Is it too late to change career at 40? (or 50…?)

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change

Feb 28
Women considering career change at 40

“Is it too late to change career at 40?” “Am I too old to start a new career at 50?” You may have asked yourself this kind of question. It’s one I hear quite often. And my answer is “No, it’s definitely not too late”.

There are many options open to you at 40 and beyond. And often the barriers to making a change are internal rather than external. It helps if you focus on what you CAN offer, and regard your age as an advantage rather than a drawback.

Mid-life experience

You reach mid-life with a wealth of experience. You are have more understanding of the world. You may also have more self-knowledge than earlier in life. This doesn’t mean that career change is easy. Like anything worthwhile it may require tenacity, focus and resilience to make a shift. But this is true at any age!

What can you bring with you from your work (and life) experience into a new career? Do take the time to review your own skills, strengths and interest, and reflect on what you would really like to be doing. And take time to research the options available to you.

Here are some viable mid-life career change options.

Consultancy

Consultancy can be a good choice if you have some specific expertise and enjoy the field you are in. It can offer you more control over your working life. Your current employer may be willing to offer you some work on a freelance basis. This can help you get started. Generally you will need to find other clients too, so your employer doesn’t fall foul of employment legislation. You may like to contact other companies in your field, or sign up for consultancy opportunities on a job board like Indeed.

A sideways move

If you would rather stay in employment, but want a change, consider a sideways move. You might like to take your transferable skills into a new sector. Or build on an established track record in your current sector but look at changing your job role. For example, you could take sales skills from a commercial environment and move into a fundraising role with a charity.

Start a business

Cup of coffeeHave you always wanted to run a café, run a drama club, design curtains…?  Starting your own business can offer you control over your future. It’s not for the faint hearted, and if you’ve always been employed there will be a learning curve. But it can be exhilarating and rewarding.

There are various routes you can take. For example: you can go it alone, find a business partner, or buy into an established business model through a franchise. It’s essential to undertake research in the early stages to establish if there’s actually a market for your business idea.

Portfolio career

portfolio career is where you have two or more jobs or businesses giving you strands of income. This approach can be a ongoing way of working, or it can offer a way into a career change. A part-time job in your current line of work can free up time to explore other options whilst bringing in an income.

For example you might work three days a week, and spend two days studying for a new qualification, or building up a small business on the side.

Volunteer

VolunteerVolunteering is another way to gain helpful experience, in return for your time. This can fit in with a portfolio career approach, a sideways move or even a complete change. By giving your time on a trustee board you could get experience of leadership and governance. By running workshops for young people, you could gain experience and find out if you would like to work in this field. Voluntary work can also help grow your network and build confidence. Find volunteer opportunities on Do-It.org

Retrain

There have never been more opportunities to retrain, without having to go back to full-time study. Apprenticeships are being given a particular push by government at the moment, and they are not just for the young. And there are job shortages in certain sectors such as nursing which means that age isn’t a barrier to finding a job after retraining.

Thinking about a career change? Please get in touch if you’d like some help with clarifying your next steps.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

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About the Author

Felicity is a career coach. She help people who want to change career, start a freelance business, or build their confidence. Felicity writes about career and business development, leadership and personal effectiveness.

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(2) comments

Mike Clayton a few months ago

‘If you snooze, you loose’, is what my daughter tells me when we’re playing games.

If you get stuck in a role that doesn’t really suit you, you will lose. You need to wake up and decide what you ant to be doing for the next stage of your life. Looking back, I’ve made big shifts after 6, 11, 7, and 7 years. That is, of course with the benefit of hindsight.

But what was a positive choice was to pursue something new that excited me. And that led to the shift that I can now observe. So no, it’s not too late to change your career at 40, 50, 60, or 70. In fact, it’s just the right time. If you’ve read the article through and bothered with the comments, then deep down, you probably know you are due a change.

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    Felicity Dwyer a few months ago

    So true Mike. I find when people are ready for a change they often know it inside. Sometimes the risk of leaving the familiar seems scary, but if you really think about it, there is a big risk of staying put and stagnating. And sometimes, staying put is the right thing to do for now, but with a plan in mind for the future so it becomes a positive choice.

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