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Is a Late-Life Career Change Right for You?

Sarah Sipek, CareerBuilder writer

Making a career change at any age is a scary prospect. But making that change later in life—after you’ve developed skills, gained industry knowledge and forged a career path—is scarier than trying out something new in your twenties.

But just because something scares you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Employees in the later stage of their career have likely developed passions and better understand the type of work that will make them happy.

You just need to be smart about your decision.

These five steps will help you determine whether a late-life career change is right for you.

  1. Outline your regrets.

If you’re on the fence about whether to make a career change, make a list of the regrets you will have if you don’t pursue your passion. If the list is long—and well-reasoned—you should seriously consider making a switch.

  1. Set goals.

Hating your current job is not a good enough reason to make a total career change. You need a definable goal. Career assessments can help you identify careers that interest you.

Identifying your reason for making a change will help with this process. If money in your biggest motivating factor, you should research the difference between your current salary and the earning potential of the field you are considering. If career fulfillment is your top priority, you will need to research career satisfaction levels in the field you are considering.

  1. Identify skill and education gaps.

If you are considering a career change, it is possible that you lack some of the skills necessary for your ideal position. Check out online resources to determine the education, training and qualifications necessary to enter a given field.

Consider the extra cost of the education or training as well and whether you can afford the investment now.

  1. Test the waters.

Before taking a leap and ending up in a field that is no more suited to you than the one you were previously in, it’s important to feel out the space first. Conduct informational interviews with people currently working in the industry. Ask them what they like and dislike about the line of work and what they wish they would’ve considered before entering.

For more hands-on experience, consider volunteering in the field you are considering. The low-pressure environment will give you a feel for the day-to-day life of someone in that position. If it feels like a good fit, then you can make the leap.

  1. Consider the length of time to success.

It’s true that age is just a number. But when making a career change, the average time it takes to achieve success in a new field. You didn’t achieve success in your first career overnight, and it likely won’t be the case the second time either. If you’re hoping to retire at a set age, it’s important to know whether you have enough time to realise your goals before you intend to leave the workforce.


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