Is It Ever Too Late to Change Careers?
Changing your career path is not a decision to take lightly. It’s important to gather all of the information at your disposal to make an informed and viable decision on what direction to take your professional life.
Changing your career is increasingly difficult after you enter your 40s, so it can help to seek guidance on how to make that transition more seamless and worth all the effort. This article will help shed some light on what options are at your disposal, and whether it is too late to change careers at your stage of life.
Can I Start a New Career After 40?
Not only is it possible to change careers at 40, but it is highly plausible that you can find great success. The American Institute of Economic Research found that a majority of older adults who try to change careers are able to complete the transition, and they are happier and more financially successful than they were before.
It is an established trend that workers in the United States are putting off their retirement plans, and extending their professional careers. This makes it all the more important that you find a career that is everything you need it to be.
Common Misconceptions About Changing Careers
It takes bravery to break out of what you know and start a new career trajectory. Knowing how wrong common misconceptions can be when it comes to changing careers later in life might make such a dramatic change less daunting. Read below as we debunk common misconceptions about what it takes to change career paths.
You Won’t Need Your Old Skills in a New Job
The above research conducted by the American Institute of Economic Research shows that the majority of people who made successful career transitions achieved some of that success because they moved onto jobs that used similar skill sets to what they already had. There is no need to start from scratch if the new skills you acquire simply bolster your existing skills.
Completing Formal Training Will Guarantee a Successful Transition
Some people try to complete as many new courses and programs as possible before attempting to find new jobs. However, evidence produced by the American Institute of Economic Research suggests that most workers over the age of 40 who completed a successful career transition actually tended to do less additional training than those who didn’t succeed.
Research on the career pathway you are pursuing is important, but you may not need more formal education. Establish what skills you have and figure out what you still need to learn. Then you can search for information about skills programs and courses that fit your schedule and timetable.
A Career Change Later in Life Is Not Viable
The key areas of making a dramatic career shift are identifying transferable skills that you already have and then researching what jobs would support those skills. Then you can work on developing skills that might be lacking. If you are adequately prepared, you should be able to make a seamless career transition.
Employers Are Only Searching for Young, Fresh Talent
The findings from the American Institute of Economic Research actually reveal that employers still value experience, and recognize that youth is no guarantee of innovation. Likewise, employers clearly appreciate that experience can contribute to greater efficiency in the workplace.
There Isn’t a Job Market for Older Workers
There are more options out there for people reviewing their career options than you might think. Resources have been made available by social media platforms, where so many career change opportunities exist and are marketed. There is definitely an employment vacuum out there, and older workers can fill it.
How Many People Change Careers?
In a 2019 study, the prominent job search platform Indeed revealed that 49 percent of workers in the United States have made a total career change. An equally compelling finding is that about 65 percent of people who have not made a career change are at least considering it.
Which Industries Are Career Changers Gravitating Toward?
Attractive industries for career changers include engineering, finance, and especially technology. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and math occupations are projected to grow 12 percent over the coming decade, compared to 5 percent for business and finance and 3 percent for architecture and engineering.
Transitioning into tech can be straightforward because there are multiple tech-related bootcamps designed for that express purpose. Tech-related bootcamps equip you with all the skills you need to advance your tech career from scratch. Many technology careers also pay very well, even for those making a career transition late in their lives.
When Is Changing Careers the Right Option?
There are multiple reasons to change your career. Some of them will be positive, while others will be negative, but it never hurts to explore your options if you are starting to feel that a career change is right for you.
Career Growth Stagnation
Depending on the company and the industry you are working in, there might be limits to your earning potential, promotional opportunities, and capacity to feel fulfilled in your current career. Once you find you have reached those limits, it might be time to search for something else. It would not hurt to rope in the services of a career coach for this process.
Being able to pay your bills should not be the only reason you go to work. The most successful careers are often built on passion. This is a key ingredient to setting career goals. If you do not have that fire in your belly, it can be hard to find satisfaction in what you are doing.
Strain On Your Personal Life
Balancing personal and work life is often difficult. If the demands of your job are so great that you no longer have time for meaningful relationships, it might be important for you to find a better career fit.
Lack of Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction is something that fuels us all. If you no longer feel good about what you are doing at your current job, a fresh start might be exactly what you need to start feeling motivated and energized again.
You Are Mentally Drained
If you are feeling a dip in your energy and enthusiasm towards your career or life in general, you might be in the wrong profession. No one can do their best work when they are mentally drained. If the sight of your office desk makes you exhausted, maybe a career change is for you.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Changing Careers
Any major change will have a certain level of risk associated with it. The key will be to try to mitigate that risk, which will require weighing the positives and negatives of implementing that change. Some questions you might want to ask yourself include the following.
- Am I able to sustain myself financially during the transition?
- What career do I want to pursue, and do I need career guidance?
