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Career Change Is Possible at 30, 40, 50+

Updated: January 5, 2024 | Published: April 18, 2017

Updated: January 5, 2024

Published: April 18, 2017

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Change is a constant in life. So, it makes sense that at any age, you may be considering making a career change. Whether you’re looking to accomplish a career change at 30, career change at 40, career change at 50, or even later in life, the good news is that it’s very possible to do.

The truth is that different age ranges call for different needs and general life circumstances. To help position you to make the jump, let’s break down the thought process by decade to make your considerations more organized.

This way, if you’re sitting there thinking “I need a new career” (or that thought crosses your mind multiple times a day), but you just don’t know where to start, you will know just what to do by the end of this article.

Source: Pexels

How to Change Careers at 30

If you’ve followed the traditional path of attending college after high school (or even entering the workforce after high school), then by 30, you’ll have spent roughly a decade in the workforce. At 30, responsibilities on your plate are likely just starting to grow or will in the near future — with kids, mortgage payments, paying off student loan debt, etc.

At this stage, if you find yourself wanting a new career, it’s good to act upon it before more personal duties pile up.

Take the following into consideration:

  • Think about your current career and the aspects you like and dislike
  • Take advantage of your existing network and peers to leverage opportunities that may already be at your fingertips (i.e., set up a lunch or coffee date with someone you know who works in the field you’re thinking about moving into so that you can ask your questions to find out if it’s a better fit)
  • One of the best things to do at this stage is to obtain new skills. You can even do this while you’re still working in your current position by enrolling in certificate programs online. 
  • Adjust your resume according to the skills and keywords for the next job you seek.
  • Chances are that your skills are transferable to other industries, but you’ll need to rework your existing resume to align it to your next position.
  • Don’t give up. If you need help or support, seek it from trusted mentors, friends, family, or academic advisors (if you’re busy earning another degree or certificate).

How to Change Careers at 40

Changing careers at 40 can also be done. But it may look a little different than at 30, as the chances are higher that you have more responsibilities, including financial ones.

First and foremost, you have to believe it’s possible to accomplish, and allow your next steps to be supported by this belief.

You can overcome financial challenges by planning. If you’re able to save money, put some away or invest it to offer a protective buffer as you make the shift. Alternatively, you may be able to continue working in your current role, but cut the number of hours that you work while you allocate the freed-up time to the new position you’d like to grow into. Unlike in your 30s, you may not just be able to jump ship; it may have to be a slower transition.

If you don’t know what you want to do by this point, don’t be hard on yourself because people change careers at all stages of their lives. It’s often a process of trial and error.

You may also be thinking that you’ve spent too much time and worked too hard to get to where you are to just throw it away. This is known as the sunk cost fallacy. By sticking with something that doesn’t leave you satisfied, you’re not protecting your investment in time. Rather, you’re adding more time and frustration when you can shift your focus and find satisfaction elsewhere.

Along with the financial planning of changing careers at 40, the biggest hurdle most people need to overcome at this age is the mental aspect. Move forward with confidence and shift your perspective because “nothing ventured is nothing gained.”

Source: Pexels

How to Change Careers at 50

So, you’ve made it to another decade older (and another decade wiser), but you’re still not satisfied with your career. And that’s okay because time is yours for the taking to find your joy.

At this stage, hopefully, you’re feeling a little more relieved of responsibilities and duties that might have burdened you during your 40s. At 50, the consideration of money may hold less weight than it did in decades past, so you can really focus on the impact you wish to make, the passions you have, and your desire to achieve self-actualization.

And yet, fear still may not have left your side. That is until you decide to let the fear go. Rather than being bogged down by the fear of trying something new, you can take an honest assessment of your skill set and work experience to determine whether it’s going to be feasible to move into the career of your dreams. And, the truth is, where there’s a will, there most definitely is away.

If it means you have to go learn new skills, then you can do just that. Thanks to technology, you have online educational resources at your fingertips. From online degrees to massive online open courses (MOOCs), you can learn more while spending less. Going back to school as an adult? Read this.

When you apply for a job in an entirely new field at this stage, then tailor your cover letter to explain your career change. Here’s a look at how that can be done.

Once you’ve updated your resume for the position you seek, you may find yourself in changing working environments from the past. That is, you’ll likely be working with younger people, so instead of seeing that as a challenge, you can consider it an opportunity because they may be able to show you new and more efficient ways of doing things.

Take a Step, Make the Change!

A career change at 30, a career change at 40, and a career change at 50 are all possible to do. It just requires an honest look at your current circumstances, evaluating your priorities, and a positive mindset to believe that you can actually do it (because you can)!