for students that fit their needs and wants that aren’t quite so black and white. It's a wealth of knowledge, and the Type-A side of me loves all the lists and the fact that I know they're coming from folks who know what they're talking about. I share it with colleagues and students alike, and it's always well received.

Lydia Huth

Lydia Huth

Student, Campbell University; CollegeXpress Student Writer

I discovered CollegeXpress while embarking on my college search journey as an excited—but scared and way confused—high schooler without a counselor or college-bound sibling to give me advice. Let me tell you, I’m so glad that I stumbled on this community! CollegeXpress helped me find potential colleges and keep application deadlines straight. It gave me a great list of scholarships, and the blogs and emails made me feel like I wasn’t going it alone. Almost three years later and with freshman year of college down, I still love the CollegeXpress vibe so much that I’m writing for them. I’d recommend this site to anyone!

Monica

Monica

High School Class of 2023

Being a sophomore in high school, I never really worried about college. I thought it wasn't important to worry about until senior year. Through this program opportunity I came across, I realized how important it is to start looking at colleges early and start planning ahead. CollegeXpress has opened my eyes to what colleges require, what colleges are near me, and what they offer. The daily emails I get from CollegeXpress really help me look at the different options I have and what colleges I fit into. Without this website, I would not be taking the time out of my day to worry about what my future will be nor what opportunities I have. I could not be more grateful for such an amazing and useful website. It's thanks to CollegeXpress that not only me but my family now know how much potential I have in to getting into these colleges/universities that we thought were out of my reach.

Melanie Kajy

Melanie Kajy

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me tremendously during my senior year of high school. I started off using the college search to find more information about the universities I was interested in. Just this tool alone gave me so much information about a particular school. It was my one-stop shop to learn about college. I was able to find information about college tuition, school rank, majors, and so much more that I can't list it all. The college search tool has helped me narrow down which college I want to attend, and it made a stressful process surprisingly not so stressful. I then moved to the scholarship search tool to find scholarships to apply for because I can't afford to pay for tuition myself. The search tool helped me find scholarships that I was eligible for. The tool gave me all the information I could ever need about a particular scholarship that was being offered. The CollegeXpress scholarship search tool is so much better than other tools offered, like the Chegg scholarship search. Thanks to CollegeXpress, I was able to apply to tons of scholarships in a relatively easy way!

College Matches