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  1. Career Advice
  2. Career Change
  3. Make the change! We show you the best careers for a midlife change
Flower with feet and two lemons with feet

Make the change! We show you the best careers for a midlife change

Artwork by: Kate October

  • Average annual salaries for listed careers
  • Best careers for midlife change: nine optimal choices
  • Key takeaways

If you’re tired of your old career and want to try something new, there are a wide variety of fresh options to consider. We’ve highlighted some that can pay well and have few barriers to entry.

If you’re nearing the mid-point of your life and are dissatisfied with your current career, shifting to a new occupation may feel impossible. 

In reality, though, there are many rewarding modern careers offering generous average salaries and lack of specific educational requirements. These are particularly good picks for people seeking a change because you can pursue them regardless of your background or work history.

This article will cover optimal careers for a midlife change, their salaries, and related information, specifically:

  • Average salaries for listed careers

  • Nine optimal midlife career change choices

    • Teacher/Tutor

    • Data Scientist

    • Software Engineer

    • Medical Billing And Coding Specialist

    • Social Media Director

    • Marketing Manager

    • HR Recruiter/Manager

    • Project Manager

    • Technical Writer

Average annual salaries for listed careers

- Teacher/Tutor: $65,090/$44,536

- Data Scientist: $97,159

- Software Engineer: $88,509

- Medical Billing And Coding Specialist: $55,696

- Social Media Director:  $76,919

- Marketing Manager: $67,688

- HR Recruiter/Manager: $69,540

- Project Manager: $100,171

- Technical Writer: $61,715

Best careers for midlife change: nine optimal choices

1. Teachers and tutors can share hard-earned work lessons

The saying “Those that can, do; those that can’t, teach” implies that teachers are less important than business professionals…and nothing could be further from the truth! Teaching and tutoring are challenging tasks in their own right, and well-organized and insightful teachers play an important role in helping young employees excel at their future workplaces. If you’re a professional who’s unsatisfied with your current workplace, a career change to education might just let you apply your hard-earned experiences in new, more rewarding ways.

If you’re interested in pursuing an open teacher or tutoring position (potentially after taking a year off work to focus on your future career), start by checking the qualification requirements listed on the job’s page. Some teaching positions may require a Master’s Degree, PhD, or Doctorate, but others may just require a Bachelor’s Degree of some kind. Depending on your state and country of residence, you may need to take a certification course or apply for a license in order to teach students in a classroom environment. 

The ideal midlife educational career may well be a teaching position where you coach students about the skills and knowledge needed to work in your previous industry and/or specific job. By drawing on your own expertise, you can be a true mentor for students following in your footsteps, showing them how to surpass your successes and avoid your past mistakes.

Expert Tip

The following teaching and tutoring positions, whether at a school, a college, or an agency, have fairly low requirements aside from a Bachelor’s degree of some kind.

  • English as a Second Language Teacher/Tutor

  • Academic Tutor

  • Substitute Teacher

  • Teaching Assistant

  • Early Education Teacher

2. Data scientist careers can take many shapes and forms

Few data scientist positions are exactly the same when it comes to their responsibilities; this is one reason why careers in data science are surprisingly accessible to business professionals looking for a change.

Fundamentally, data scientists are responsible for collecting, cataloging, and analyzing data for their business, identifying trends and patterns the company can use to thrive. Depending on the specific job, a data scientist might also design new databases, predictive models, machine learning algorithms, or procedures for data collection. Nearly every data scientist, however, should be skilled at analyzing information and communicating their findings to colleagues in clear terms.

Some data scientist job openings require a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field - computer engineering, math, statistics, etc. Other data scientist openings have less stringent requirements, valuing an employee’s practical knowledge more than their educational background. You can qualify for these positions by enrolling in certification courses or boot camps that teach you the software skills and analytic approaches these data scientist roles require.

Statistical Insight

A recent AARP article states that 78% of workers will change jobs at least once in their lifetime. The first change happens on average at age 31 and the second on average at age 39. Reasons for change include discovering new passions or pursuing a greater sense of job satisfaction. 

According to the website Apollo Technical, 39% of college students are now 25 or older. Of these, 58% work while in school and 26% are raising families. Additionally, 29% of people have completely changed fields since taking their first job after college.

3. Qualify for certain software engineer positions by taking coding bootcamps

Software engineer positions can also be very diverse in terms of their core responsibilities. Some software engineers focus on developing new applications for computers or phones. Others focus on testing and debugging pre-existing software. The common thread between each software engineer position is coding: a working knowledge of a programming language such as Java, Python, C++, or Rust.

(Languages like HTML or SQL tend to be used more often for website design, database management, or a blending of the two).

Many software engineer job openings list a computer science Bachelor’s Degree as a key requirement on their job page. Certain junior or entry level software engineer jobs, however, prioritize knowledge of a specific programming language over a general-purpose CompSci degree. 

By attending certain online/in-person courses and bootcamps, you can meet the requirements for computer engineer job openings that require experience with specific languages and more general skills such as analytics, communication, and a commitment to excellence.

4. Medical billing and coding specialists are in-demand within the healthcare industry

If you have a background in careers with bookkeeping, phone communication, or invoicing, you’d likely thrive while working as a medical billing and coding specialist. 

Medical billing/coding specialists are essential employees for the day-to-day function of modern hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Most of the time, their main responsibility is processing payments for the medical services doctors and clinical staff provide to patients. 

On the financial side of things, medical billing and coding specialists prepare, revise, and send out invoices and claims to patients/insurance companies. The “coding” part of the medical billing/coding specialist job title doesn’t refer to computer programming but instead describes the process of making industry-standard code numbers that record information about medical visits, patient symptoms, tests, procedures, diagnoses, treatments, etc.

