In the words of author George Elliot, “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” This sentiment rings especially true when considering a career change at 40.
The prospect may seem daunting at first, enveloped in fear and excitement. However, this journey promises the allure of self-discovery and the gratification of unlocking unexplored potentials.
So, as you stand at the crossroads of a new career horizon, remember that embracing change is about taking the first step with courage and curiosity. Ready to turn the page to a new career chapter? Keep reading to learn how you can start a new career in your 40s.
A recent study showed that 66% of Millenials, most of whom are already approaching 40, are considering a career change. Various factors may prompt a career change at 40. It could be a quest for better work-life balance, a desire for more financial stability, or simply the pursuit of a passion that has been long sidelined.
Over 82% of people reported successfully making a career switch after age 45. However, transitioning to a new career path in your 40s requires a well-thought-out plan. By assessing your skills, interests, and the market demand, making a career change at 40 can be a rewarding achievement.
The 40s are often considered a time of settled routines and established careers. It’s worth noting that making a career change at 40 can be difficult, requiring a lot of outreach and effort.
However, if you’re sure you want to start new, you have the upper hand in several ways. Here are some aces you have up your sleeve when deciding to start a new career in your 40s:
The transition to a new career in your 40s can be a rewarding endeavor. However, the path may not always be so smooth. Here are some difficulties individuals may encounter during this period:
Venturing into a new career post-40 is an opportunity to blend the wisdom accrued over the years with the zest of embracing new challenges. Here’s how you can strategically navigate this transition:
A comprehensive self-assessment can help align your experience and skills with the opportunities available in your desired field.
For instance, here are some self-assessment tools you can use to provide insight into careers that would be a good fit for you:
The information gained from these assessments can refine your career change strategy. For example, if your assessments highlight strong interpersonal skills, careers in sales, counseling, or human resources might be a good fit.
Capitalize on your established professional networks and LinkedIn to explore new industries and opportunities.
Advance your career by building on existing skills or gaining new ones through online learning platforms.
Create a resume and LinkedIn profile that showcase your readiness for a career shift.
Mentorship and continuous learning are keys to successful career change at 40.
Considering a mid-life career change opens up a realm of new possibilities. This phase of life, coupled with accrued skills and experiences, can serve as a launching pad into new vocations.
Below are some career change ideas at 40:
Average annual salary: $49,700
The work of a real estate agent offers the flexibility of self-employment and the opportunity to leverage your interpersonal skills. The first step on this journey involves immersing yourself in a state-approved real estate education course, followed by conquering a state licensing exam. And if you’re eyeing a competitive edge, consider pursuing additional certifications like the Certified Residential Specialist (CRS).
The real estate market’s dynamics may vary, but with the current trend toward urbanization and property ownership, there’s a steady demand for real estate agents. The overall job outlook for real estate agents has been positive since 2004, and 216,460 new opportunities are expected to open by 2029.
Average annual salary: $41,740
A transition to a personal trainer role not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also provides a chance to connect with and inspire others. Your interpersonal skills are your ally here for building a robust client base. Kickstart this transition by obtaining a certification from a recognized body like the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
To carve a niche for yourself, you might want to specialize in areas like senior fitness, nutrition, or sports performance. This field allows for quick entry post-certification, and the growing health consciousness among individuals ensures a steady clientele. Personal trainers’ employment rates grew by 14% from 2022 to 2023, resulting in more than 45,000 opportunities.
Average annual salary: $52,250
This is where your seasoned communication skills can shine, blending creativity with strategy. A background in marketing or communications could be your stepping stone into social media marketing. Proficiency in social media platforms, SEO, and content creation will truly set you apart. The demand for social media managers is high, given the digital shift in marketing strategies. It’s also a job that you can usually do remotely.
The job outlook for social media managers is promising, with a projected growth rate of 10% from 2018 to 2028, indicating the creation of around 37,000 new jobs over this period.
Average annual salary: $96,285
Nursing is a field that not only offers job stability but also a chance to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. While a Bachelor of Science in Nursing is usually required, individuals looking to enter the field can obtain an Associate’s Degree instead, which typically spans two years and can be a quicker entryway into the profession. Post-education, you have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed nursing practitioner.
Your interpersonal and caregiving skills would be highly valuable here. And the healthcare sector is ever-growing, providing a stable job market for aspiring nurses. The Registered Nursing workforce is expected to grow to 3.3 million in 2031, adding about 200,000 nurses to the industry.
Average annual salary: $57,887
If making a difference rings a bell, steering towards becoming a nonprofit manager could be your next stop. A background in public administration, social work, or a related field could be beneficial. The crux, however, lies in harnessing strong leadership, fundraising, and grant-writing skills. The nonprofit sector is continually in need of dedicated individuals ready to make a difference, making this a viable option for a mid-life career change.
It’s not uncommon to hear about people who reached a turning point in their 40s, prompting a momentous career change. Here are some individuals who successfully navigated a career change in their 40s:
Vera Wang was initially a figure skater who then became a journalist at Vogue when her creative inclinations took a significant turn at 40.
The pivot was sparked while designing her own wedding gown, leading her to open a bridal boutique. With time, Wang launched her fashion line, transitioning into a celebrated fashion designer. By pragmatically leveraging her skills and contacts, Vera Wang serves as a renowned example of a well-planned career transition.
Joel Greenwald’s story is a perfect example of the harmonization of personal and professional life. Initially a physician in internal medicine, the demanding hours started clashing with his and his wife’s aspiration for family time, especially with three young children.
At 36, Joel forayed into financial planning courses while still practicing medicine. By 40, he transitioned full-time, now advising doctors and dentists on financial planning. With more flexible hours, transitioning to financial planning improved Joel’s work-life balance, aligning better with his family aspirations. Joel appreciates the symmetry between his past and present professions, stating, “It’s incredibly similar to being a physician; after health, finance is probably the second most important.”
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most commonly asked questions about a career change at 40:
No, 40 is not too late for a career change. More than 21% of all employees transition to new careers in their 40s and beyond, finding satisfaction and success in new fields.
A career change at 40 can lead to enhanced job satisfaction, better work-life balance, financial growth, and new learning opportunities, making it a worthwhile endeavor.
Begin by identifying transferable skills from your previous experiences that are valued in the desired field. Acquire industry certifications and networks to build connections that can lead to job opportunities. Opt for entry-level roles or internships that require minimal qualifications to gain a foothold in the new domain.
Conduct informational interviews to learn about the necessary skills and qualifications for your desired field. Transition smoothly by engaging in targeted training or coursework to build a solid knowledge foundation.
Elevate your transition by seeking the mentorship of seasoned professionals within the industry whose guidance can be valuable. Additionally, identifying and showcasing the transferable skills from your previous job can make your career shift more attainable.
Some good options include a real estate agent, personal trainer, social media manager, healthcare fields like nursing or medical coding, and positions in the nonprofit sector. The best job for a mid-life career change would align with an individual’s interests, skills, and the demand in the job market.
Starting a new career at 40 is less about starting over and more about building on the life experience you’ve already acquired. It’s a bold invitation to mesh your seasoned skills with newfound passions, opening doors to exhilarating opportunities and growth.
Remember, the horizon of fresh careers is vast and welcoming, ready to embrace those daring to step towards a fulfilling encore.