The old normal: You got a degree. You launched a career. Your career lasted until retirement.
The new normal: Careers have a shelf life shorter than sliced cheese. Recessions and technology mean many of you find yourselves outsourced, downsized or furloughed about 20 years before you can get cineplex senior discounts.
Solution: Try midcareer education and retraining. These days, the economy's only constant is change -- and change starts with you. If you're forced to reinvent yourself, make sure you have at least the basic skills the market wants, says Laurence Shatkin, author of "2011 Career Plan."
"If you don't know how to do an Excel spreadsheet, this is the time to learn," he says.
Don't have a lot of time or money? To save on both, ask senior executives in the field you're targeting which skills they most value. If you have your heart set on a specific company, find out which schools and training programs they target for recruiting.
Remember, knowledge is your key resource. A good place to start gathering it is the Department of Labor's Occupational Information Network, where you can find a wealth of information on growth fields and their educational requirements.