Unlike other hospital positions, most medical billing and coding specialist jobs only require applicants to have a bachelor's degree of some kind. If you’re interested in working as a medical billing and coding specialist, you may want to take certification courses for key skills such as Health Information Administration while also preparing yourself to take coding tests as part of the job application.

5. Social media director positions are great for outgoing professionals

Social media directors or social media managers, as their titles suggest, are often put in charge of a company’s social media profiles and asked to create strategies for promoting their business’s brand. These sorts of positions pair well with professionals who have strong verbal/written communication skills, know how to analyze social media metrics, and are able to create and reliably uphold schedules for posting new social media content.

Besides the skills listed above, companies with social media director openings often seek employees with prior experience promoting organizations on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Certain positions may also be looking for directors/managers with a Bachelor’s Degree in marketing, communications, etc. Lastly, many hiring managers want prospective social media directors with the creative writing and highlightable decision-making skills needed to make good social media content and create content guidelines for team members to follow.

6. Marketing manager positions are open to professionals from different backgrounds

Compared to the other jobs listed above, the position of marketing manager is particularly  accessible for mid-life professionals interested in a career change. To start with, there are many prior business professions that can qualify you to take on the responsibilities of a marketing manager such as: 

  • Public Relations

  • Sales/Promotion

  • Advertising

  • Research/Development

  • Client/Customer Service Representatives

If you come from these or similar backgrounds, you can easily present yourself as a valuable candidate for a marketing manager job opening. This is particularly true when you have a relevant bachelor’s degree (though not all marketing manager positions strictly require this) and one or more of these qualities:

  • Leadership skills

  • Organizational skills

  • Time management skills

  • Analytical skills

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Communication skills

If you successfully transition from your old career to a new career as a marketing manager, you can expect to be responsible for the following:

  • Planning/implementing market strategies

  • Launching new marketing campaigns

  • Coordinating team efforts

  • Managing budgets

  • Building connections with clients/customers/colleagues

  • Writing/editing copy for marketing

7. With enough professional experience, you can thrive in HR manager positions

If you have people skills honed by your old job, you’d likely make a good HR (Human Resources) manager. Companies are always on the look-out for new HR managers, so you’ll never run short of job openings to apply to. Depending on the circumstances, you might even be able to transfer to an HR job within the same company you currently work at.

The chief tasks of an HR manager vary depending on the size of the company, the number of employees, and their rate of growth. Some HR managers may only be responsible for interviewing and recruiting new employees. Others might focus on training new employees and evaluating them through performance reviews. Still others might be charged with making sure key regulations and rules are followed in regards to topics such as:

  • Resolving conflicts between fellow employees

  • Mediating conflicts between employees and management

  • Upholding rules and regulations pertaining to taxes, worker’s rights, etc.

  • Upholding rules and regulations designed to safeguard workplace diversity/inclusiveness

Even if you don’t have a bachelor’s in human resources or business management, you can still be a good hiring manager candidate if you highlight a college degree related to the art of interpersonal communication (psychology, education, etc). If empath-friendly careers were a good fit for you in the past, try mentioning these skills in your professional resume or hiring manager job application form:

  • Data management

  • Payroll analysis/processing

  • Organizing morale-building exercises

  • Career counseling

  • Customer service

8. Project managers can be responsible for many different tasks

A project manager, true to their job’s title, manages projects assigned to them by a company, guiding their team and coordinating their efforts to accomplish individual goals and meet milestones. The types of projects these sorts of managers handle vary from company to company; because of this, business professionals seeking a midlife career change can almost always find a project manager job opening they qualify for.

Many project manager job openings require applicants to have a Bachelor’s Degree. The more relevant the degree field (business, engineering, marketing, psychology, etc.), the more excited hiring managers will be. Depending on the projects they need help with, recruiters for project manager positions will be on the lookout for professionals with practical experience in:

  • Computer programming

  • Marketing campaigns

  • Product design

  • Engineering

  • Contract negotiations

  • Analysis/problem solving

  • Slideshow presentations

9. Technical writers are in demand among technology, science, and manufacturing businesses 

There are two key qualities you need if you’re interested in changing careers and working as a technical writer. First, you need to have a strong background in written and verbal interpersonal communication skills. (Many businesses seek out professionals with a bachelor’s degree in English, creative writing, journalism, etc.). Second, you need to have extensive knowledge of the technical field you’re expected to write about, whether through personal research or first-hand experience in a past  job.

Technical writers are in high demand among industry-type businesses centered around fields such as science, engineering, manufacturing, computers, or healthcare. As part of their regular responsibilities, technical writers are often asked to draft white papers, how-to guides, instruction manuals–content that’s sometimes made for professionals in the industry and sometimes made for lay people. Basic qualifications aside, you can thrive in a technical writing position if you have strong time management skills and enthusiasm for the following tasks:

  • Research

  • Problem-Solving

  • Interpersonal Communication

  • Online Publishing

  • Self-Motivation

Statistical Insight

According to a recent summary on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics website, employment for technical writers is expected to grow by 6% around the end of 2023–a decent if average rate of growth.

Key takeaways

  1. Teaching and tutoring positions let you share your hard-earned experience with students.

  2. You can qualify for certain data scientist and software engineering jobs by attending coding bootcamps.

  3. Healthcare facilities always need detail-oriented professionals to perform medical billing/coding work.

  4. If you’re outgoing and experienced with brand promotion, social media director and marketing manager positions may be the right fit for you.

  5. Businesses with HR manager and project manager positions are always looking for professionals with strong interpersonal skills.

  6. If you’re a good writer, researcher, or knowledgable about certain  fields, a technical writer position might be the right fit for you.

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