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Being in your 40s is often a time of self-reflection. While thinking about what you want at this point in your life, you might find yourself contemplating a career change after 40. Switching careers provides you with an opportunity to pursue a lifelong dream or spend your days doing work that you find rewarding or challenging.

If you’re feeling unsure about making this kind of transition in your 40s, keep in mind that it’s not uncommon. In fact, a 2019 survey found that the average age of those switching careers is 39.

Consider the following while weighing your options for a midlife career change.

What’s Good About Making a Career Change?

Changing careers can enhance your life in many ways, especially if your current career has been unfulfilling. While making this switch might seem intimidating, you can look forward to enjoying several benefits, such as the following:

  • Improving emotional well-being by doing work that you love rather than simply earning a paycheck
  • Putting prior experience to use in a new job while learning new skills
  • Exploring your passion as a career choice instead of a hobby
  • Developing better work-life balance, especially if your new career offers a more flexible schedule
  • Achieving professional goals that you’ve been unable to meet in your current job

How to Start a New Career at 40

Knowing how to change careers at 40 can help ensure that you’re able to make this transition go as smoothly as possible. Keep the following in mind if you’re thinking of switching careers while you’re in your 40s.

Determine Why

Figuring out why you want to make a midlife career change is an important step in making it happen. In order to determine why you’re considering switching careers, think about why you’re unhappy in your current career and what you would rather spend your time and skills doing. For example, you might discover that you’re mainly unhappy with your schedule, your work environment. Or you could find yourself dissatisfied with the daily tasks that come with your current job.

Thinking about what you might want to do is the other part of figuring out why you’re thinking about changing careers. Is there a certain type of career you’re interested in based on your personal interests and talents? Even if you’re not exactly sure what you want to do, having an idea of the kinds of work you might like is a start.

Let Go of Fear

It’s understandable to be afraid of making such a big change to your life. Changing careers is a significant life change, after all. You might have financial worries or concerns about whether or not you’ll succeed in your new career.

Don’t let fear rule you. You shouldn’t let fear stop you from switching to a more fulfilling career at 40. Instead of thinking about potential negative outcomes of a career change, focus on the benefits of making this change. This can help you shift to a positive mindset about changing careers, which can boost your confidence. And that can lead to a boost in your chances for success in your new career.

Focus on Your Passion, Not Your Age

When you’re thinking of potential career paths, don’t focus on how old you are. Dwelling on being in your 40s might cause you to avoid considering certain career paths out of concern that you’re too old to start fresh. Keep in mind that your age isn’t the important factor to consider when it comes to switching careers.

Rather than focusing on your age, you should pay attention to your passion. Think about what you have a strong interest in or what kind of work you might find meaningful. For example, if you love helping those in need, you might consider studying to be a counselor or healthcare worker. If you have a passion for helping animals or learning more about them, you might choose to become a veterinarian or zoologist. Recognizing your passion can help you determine the right career path. 

Connect and Learn

Networking can provide you with valuable knowledge and connections for your new career. When you know what you want to do, look for ways to connect with professionals in that field.

It could be easier than you think. You might know people in your everyday life, such as a neighbor or relative, who do the kind of work you want to do. In this case, you can spend time chatting with them about that type of career to get a better idea of what the work is like and what kinds of skills you’ll need. You might already have connections from your current and previous jobs that you can turn to, as well.

If you don’t know anyone personally who works in the field you’re interested in, you can still make connections. Check for local organizations and events, such as job fairs or conferences, that give you opportunities to meet professionals in your new chosen field.

Focus on Transferable Skills

Doing a career change at 40 means you’ve built up several years of professional experience. While you might need to learn some new skills for your new career, there’s a good chance that you already have some professional skills you can use.

Think about the skills you’ve developed over the years at your current job and at previous jobs. Some of these skills can help you stand out from the competition when it comes to landing a job in your new career. For example, you might have developed a strong work ethic, excellent communication skills, or outstanding problem-solving abilities. These are all examples of transferable skills that are useful in a wide range of careers.

Do Your Research

If you’re nervous about switching to a new career at 40, you can ease some of it by making sure you research potential career paths. Learning about new careers, such as the types of skills required and the typical kind of work environment, can help you understand what to expect in your daily work life.

You should also gather other kinds of information on the careers you’re considering, such as the average salary and job outlook. Knowing whether or not you’ll need certification to work in your new field is also helpful, since you can take this into consideration when doing a career change.

Choose Your Educational Path

When you’re exploring career options, consider the educational path you’ll need to take for certain jobs. Some positions might require you to have a graduate degree, for example, while others might require a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree. While choosing a career that requires a graduate degree might mean going to school longer, you can expect to earn a higher salary. A graduate degree in your new career should lead to more advanced job opportunities that can provide you with a challenging yet rewarding work life.

Knowing the educational path you’ll need to take for your new career can help you plan ahead. If you know that you’ll need to pursue a graduate degree, you can look into available programs and financial aid options to help you achieve this goal. Keep in mind that you always have the option to pursue a higher degree as needed if you move up in your new career.

Revamp Your Resume

Having years of work experience can be beneficial when you’re changing careers at 40, but make sure this is reflected in your resume. Before you start applying for positions in your new career, take time to update your resume. Your revamped resume should highlight the work experience you’ve had most recently and the skills you’ve learned along the way. Depending on the kind of work you’re applying for, you might want to emphasize certain skills or past experiences that are relevant.

While updating your resume, you should also remove older information that isn’t relevant, such as the entry-level job you took right after college in your early 20s or part-time work you did while in school. Your resume should make it easy for employers to see your relevant work experience and skills at a glance and encourage them to set up an interview with you.

Continue to Evolve

Changing careers in your 40s doesn’t mean you’ll be set for the rest of your work life. As you gain experience and develop new skills, make sure you continue growing in your new career. Depending on your goals, this might mean seeking continuing education in your field or working toward a higher degree in order to expand your job opportunities. Staying up to date on developments in your field is also helpful and prevents your career from stagnating.

If you want to change your career at 40, Post University can help you gain the education you need. Contact us to learn more about our degree programs, so you can begin working on your career change.



Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!