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How to Change Careers In Your 40s and Be More Fulfilled

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Career Hub
Pivoting Careers
Nov 4, 2021
Jul 22, 2022

How to Change Careers In Your 40s and Be More Fulfilled

Dave Fano

Changing careers in your 40s can be intimidating, but don't worry: we have the best tips to guide you on making your decision.

An average person works 12 jobs during their lifetime. Colonel Sanders started KFC at the age of 62. Sam Walton opened the first Walmart in 1962 at the age of 44 years old. 

Your current situation may feel like Groundhog day and you want to do something about it. 

According to the Indeed report on career changes based on a survey of 662 full-time employees (different industries/education levels) in the USA, 49% adopted a career change. 

Read on for more information about changing careers in your 40s.

Tips On How to Change Careers In Your 40s

You may want to speak to a career coach who can guide you. You can also research switching online (or keep reading this blog post!)

Consider the following: 

#1. Know Your Reasoning

If you decide to change your career, bear in mind that it will be a huge change. You have to be sure of your reasoning! 

There could be a number of reasons that may cause you to pivot your career and find a new job such as:

You may want to achieve work-life balance or simply it’s time to follow your passion. At a younger age, you may opt for entry-level jobs, but with years of experience and transferable skills, you can have an edge and typically start at a higher level than a fresh college graduate.

It’s possible that you may be changing your career because of financial stress, but you have to see other aspects too. For example, make sure the new career you choose will not have too crazy of a workload because the higher pay may not be worth it.

#2. Research The Market Thoroughly 

Watch out for the industry trends and see what you need to study in order to progress your career. See what hiring managers are looking for in a potential candidate. 

Research the options available for a midlife career. Check whether there are part-time jobs or full-time jobs. Learn to write the cover letters for the jobs that explain how some or all of your skills are transferable.

The career changers or “pivoters” need to stay motivated on the new career path. You may see thousands of ads that aren’t quite what you’re looking for in your new role. You have to see what’s the most viable option for you, your skills, interests, and stage of your life.

#3. Get Everyone On Board

By everyone, it means your direct family. It can impact your spouse, children, and anyone else in your inner circle. Changing a career is not everyone’s cup of tea and could cause undue stress to those around you. The transition can be smooth if everyone is on board with you. 

Your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and even distant relatives may advise you not to change your career. However, it’s your life so you get to decide what’s best for you. If you’re going to spend a third of your life working, it’s best to be in a role that makes you feel fulfilled.

People will discourage you from trying something new and going into the unknown. It’s possible that they could be the wrong people to ask and they may have never experienced something similar. Ask someone who was able to make the career shift in their ’40s or ‘50s and was successful. 

You have to assess your current situation. You have to see why you want a career change and if your intentions are solid, then your loved ones will hopefully be on board for this ride.

#4. Overcome The Fear

You may not want to change your career because of the fear it entails. The fear of financial stress may limit your dreams. 

Always Make a plan B. Never leave your career without a plan. In fact, you should always have a plan B. If something doesn’t work the way it should then you will have a backup plan to fall back on.

Set new goals to overcome the fear.  Making progress towards a big shift and feeling accomplished will help you keep your confidence up until you find the perfect new career.

Believe in yourself! A career change is a big move. Before everyone else, you need to believe in yourself. Visualize in your mind that you can do it. 

#5. Other Important Tips 

  • Career Test: You may take a career test and see what fits your new goals. You can try Teal’s Work Styles test which will give you a good idea of how you work.
  • Use Your Transferable Skills: These are the skills that you have acquired while working on one job over the years. They may include soft skills such as communication, leadership, conflict-resolution, creativity, and more.
  • Focus On Emergency Fund: Save an emergency fund before switching your career. If changing your career takes longer than anticipated, you’ll rest easier knowing that you have money set aside to support you and possibly your family.
  • Take Advantage of Your Network: Over the years, you’ve built a professional network. Now is the time to take advantage of it. If you are interested in a new career, someone from your network may introduce you to the right person or company. Asking for informational interviews with someone in your network is always a good idea.
  • Research the Market: See if your desired career path has job openings that would suit you. Get accustomed to any industry-specific jargon and topical subjects so you can be knowledgeable in interviews.

