How To Make a Change of Career at 40 (With Steps and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Some professionals work in the same job until they reach they're ready to retire. Others decide to change careers and pursue new opportunities in a different role. If you're interested in changing careers, learning how to make the transition could help you prepare for a new job. In this article, we discuss why you may pursue a change of career at 40, show how you can do so and explore some jobs that may be a good fit for a person starting a new career in their 40s.

Why think about a change of career at 40?

Each individual may have different reasons for making a change of career at 40, such as:

Job satisfaction

Job satisfaction refers to how much a person feels happy, motivated and content with their current job. Being dissatisfied in a career can be one of the primary reasons people think of changing jobs. For example, you may have joined a company after your degree and maybe worked there for several years. With time, you may feel the roles and responsibilities no longer match your career objectives. Over the years, you may decide you may not be as satisfied with your original career choice.

You may consider changing careers to improve your job satisfaction. With your experience, skill set and professional network, you may find a new career that increases your satisfaction and happiness. Once you find a satisfying job, you may feel more motivated to achieve success.

Work-life balance

As you reach your 40s, you may have more responsibilities and roles in your personal life. For example, professionals may wish to spend time with their spouse, children or extended family members and friends. You may also have commitments to different clubs and community or religious groups. As a result, your personal schedule may be busier than the initial years when you started working.

If you feel your current job stops you from spending time on your other priority items, you may consider a career change. You may look for a suitable career that allows you to fulfil your personal commitments and have a better social life. Once you find a job that suits you, you may negotiate on the timings at the beginning itself so that once you start working, you may not feel stressed balancing your time.

Individual goals

You may have specific career goals when you join a company. The goals could be professional, such as developing a successful career path, gaining experience in your field or achieving awards and recognitions. Goals can also be personal, such as improving your skill set, contributing more to work or positively impacting other people's lives. You may realise after some time that your goals and the company's goals don't match. In such situations, it's challenging to achieve your personal goals by continuing in that job.

Once you realise there is a gap in the goals, you can consider changing your career. You can also decide to pursue a new degree that would help you in achieving your goals. Identifying and being clear about your goals can motivate you to think of a mid-life career change.

Growth opportunity

Many professionals aim for growth in their professional life and work towards achieving it, but some careers have limited growth opportunities. You may consider a career change if you're interested in applying for a role with more growth opportunities. You may do a self-analysis and understand what you want your career path to be. Once you do this, you can start looking for alternate career options with higher chances of growth opportunities. Sometimes you may have to shift from the current work profile and try a new one to achieve this growth.

Related: How Career Progression Leads To Personal Fulfilment

Examples of careers you may consider in your 40s

Here are some jobs that you can consider when looking for a career change in your 40s:

  • Starting your own business: Starting a business of interest and managing it can be a promising career. You can achieve success by developing skills such as leadership, marketing, financial management and problem-solving.

  • Individual consultancy: After taking certifications, you can work with various organisations as a consultant in specific tasks or solving problems. Effective communication and observation skills can be helpful in this career field.

  • Event planning: Event planners create an experience by planning, coordinating and executing an event or function, and professionals from different career backgrounds may pursue this role. Time management, planning and organisation are the skills primarily required for this career.

  • Language translator: The primary responsibility of a translator is to understand the content written in one language and convert the ideas into another language without any change in the meaning. Being a language translator requires fluency in both languages and cultural knowledge to understand the context.

  • Fitness trainer: In this job, you work with individuals or a group and train them to improve their physical fitness. Taking necessary certifications can help you start a career in the fitness industry.

    Related: Choosing a Career Path in 11 Steps

How to change career at 40

Consider following these steps to help you change careers at the age of 40:

1. Understand the need for change

The first step while considering a mid-life career change is to recognise the reason. For example, you may be considering a change because of a lack of work-life balance or dissatisfaction with current company goals. Once the reason is clear, you can think of what you want from the new career. Setting clear career goals and then looking for a job to achieve them helps you grow professionally and personally. It may also prevent you from facing the problems you had in your previous career.

2. Research new career options

Once you understand why you want a career change, the next step is to identify what you want to pursue. Before taking a decision, it's essential to gather information and do in-depth research. List out the various career options you're interested in and learn about the skill set, educational qualification and experience required to pursue these careers.

There could be situations when you're not clear about the career path. In such cases, you may get support from career consultants, online job portals or educational institutions to understand more options. You may also take online tests to evaluate your current skills and develop them. Interacting with other professionals can help get information about the current market trends and demands in various careers.

3. Stay motivated and take action

Some professionals may be hesitant to make a mid-life career change. Sometimes it can feel challenging switching to a new role, especially if you have years of experience in a different field. Consider reviewing your reasons for making a change throughout the process to help you stay motivated. For example, if you're moving into a new career field because you want to improve your work-life balance, remembering this reason may inspire you to take action.

Once you decide and go ahead, it can give you the confidence to take control of the future. You can start with updating your CV and sending it to companies that match your career goals. You may also seek help from career coaches and online or local job agencies.

Related: Interview Question: What Are Your Career Aspirations?

4. Identify possibilities

Adaptability is an essential quality that can help you while thinking of changing a career in your mid-life. People in their 40s may have more experience, and they may be better at handling changes, depending on their prior roles. They may be able to respond and manage the transition more maturely.

If you're considering a career change, you may think of jobs that require an entirely new skill set rather than looking for a similar job. Sometimes, you may seek a complete change of role, industry or work environment to be motivated to work. Discussions with professionals in the industry can give you fresh ideas which you might have never considered. Try to stay adaptable during this process and consider roles that are different from your original ideas. This may help you find more opportunities.

5. Consider self-improvement options

After considering all the possibilities and short-listing the potential careers, the next step is to apply for jobs. If the new job requires new skills or educational qualifications, you may consider pursuing these. Consider investing time and effort in self-improvement so that your profile matches the industry requirements. For this, you can attend online courses, take new degrees or explore internship opportunities.

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