- Will my current skills be enough to facilitate a change?
- Do I need to gain a new set of skills to make the career change successful?
- Do I have the support system, which includes a career coach, to help streamline that change?
Best Careers to Start at 40
The best careers after age 40 are often in the field of tech, primarily because of the fast career trajectory this field offers. The two key factors that make a career change worth it are the availability of work opportunities and earning potential. It also helps if the job is fun to do. Below are five stimulating, lucrative, and fast-growing careers in the tech sector.
The demand for statisticians is growing rapidly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for statisticians are expected to increase by 35 percent between 2019 and 2029. While this is a difficult field to get into, the rewards will be immense once you’re in. Statisticians earn an average salary is $92,270 per year.
To become a statistician, you’ll probably need a traditional college degree, and maybe even an advanced degree. You shouldn’t let this deter you, however, because many of the best schools for statistics and mathematics have online degree options. When you graduate from one of these flexible programs, you should have a lot of great job opportunities waiting for you.
BLS projects that, over the next decade, employment for software developers will grow 22 percent, which is very promising. Software developers earn an impressive average salary of $110,140 per year, and you can become one by joining a coding bootcamp.
Data science bootcamps are becoming much more common. This form of education offers an accelerated way for students over the age of 40 to change careers. It’s a good thing, too, because the field of data science is expected to see 31 percent growth between 2019 and 2029.
The average salary for data scientists is $98,230 per year, according to BLS. With the right combination of education and skills, you can qualify for jobs in computer systems design, technical consulting, scientific research, or insurance.
Network architecture is a challenging but rewarding tech profession with ample opportunity for growth, both professionally and personally. The average network architect makes $116,780 per year, according to BLS. The anticipated job growth from 2019 to 2029 stands at five percent, which is still faster than the projected growth of the whole economy over the same period.
The average salary for management analysts is $87,660 per year, and the profession is expected to grow 11 percent by 2029, according to BLS. To become a business analyst or management analyst, you can join a data analytics bootcamp or get an undergraduate degree.
How to Change Careers at 40
Making a dramatic career change later in life requires diligence. Such discipline will help ensure that the change is as seamless and viable as possible, which is crucial if you’re over 40. Use the following tips, and you’ll have plenty of time to maximize your chances of success.
Evaluate Your Job Satisfaction
Consider whether or not your current career satisfaction is likely to change in the future. It might be possible to reach your career goals in your current position if you look at your situation in new ways.
Assess Your Interests and Skills
Once you are certain that change is necessary, you need to evaluate what skills you have that might be useful in a new field, as well as what skills you may lack. This will help you determine whether there are any limitations to be mindful of as you consider other careers.
Research Other Industries
Once you know what you are capable of, the time will come to explore some of the options that might be available to you. You should start by examining industries and then narrowing the list down to the ones that are most aligned with your skills.
Research Alternative Careers
Try to establish which of your chosen industries have the most potential for growth, and which jobs within those industries interest you most. Find out what the job outlook looks like in your chosen career field, as well as potential salaries and work hours.
Check for Options in Your Current Industry
While there is always the temptation to search elsewhere, don’t ignore opportunities that might be staring you right in the face. Cover your bases by seeing if there’s anything in your current industry that excites you. Familiarity might remove some of the stress that comes with a major change.
Scan Job Boards for the Best Options
Once you have sufficient clarity on what career might be a good fit for you, it is time to start scrolling through various jobs boards to establish what is available. Read the job descriptions as carefully as you can, and use this information to start mapping out what steps you need to take to meet the minimum education and skills requirements.
Do Some Job Shadowing
Once you find a new career that might be of interest, make some phone calls and try to arrange an opportunity to do some job shadowing. This will give you a better sense of the work environment and demands of the job.
Do Some Volunteer Work
If you are still interested after doing some job shadowing, you can try your hand at the work yourself to give it a try in a low-risk setting. Just review your weekly schedule to see where you have some time to spare, and then get down to it.
Upgrade Your Skills
If there’s a gap between your skills and experience and what the job requires, then it would be prudent to seek additional training. This is especially important if you’re interested in something higher than an entry-level position. The best places to upgrade your skills are in college or at a coding, cyber security, or data science bootcamp.
Take an Online Class
When the major educational hurdles are out of the way, you can continue your education through online courses related to your new field. Many massive open online courses (MOOCs) offer certificates of completion that you can add to your CV. If you’re transitioning into a data-oriented career, you should explore the best online data science courses.
Your success at achieving your dream job will hinge heavily on your current industry, your desired career, and the quality of your decision-making process when making the transition.
In some industries, the only real requirement will be that you bolster your existing skills. Sometimes, you will need to top off your skills with a few short courses that can be completed online. However, throughout this stressful process, it is important to remember that it is totally possible to make a career change late in life, and investing in your future is always worth it.