1. Career Advice
  2. Career Change
  3. Thinking about a midlife career change? What to consider!
Thinking about a midlife career change? What to consider!

Thinking about a midlife career change? What to consider!

  • What is the most common age to change careers?
  • What to consider before a midlife career change
  • 1. Your skills
  • 2. Your goals
  • 3. Your finances
  • 4. Your risk tolerance
  • 5. Your personal life
  • 6. The job market
  • How to choose a new job during a midlife career change
  • 4 Ideas for making a career change plan
  • Making a contingency plan
  • Key takeaways

It isn’t uncommon for people to begin reassessing their careers during their middle years. We’ll discover what to consider, including practical guidance and thoughtful insights you’ll need to navigate a mid-life career change.

Perhaps you are at a crossroads and need to decide if you want to try something new. Or, maybe you’ve grown tired of your current industry. Whatever your reasons, making the best midlife career change takes careful thought and planning.

In this article, we will cover:

  • The most common age to change careers

  • What to consider before a midlife career change

  • How to choose a new job during a midlife career change

  • Four tips for making a career change plan

What is the most common age to change careers?

Research has shown that more of those entering their midlife are interested in changing careers. In fact, over 20 percent of workers in this age group have changed jobs within the last year and another 60 percent are interested in following suit. That means if you are considering changing careers midlife, you aren’t alone.

One reason it is common to question our career choices during our 40s and 50s is that we are understanding what matters to us. You may be looking for something more meaningful to do with your work time or want to spend more time with family. Others may be looking to make a change so they can grow more professionally.

Regardless of your motivations, making a midlife career change is extremely common. But that doesn’t mean it comes without its share of challenges. There are several steps you should take before deciding to change careers during this point of your life.

What to consider before a midlife career change

Before you make the midlife career change, consider all the factors that come along with being on this transformative journey. You will need to examine many aspects of your life, including your goals, finances, and professional path. 

Here’s a closer look at six things to consider:

1. Your skills

First, make a note of what skills you bring to the table. Since you have already progressed past the entry-level phase of your career, you’ve likely built up a lot of skills. Consider which ones will transfer to your new career and which you will still need to build.

2. Your goals

Next, write down your goals for your career and professional life. Ultimately, your current skills and goals paint a picture of what you want your career to look like in the future. Then, you can make a roadmap to your destination.

3. Your finances

You may be mentally ready for a change, but you will also need to prepare for a financial change. There are often some costs associated with switching careers, and you’ll need to consider them. Some of the costs include losses to 401K accounts, lost income due to starting in a brand-new career path, or even lost vacation days since you will be giving up tenure at your current job.

4. Your risk tolerance

All career transitions come with their share of risks, and the process will push you out of your comfort zone. Once you know where you stand on a financial basis, decide how risk-tolerant you are now and commit to being adaptable as you begin your journey.

5. Your personal life

You shouldn’t ignore the effect a career change will have on your personal life. Often, making a midlife career change comes with sacrifices as you learn your new job and integrate into your new position. This may affect your ability to participate in activities and family events for a while, which is something to ponder before making a change.

6. The job market

Finally, research the job market before making a change. Take some time to discover what jobs are growing in numbers and which are more competitive. Choose a job market that fits with your skill set and permits a quick transition. A highly competitive job market could mean it takes you longer to make the switch.

How to choose a new job during a midlife career change

With your skills and goals in front of you, it’s time to think about what type of new job you’d like to transition into. Research the jobs you are interested in and learn how they fit in with your goals and skill set.

What types of jobs are available? What is their growth potential? What types of salary expectations should you have? These are some of the things you should look into when deciding which job is right for you.

Another great way to narrow down your options is to talk to people working in the industry you are considering. Get some insights into the type of work you’ll be doing and what types of skills will make you most successful. 

4 Ideas for making a career change plan

To be successful with your midlife career change, it’s essential to develop a plan. Here are four tips:

  • Tailor your skills and goals. Remember to shape your career change plan around the skills and goals information you gathered previously.

  • Include a timeline. Your career change plan should also have a timeline that includes when certain items need to be completed, such as your resume or any certifications to obtain. It should also have the dates you plan to start searching for a new job.

  • Develop your professional network. Part of changing careers involves establishing a new professional network. In your career change plan, specify how you plan to do this. In some instances, you may be able to transfer portions of your existing network to your new career.

  • Notate challenges. Any job change, especially a midlife career change, comes with potential problems. Prepare for any challenges by including them in your plan. You should also detail the steps to address the challenges. You can do this by making a contingency plan.

Making a contingency plan

Creating a contingency plan is much like making a career change plan. In fact, it can be part of your career plan itself. The goal is to put measures in place that better prepare you to face challenges on your path to finding a new career. 

When making a midlife career change contingency plan, here are four things to include:

  • Potential risks. Some risks you may face include unexpected life events, job market fluctuations, and financial instability. You need ways to minimize their impact on your transition into your new role.

  • Alternate jobs. Even if you spend significant time planning your career change, there is a possibility your original goals won’t be met. For this reason, you need an alternate career option. Another possibility is freelance work if you aren’t able to land a full-time position with a company you are interested in. 

  • Education. If you are struggling to land a job in your new industry due to a lack of skills, consider formal education or training. Note information about the types of skills you might need, where you can obtain those skills, and what the additional education will cost you in terms of time away from your responsibilities and money.

  • Support. The final piece of your contingency plan should be information about your support system. Who will you turn to for advice during the career change process? Who are your mentors? Remember, you don’t have to walk the career change journey alone. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to those who can help.

Are you ready to make a career change but aren’t sure where to start? Our career exploration tool can help you on your journey.

Key takeaways

  1. It’s not uncommon for those in their midlife to go through a career change, so the experience is one you can share with others.

  2. Before making a midlife career change, you should assess your skills, clarify personal goals, evaluate risks, and consider the impact on your personal life.

  3. To be successful on your midlife career change journey, develop a comprehensive plan that details the timeline you’re working with, the challenges you might face, and your goals.

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