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Making a Career Change at Midlife

Making a Career Change at Midlife

Are you looking for a change in your life? Is the career you've had for years no longer fulfilling? Were you recently let go from your job? Whatever reason you have for making the change from one career path to the next, there are many things to consider, and many options to choose from.

Is it Too Late in Life to Change Careers?

That’s almost a rhetorical question, since you’re the only one who can make that decision. No matter what age you are, if you’re living for the weekends because your job is stressing you out and leaving you unsatisfied, then maybe a career change should be considered.

You may also want to consider this change if you are having trouble making ends meet, if you have a feeling your talents would be better suited elsewhere, or both. If you have the drive, desire, ability, and industriousness, then nothing should stop you from fulfilling a different dream.

Some interesting facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • BLS reports that over 40 percent of workers age 55 and older are looking to switch jobs or careers, with that number expected to increase by 2024.
  • Fifty-four percent of Gen X isn't planning on retiring by age 65.
  • More than 50 percent of employees change jobs every 3 years.
  • Data has shown that the average age to switch career paths is 39.

Common Career Changing Insecurities

Research has shown that most Americans have changed their jobs 10-15 times in their life. What research hasn’t proven is what is prompted a job change—whether it’s a promotion, moving to a different department within the same company, or completely jumping from one industry to another.

There are many variations on this midlife career-changing theme. However, there are some common fears most people have that can prevent them from making a career change.

  • Financial insecurity
  • Uncertainty of what to do next
  • Lacking the necessary skills and qualifications for another career
  • Fear of failure
  • Age discrimination occurrences
  • Having to go back to school
While some of these concerns are legitimate, take your time in assessing your situation. Be sure not to make the change before you're ready; but also understand if you do feel the need to change, you should act. Beginning to plan for a switch may even offer you some clarity on your situation, and alleviate some of the insecurities you may be facing.

Midlife Career Change Tips

There are plenty of obstacles that can hold us back from making changes. The unknown can be scary, especially when you’ve been in a comfortably familiar state for a long time. We have one chance at this crazy ride called life, and sometimes, we have to take chances in order to really live.

But, before you leap, it really is best to look. If a career change is on the table, think about the following things before making this life-altering decision.

  • Weigh your reasoning for wanting a career change. Are you unhappy? Bored? Feeling stuck? Make sure it isn’t just your job that you want to change, as opposed to your entire career path.
  • Take into consideration your financial situation. Depending on your second stage career goal, determine if you have enough savings to support a potential drawn-out financial draught. Do you have a financial plan in place? Do you need to downsize? Live on a budget until your new career has you up and running again? Do you have enough in savings, in case you need to dip into it?
  • Look beyond your passion. It’s always satisfying to get paid for your passion, but make sure your passion has a sustainable paycheck associated with it. Otherwise, look into your interests; those may be a better fit to make a living.
  • Have a backup plan in place. For example, if your new career is going to take some schooling, can you do that and keep getting a paycheck simultaneously? You may need to make sure your finances are in order so you can pay bills during this transition time.
  • Be realistic. The truth is, a career change comes with a lot of other factors, like maybe a lower salary than what you were used to, different work schedules, or use of a different skill set. Having realistic expectations is beneficial to your emotional and physical well-being.
  • Do plenty of research. Whether you know what your second stage career is going to be or not, it’s always a wise idea to look deep into it. Examine online forums, talk with people in the field, see if you can sit in on a class—use whatever resources you can to help you decide if this is the career for you.

11 Careers to Consider at 40

Being 40 or older should not limit you from any career path. Careers with a quick training time can appeal to many adults.

So, for a new and fresh career that you can begin with very little training time, you could consider one of the following highly fulfilling careers.

  • Dental assistant: Graduate from an accredited dental assisting program, and pass the state exam. Since it’s a certificate program, it only takes about one year.
  • Personal trainer: You only need your high school diploma or GED to become a personal trainer. You may need a certification to become a personal trainer, and with plenty of gyms continuing to open up, you should be able to find clients with fitness goals needing to be met.
  • Cosmetology: You will need to complete beauty school, which takes approximately 15 months, and then pass the state licensing exam before you can begin your cosmetology apprenticeship. Jobs tend to be stable. For a further look into entering cosmetology school as an adult, read Tips for Adults Considering Cosmetology School.
  • Massage therapy: You’ll complete an accredited massage therapy program, which takes at least 500 hours. Each state has its own licensing requirement, so check with yours to find out what you’ll need to do.
  • Vet tech: You’ll have to get an associate degree to become a veterinary technician, and that takes two years if you attend school on a full-time basis. If you love animals and don't mind some extra schooling, becoming a vet tech may be a great option for you.
  • Freelance: If you have a marketable skill, consider starting a freelance business around it. You can also try out different gigs through platforms such as Uber, Task Rabbit, or Airbnb.
  • Information technology: There are many different types of careers in IT, and it takes anything from work experience to a doctorate to snag a job. These are usually pretty high-paying careers, as well as necessary to nearly any industry.
  • Business administration: Whatever type of degree you have, from a certification or higher, will dictate the type of business administration career you can step into. Obviously, the more education you have, the better your chances are of landing a job. The field is highly competitive, but also very rewarding.
  • Registered nurse: You can become an RN three different ways: through a nursing certificate program, a two-year associate degree program, or a bachelor of science in nursing program. We need nurses, so there are a lot of jobs available.
  • Physical therapy assistant: Physical therapy assistants must be licensed, so you’ll have to complete a two-year associate degree program and pass the state licensing exam.

There are many different career paths to choose from. While taking the step forward can feel difficult, your options are not as limited as they may appear. If you're interested in transitioning from your current industry to another, we encourage you to take the leap!