When exploring/beginning a career change, approach it like you did when you first got started in your career.
Ask yourself the important questions. Is it the right time in your life? Have you saved enough to take a pay cut if necessary? Will you move locations if required? Is it a hard industry to break into? How much endurance do you have? Is there a point where you consider turning back?
Do your research. Learn the typical career path for the industry that interests you. Figure out if there are opportunities for advancement. Find out who the leading companies are and what the starting salaries look like. Glassdoor.com is a great resource for this type of information.
Figure out who you might be connected to that currently is doing what you want to do. Are you already on LinkedIn or Levo League? Join. It’s a great way to scan your existing network (people who’ve you worked with or met in a professional setting) for connections to a potential mentor or resource. Search your high school or college network. Once you make connections, set up informational interviews and seek a shadowing opportunity.
Work on articulating your transferable skillsets. What is your pitch for your potential future employer? You already have a set of skills; determine which of those translate. Call on past experiences. Perhaps you’re leaving an IT role, but are hungry for a marketing position. Have you ever consulted? How did you get new clients? That’s a form of marketing your services. Articulate how you've already demonstrated those skills. The stronger your pitch, the less likely you’ll have to start from the bottom.
Leave your current position on a good note. When you decide to make a move or change paths, make your move professionally and respectfully. Your current manager may even be able to help you make a transition or be willing to hire you back if things don’t work out. Don’t ruin the professional relationships you’ve worked hard on just because you’re leaving.