Career Change at 50: The Best Decision You Can Make
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Considering a career change at 50? Although changing careers was less common back in the day, it’s now not only doable but advisable in many situations. You’ve likely acquired a strong sense of who you are and what you prefer in a job setting by now. You’ve also mastered certain skills and gained the incomparable asset of real-world experience. Even the brightest candidates graduating from top universities can’t compete with your time in the “trenches”.
Changing careers is a big step, and many hesitate in midlife, due to accumulating expenses, dependents, or health concerns. At the same time, it’s never too late to make your transition. Here’s how to do it successfully.
How to Make a Career Change at 50
A midlife career change requires planning and consideration. Start by assessing what you like and don’t like about your current career. Also, assess how it aligns with your original career goals. Did you set out to build houses but ended up selling them instead? Consulting a career coach at Lensa can point you in the right direction. Some career coaches even specialize in clients over the age of 50.
Common Reasons for Changing Careers
Consider where your career path took a detour and make an honest assessment of why it did. Were you unqualified, or did you simply lack the confidence to pursue your dream job? If you’re doing what you planned to do, why don’t you enjoy it anymore?
Sometimes, people change careers at 50 because they’ve lost their enthusiasm for their field and want to try something new. Others have health changes, mounting expenses, or lower expenses, which open up different career possibilities. Some want to plan for their future by transitioning into something more viable as they age. The reasons are many, and luckily, the options are too.
Challenges You Might Face in Making a Career Change
Changing careers at any age poses certain challenges, including qualifying for the job. If you need a different degree, a training course, or a financial investment to make a career change, begin by plotting your steps and assessing what it will cost to make the switch. Some job candidates also worry about ageism, but that’s not acceptable by law. so understand your rights before applying. There’s a lot to think about.
10 Things You Should Consider Before Changing Careers
Every job has its headaches, and anything can get boring when you do it day after day. A bit of work stress or monotony isn’t necessarily a reason to make a career change. However, there are multiple reasons why you should make a career change at 50. Before you turn in your two-week notice, ask yourself the questions below to help gauge where you’re truly at.
1. Can You Afford a Pay Cut? Making a parallel or vertical move in your own field likely won’t come with a pay cut. But starting out in a totally different pasture means the grass may not be greener at first. Ask yourself if you can take a little less pay until you move up in the ranks.
Age 50 is a great time to consider this option since your household occupancy might change soon. If you’re sending kids off to the workforce, military, or college, your grocery, electrical, water, cable, and just about every other conceivable bill should be lowered, particularly if your child has a scholarship or financial aid for college. You can also consider downsizing your home if your nest is getting emptier, which lowers your rent or mortgage payment, offsetting any reduction in any wages.
2. Do You Need a Pay Raise? In contrast, some people make a career change at 50 because their current field isn’t meeting their income needs. By age 50, expenses can begin piling up: your teenager needs auto insurance and possibly a car; your family home costs more than the apartment you rented in your 30s; your house and car now have some age on them, and repair bills are accumulating.
Changing careers at age 50 is a great option for those who are burdened by expenses they can’t cover in their current profession. Weigh the costs of making the change (extra training, courses, commute, attire, etc.) to ensure you can afford the transition.
3. Are You Willing to Relocate? Some people are lucky enough to step from one corporation into a new industry right down the street. But others need to be open to moving to start over in a new career. Check out your local job listings and talk to friends and family to determine if a move is appealing to you.
If you’re approaching an empty nest, this might be the perfect time to relocate. If moving isn’t an option, contact a local headhunter or career coach to scout out opportunities in your vicinity. Or take advantage of the multiple career options that are now virtual, so you can work from anywhere.
4. Is Insurance a Factor? If your current job provides health insurance, make sure your new career options offer similar benefits. If your current career provides no (or inferior) coverage, that’s just one more reason to head in a new direction. You’ve put significant time into honing your skills, so you deserve an employer that values your wellbeing.
5. What Career Goals are You Trying to Achieve? Do you want to earn more, have more autonomy, have more input, have more flexibility, or have more variety? Keep in mind, your career goals at age 50 might be different than they were at age 25. Be honest with yourself about what you truly want, and don’t settle for jobs that won’t facilitate those goals. Now’s the time to ask for those things you might have been afraid of when you were younger.
6. What are You Looking for in Your New Career? Some people literally want a change of pace, a change of scenery, or a change in opportunities. Others want to learn something new or be part of an emerging field with new technology, innovation, or research. Don’t just switch into something different without deciding why your other job feels “old” and what would make it feel “new.” Look for those fresh features in your new employer, so you’re invigorated to begin.
7. Have Your Strengths Changed? Maybe you were an extroverted people-person at the start of your career, but years of conference calls have you longing for more solitude. Analyze how your gifts have evolved over the years. Maybe now you’d prefer big-picture strategizing and facilitating, more than micromanaging or overseeing. Update your resume to reflect how you want to be useful in your new career.
8. Where Do Your Daydreams Take You? Avoid falling into the trap of choosing what you “should” do next, and listen to that soundtrack that plays in the background of your mind. What do you find yourself daydreaming about doing? Do you want to work remotely? Look for ways to incorporate your daydreams into reality to make your job more appealing.
9. What’s on Your Bucket List? Too often, people postpone their bucket list until they are retired, and sometimes then, health or cost prohibits those dreams from being achieved. Choose a job now that allows you either the financial freedom or schedule flexibility to do what matters to you. If you like to work 24/7, by all means, do it! But if you want a little more work/life balance than you had in your younger years, choose accordingly.
10. What Makes You Most Excited About a Career Change at 50? When you think about changing careers, what’s the first thing that pops in your mind? When you choose your next career, look for those factors in the interview process to make sure you’ll be happy with your decision. In many ways, the very idea of a fresh start is enough to generate excitement!
How to Find a Job as a 50-Year-Old
The job market for those over 50 is not only thriving, but it’s also a popular place to be! For many people, this is the perfect time to segue into a new field where they can excel into their 60s and 70s. Consider the mental and physical demands of a job and look for a career that older people can confidently pursue for decades to come.
Smart employers know that those in their 50s are primed for hiring in many ways. You are old enough to bring seasoned expertise to a new environment. But you're also young enough to dedicate 15 or more years to your new company. Employers will see this as a wise investment, so don't underestimate your value when accepting the terms of your job. Several companies actually seek those over 50 for this very reason.
What is a Good Midlife Career Change? Try These Suitable Fields
Below are some career changes that are easier to make at 50, since they don't require lengthy education or certification processes.
- Tax Preparation
- Property Appraiser
- Writer (especially industry-specific)
- Model Home Greeter for Property Developer
- Real Estate Agent
- Medical or Legal Transcriptionist
- Retail Sales or Retail Management
- Legislator or Activist
- Archivist or Curator
- Copy Editor or Proofreader (virtual options too)
- Community or Association Manager
- Sculptor, Woodworker, or Metalworker
- Travel Agent
- Bus or Cruise Tour Guide
- School or Commercial Bus Driver
- Religious Leader
- Entrepreneur or Self-Employment
Why You Shouldn’t Give Up on Your Dream Job After 50
Pursue your dream job. Many companies are now rewarded by the government to hire older folks, receiving a monetary restart incentive for hiring and retaining employees over 50 years old. In addition, companies are no longer allowed to practice ageism or age discrimination, so you have the government on your side.
Starting a different career won’t just teach you new things, it will also introduce you to new people and uncover potential you didn’t know you had. Begin your job search do what motivates you to succeed.