Your career makes up a huge chunk of your life. It’s important to spend that time in ways you find rewarding and fulfilling. If you’ve endured years — or even decades — feeling dissatisfied, frustrated, restless, or unmotivated in your career path, it could be time to contemplate a midlife career change.
Starting a new career from scratch can be daunting, but the rewards are often worth the challenge. For a successful midlife career change, you need to think about your work experience, goals, values and life situation.
Starting a new career at 35, 40, or 50 is a big step. If you’ve already established a successful career with years of experience, you might be hesitant to chart a new course. It’s important to think carefully about whether a midlife career transition is the best choice for you. Look for these signs that you should change your career path midlife.
If you feel a lack of passion for your work, you are far from alone. Studies have shown that about one in six people between the ages of 35 and 54 are unhappy at work. Only a third of Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers say they’re fully engaged at work. Meanwhile, about half are considered not engaged, and 20 percent are actively disengaged.
Constantly feeling disengaged, unfulfilled or dissatisfied at work could be an indication that it’s time to think about starting a new career. While most people go through occasional stretches of disillusionment at work, the feeling shouldn’t be unrelenting.
Perhaps you like your job just fine -- but something is missing. You feel like your work has little impact, or its mission isn’t furthering the things that are important to you. As much as your aptitude and abilities, your values should play a role in choosing your career path.
Feeling a sense of purpose is one of the most important factors in work satisfaction. If you can’t find a way to gain that sense of meaning in your current career path, consider what other job opportunities can.
Some degree of stress is a normal part of a job. But it’s another thing when the stress reaches a point where it negatively impacts your mental health, personal life, or ability to complete your duties. An excessively stressful job might be the result of a toxic work environment, poor company procedures or a particularly busy stretch. In those cases, you might be able to solve the problem with a change of scenery or a different role.
But if your stressors are inherent to the field or the kind of work you do, ask yourself whether the anxiety and pressure are worth the value you see in your work. If you are frequently dealing with burnout at work, it might be time for a change in career.
Perhaps you once found satisfaction in your career, but the magic is gone. You reached your professional goals in your current field long ago and now are left searching for the next chapter. A new career path could help you reinvest in your working life once again. It’s important not to assume a new career will magically solve your problems, but it can help you get excited about coming into the office.
Do you have talents and abilities that are lying fallow? If you don’t see opportunities in your current path to make the most of them, a new career might give you the chance to break them out of retirement. Perhaps the situation is even more extreme -- you have a long-held dream that you’ve always put off. You’re reaching the point in your career where you feel like it’s now or never. In the back of your mind, you know that you’ll have regrets if you never give it a try.
On their own, these “what ifs” might not be enough of a reason to swerve off your current career trajectory. If you’re happy, satisfied with your job, and earning a stable living, it might be best to explore other pursuits as hobbies or a part-time side hustle. But if you are otherwise dissatisfied with your position, untapped potential can give you focus and encouragement to chart a new course.
The average worker changes jobs about 11 times in their life. A study by Robert Half found that 59 percent of workers 35 to 54 believe job hopping is beneficial.
However, a job change is different than a career transition. A job change might only involve switching roles or companies, while a midlife career change requires reevaluating your whole path. You shouldn’t do it on a lark. For such a drastic life change, it’s important to have confidence that the timing is right.
How do you know if you’re ready to embark on a new career path? The list below outlines some things you can do to prepare yourself for the leap. None of these are necessary -- but if you’re looking to reassure yourself that you’re making the right decision, think of this as due diligence.
If you’ve decided to take the plunge into a brand new career after years of experience in another field, where do you start? Before diving headfirst into a tumultuous, competitive job market, put together a plan that will help you get what you want out of this change. Job searching is challenging for people starting a new career from scratch, so it’s best to be prepared and driven.
Choosing a new career is hard enough when all your peers are also figuring out their paths. When you’re charting a new course all on your own, it’s easy to feel at a loss of where to start. Try these strategies for picking a new career after a midlife change.
If you know that you want a career change but have no idea where to start, there are tools you can use to help make a decision. Different organizations, psychologists and career coaches have developed personality quizzes and aptitude tests that can be useful in determining the right career path for you. These tests offer insights into your strengths, weaknesses and other traits that can help you identify a good fit.
If you’re venturing into the unknown territory of a midlife career change, it’s useful to have someone well-versed in the world of career changes to help guide you. Consider hiring a career coach.
These professionals have dedicated themselves to learn the best practices for navigating a career change. They cover everything from choosing a career, preparing a resume, interviewing, networking and more. A career coach can offer advice, counsel and support if you’re hitting the reset button on your career. Here are some situations where a career coach can come in handy.
Remember to be patient. As with any counselor, you can’t expect instant results from hiring a career coach. Even if the guidance is good, the results will ultimately come down to your own efforts -- plus a little bit of timing and luck.
However, that’s not to say any career coach is necessarily worth the investment. Be sure to look at their experience and qualifications, and don’t hesitate to ask for references. A great career coach will be able to describe in detail how their work leads to results. Clearheaded advice isn’t enough -- you should expect a real plan. Career coaches don’t come cheap, and you want to be sure your dollar will go far.
When you make a midlife career change, you need to be thinking long-term. So when it comes to deciding on a career path, don’t just think about what you’d like to be doing right now. Think hard about what your end-game is, and then trace back the steps that it would take to get there.
