If you’re looking to make a career change at 40 years old, you’re better positioned to make a major career shift than you may think. You’ve built up a wealth of knowledge and transferable skills that will have employers champing at the bit.
Starting a new career later in life is the norm, not the exception. The average American changes careers five to seven times over the course of their life. Before we dive into how to change careers, let’s take a look at a few reasons why you might want to start a new one in the first place.
Reasons to Change Careers at 40
Before you make any life-altering decisions, let’s take a look at some of the common reasons why people shift professions later in life:
- Money: Finding a higher-paying career is a common goal for older job seekers. At 40, you likely have more responsibilities and fixed monthly expenses than you did at any other point in your life. Vacation, hobbies, and supporting your family are all constant expenses, and at the same time you have to think about saving for retirement, making your monthly mortgage payments, and saving for your child’s 529 college plan.
- Greater flexibility: Flexible work hours can provide a lot of value for the right person. Unfortunately, not all career paths accommodate flexible schedules.
- New interests: Our interests grow as we do. At 40, you probably don’t hold the same values that you did at 20. It’s common for people to want to give back to their communities with a mid-career shift to teaching or social work or maybe you’ve recently discovered an affinity for coding that has you exploring a new career path as a software engineer.
Being unhappy with your manager is not necessarily a good reason to change careers, though. If your boss displays signs of a bad manager, don’t take those bad-manager traits as a signal to move into an entirely different field. If your boss is micromanaging your decisions or not respecting your boundaries, for example, consider looking for a new opportunity within your current field rather than changing careers altogether.
Challenges of a Midlife Career Change
Starting a new career is easier than you think, but be mindful of the common roadblocks that accompany a midlife career shift. Branching out into a new area can be expensive, in terms of both the salary reduction you may experience when taking on an entry-level job and the cost of educating yourself for your new role.
If you have a family, that likely means having less time to burn the midnight oil as you get yourself up to speed on your new job. What can you do? Take a deep breath. The next section contains a game plan to help you get the most out of your previous career.
How to Make the Most of Your Previous Career
Make a list of the skills that you’ll need to succeed in your new career path. Then create a second list of all the skills you’ve acquired to date. Put the two lists side by side and look at what crosses over. Common transferable skills include teamwork, effective communication, analysis, collaboration, and leadership.
Make the most of your current organization
Starting a new career doesn’t have to mean starting over. Many organizations allow their employees to apply for internal transfers to other departments. If you’ve already built up a reputation as a diligent worker, your current employer will probably be happy to give you an opportunity to train in a different section of the business rather than lose you to a competitor.
Don’t let your dream career be just a dream. Making a career change at 40 doesn’t have to be difficult. Kick-start your new career with Pathrise. Pathrise accelerates careers for working professionals of all ages by helping them land great jobs. Apply to become a Pathrise fellow and get paired with an experienced mentor today!