Making a mid-life career change can be one of the most stressful decisions you will ever make. But don’t be scared, it’s not true that you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and if you’ve found yourself wanting to try something new or are anxious to pursue that life-long passion to see if you can make a living at it, there’s no time like the present! The key is to be strategic and patient while making your transition.
Don’t get frustrated
Remember that making a career change is not as simple as finding a new job. You’re looking to break into a new field and that is not always easy, especially later in life. Start by asking yourself if this field is something that you’ll need to obtain specialized training, education or receive certifications in order to do. If the answer is yes, you have a longer path to your new career but don’t let that frustrate you. Find out what you need to do, go back to school, sign up for a training class or vocational program and start studying the field!
Use your existing contacts
If you’re a forty-something, you probably have a decent network of contacts from all walks of life. Think about who you know that may be able to give you some leads, make an introduction or provide some advice. If you want to go back to school to become a nurse, think of who you know if the medical field that might be able to give you some insight.
Carefully investigate the job market
No matter how passionate you are about the field that you’re about to get into, you’ll need to make sure that there is a market for it… unless you are independently wealthy. Before making your decision, investigate the job market. Are there lots of openings in this field within your area or within the area you are willing to relocate to? What are the growth opportunities? Average salary? How long would it take you to complete enough training or education in order to qualify for a position in this field?
Start at the bottom
Remember, that although you may be in mid-life, you’re starting over – and that means starting at the bottom. Consider applying for an internship or assistant-level position to get your foot in the door and to start learning the ropes. If you can afford to do so, volunteer.
Have your finances “in check” first
You’ll want to be prepared financially before making the leap. If you’re currently employed, begin building a cushion. Ideally, you should have 12 to 18 months’ living expenses in the bank before making the transition. And, if the career path you’ve chose requires education, you should find a way to pursue that education while still collecting an income from your current career, unless you have the savings or the financial support of a spouse.
Jade Evans is a freelance writer and mother of two who decided to pursue her passion for journalism after a successful career as a software engineer. She regularly writes for Uship, an online shipping marketplace that connects people with customer-reviewed transport companies and car shipping.