Nothing beats the first-hand experience. If you know of anyone who has made a successful midlife career change -- especially if they entered your chosen field -- be sure to reach out for their advice. They can provide insight into the process of redefining yourself in a new career, networking as a mid-career person in a new field.
Beyond basic advice like getting your resume seen and acing interviews, those who have lived a career transition can speak to how they ultimately made the decision, how they managed doubts and anxiety, and how they dealt with the aimlessness that often comes with starting anew.
Even if you’re an ambitious self-starter, don’t think you necessarily need to carve out a brand new career path from scratch. Look to others who have reached goals like those you have in mind. See the steps they took to get where they are today. These could be people you know personally or just role models in your chosen field.
Your own path doesn’t have to -- and almost certainly won’t -- follow the same route. But having a model to follow will give you guidance during a confusing time.
If you’re not certain you want to take the risk of a career transition in your 30s, 40s, or 50s, it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a midlife career change. Laying out the pros and cons can offer clarity into the best decision for you.
The right job for you after a midlife career change depends on a number of factors, including your personal preferences, ambitions, experience and transferable skills. Deciding the best match will vary drastically from person to person. But if you’re at a loss about where to start in your midlife job search, two important factors to consider are pay and future opportunity.
To find a great opportunity for your midlife career change, consider pursuing the jobs with the highest projected growth rate with high salaries, Here are all of the jobs projected to have “faster than average” growth from now until 2026, at least 50,000 new jobs, and a median salary of at least $75,000, according The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
A financial manager oversees an organization’s finances and plans for its long-term fiscal future. Many have past experience as an accountant, auditor, or financial analyst.
Postsecondary teachers are responsible for educating students past high school, at institutions such as universities, junior colleges, technical and trade schools and elsewhere.
These workers handle the administration of a medical facility or department. These jobs might also be referred to as healthcare executives or administrators.
Nurse practitioners are healthcare workers who are able to coordinate care, interpret tests, diagnose patients, and handle other healthcare duties beyond the scope of registered nurses.
Physical therapists (PTs) help to rehabilitate people dealing with injuries or other physical impairments. Patients rely on PTs to cope with chronic issues and recovery.
Software developers conceive of, design and create computer programs.
If you are considering a new career, logistics presents ample opportunities. Logisticians are involved in moving items along a supply chain. They develop, enact and coordinate the processes that allow companies to get their products to consumers or other companies as efficiently as possible.
The opportunities for logisticians are growing at about the same rate as the United States job market at large. The growth of e-commerce has made successful logistics more important to companies than ever before. To stay competitive with businesses like Amazon, businesses are rethinking the way they operate their supply chains.
If you pursue a job as a logistician, this is what you can expect:
Are you changing careers because you want to make more money fast? Here’s the hard reality: If there were an easy, surefire way to make a lot of money, everyone would do it. Jobs usually pay well if they require specialized skills that are in high demand, or if the role otherwise produces revenue for an organization. The competitive job market means that “easy” careers are brimming with workers willing to do the work -- so companies don’t have to pay as much for a good candidate.
If you want to make more money through a career change, expect to put some work into it. For most people -- those not born to advantages or connections -- no one is handing you a great-paying job unless you’ve shown you deserve it.
All that said, the two fastest-growing occupations with the best job outlook don’t require advanced degrees. If you are looking for a promising career opportunity with lots of openings and a relatively low barrier of entry, consider becoming a solar photovoltaic installer of wind turbine service technician.
The fastest growing occupation in the United States is a solar photovoltaic installer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These workers install solar panels onto homes and other buildings. The number of jobs is expected to more than double between 2016 and 2026. The median salary is $42,680 per year.
The role requires a high school diploma or equivalent, so changing to this career does not require specialized knowledge. However, training courses at community colleges or technical schools will give job seekers a leg up in this area. New employees can also expect on-the-job training.
Wind turbine technicians fall just behind solar panel installers in the list of fastest-growing jobs. The number of jobs is expected to nearly double between 2016 and 2026. The median salary is $54,370 a year.
To get this job, job seekers will need to learn the trade at a technical school and receive on-the-job training.
If you are eager for a new opportunity, you might be vulnerable to false promises. It’s important to be on your guard of anyone assuring an easy path to success and high pay.
For-profit colleges, for example, tout classes in growing fields. But in many cases, these schools lack the proper accreditations that make degrees and certifications valuable on the job market.
Similarly, multi-level marketing programs dangle the promise of working on your own schedule and being your own boss while making money. But often, they require your own investment and lead to dubious results. The company is usually the only ones making money, leaving hopeful entrepreneurs with the bill.
Computer programming jobs might not be as plentiful as you expect. In recent times, those stuck in a career rut are often told to “learn to code.” Computer programming is seen as a promising career path. However, projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tell a more complicated story about finding a job as a computer programmer.
The BLS job outlook estimates that the computer programming opportunities will actually decline by 7 percent in the United States between 2016 and 2026. That’s a loss of about 21,300 jobs. As the BLS explains, computer programming can be done anywhere, and companies are increasingly outsourcing these responsibilities to other countries. This shouldn’t necessarily dissuade you from taking up computer programming, but you should be aware of the high level of competition.
That’s not to say that opportunities aren’t plentiful in the world computer programs and applications. Those interested in this field for their midlife career change might be better off pursuing opportunities in web development, software development or computer systems analysis. All three are expected to see thousands of new job opportunities by 2026.