Best Careers to Pivot to:

Some of the best careers to change to later in your career:

Veterinary Technician: With a 2-year program, you can become a veterinary technician. You can easily search for programs to become one. If you are fond of animals and want to spend the last part of your career in a different profession, a veterinarian technician could be a great fit.

Writer: You can become a writer and use your knowledge and experience to write a book. What you have learned over the years can help others. Your book can become a source of inspiration for others. 

Online Tutor: You can also become an online tutor. There are many teaching jobs available online. If you love teaching, you may want to switch your career and become a teacher for the world. 

Retail: You can go into retail. This is a great opportunity if you are a people person and want to be more present in your community.

Administrative Assistant: If you know how to do a variety of tasks in one go and are highly organized, you can opt for an administrative assistant path. There are thousands of jobs available for this role, so getting hired won’t be too difficult especially if you’ve worked in an office previously.

Business Consultant: You can become a business consultant especially if you have spent enough time in the business world and you have the experience to guide others. 

Event Planner: You can also become an event planner. Let’s say everyone in the family is fond of your hosting style. Why not consider it a second career? 

Translator: You can become a translator especially if you are bilingual. Take advantage of the languages you know. It can be your second career to serve as a translator. 

Life Coach: You can even become a life coach especially if you have a story to share. There are a lot of issues that can hold people back from realizing their full potential and that’s where a life coach can help. 

There are plenty of other roles out there: you’ll know best what the best option is for you.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What to Keep In Mind When Changing Career in Your 40s:

  • It’s wise if you test the waters before diving into a brand new industry. To do so, you can work part-time or explore the new industry by doing thorough research of it. 
  • See what current skills can help in the new career. For example, if you are an English teacher, you can become a writer more easily than a scientist. You can write about your life experience in a book. Or you can write a book that can tell parents how to cooperate with teachers to develop better life skills in your children. 
  • Focus on the resume. See if you need to do some volunteer work to gain experience in the new field. 
  • A career coach can help you understand what to expect with the big move and help guide you through every step in the transition.
  • Gather as much information as you can and see what possibilities there are.
  • You can also start a side business and see if it works for you before making the full switch. 

Why are Americans changing careers in their 40s and 50s?

There are a number of reasons why people change careers in their 40s, 50s, or even further along. For example, it’s possible that you’ve grown tired of your day-to-day in your current role. You also may be in an industry that’s been affected by globalization and other external factors so you need a new job. Perhaps you just need to shake things up. 

Do you feel constantly worn out, depleted, and exhausted working in your current career?

A career change at the age of 40 may sound a little risky. You are likely settled in your career and have possibly made it far up the career ladder. Not everyone is willing to start from scratch and not many people have the stamina to take this path. However, if your current career is making you feel worn out, depleted, and exhausted then maybe it’s time for a change.  

Could you be Making a Greater Impact?

Yes, your transferable skills, for example, communication skills, leadership, teamwork, etc. can be used in a more impactful way in another career. 

What's Holding You Back from Making a Career Change?

You could be a mom who always dreamt of an awesome career. It was doable, but with kids life kind of slipped away. You never got the time to do anything for yourself. Finally, it’s time to build your own career. Whatever the reason is, think about it and figure out if it’s a good enough reason to hold you back or if you can overcome it and make the change.

When is it Too Late to Change Careers?

It’s never too late! It’s also possible that you may think more about what you want the rest of your working years to look like. There are some unfulfilled dreams like the unanswered calls. They are waiting for you with longing eyes hoping you will take action someday. 

What's Good About Making a Career Change?

You may be looking for new challenges to motivate you and fulfill you. You already know enough about one career so it’s time to focus on another. 

You have the following perks; 

  • Years of experience
  • Better confidence (you know how to manage conflict, deal with people, etc)
  • Transferable skills

What Makes It Difficult?

You may have a family who depends on you. You could be the breadwinner of the house. With all such responsibilities, a career change can be hard unless you are sure about the new move.

You may not have the required skills. It may take some time to polish the skills for the new role. There will be new trends in the new career. You need to keep pace with the fast-changing world. 

Final Words 

It will be hard to switch careers for some people. Gone are the days when people would stick to just one career. Nowadays, it’s much more common for people to pivot careers. It’s possible that age 40 is the age of wisdom for you. Suddenly, you may want to change your career. You have always dreamt to be a writer and maybe now it’s time to take action. 

Some people may still argue that career change isn’t possible. Well if that’s the case, today you may change their mind!

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Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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