There are a lot of people who think about switching careers at 40 more commonly than you think. Whether it’s to have better financial opportunities, leave a dissatisfying work environment, or simply try out something new, people who choose to change careers at 40 are determined to build a more satisfying and fulfilling life.
Making such a big change isn’t easy. There are a lot of things you need to consider before deciding to take a leap. Switching careers at 40 is daunting but it could also be the most ideal time to recalibrate your focus when it comes to your career. It could be less challenging because you already have two decades’ worth of work experience. You also have at least two more decades before retirement that will allow you to enjoy your new career and learn more about it.
Can You Change Careers at 40?
Leaving the career you’ve been in for the past 20 years might seem intimidating. After all, it can be scary to abandon something you’ve known and mastered for so long to explore and learn something new.
However, you should recognize that you have grown since you first started your career. You now have more skills than when you were first hired. By now, you must have learned how to present confidently in meetings, work with difficult coworkers, and improve your social skills.
After learning all these skills, it’s not surprising that you want to try something new to challenge yourself. It is also possible that as you grew older, your needs and interests started to change and are not being fulfilled by your current job.
So, to answer your question: yes, it’s possible to change careers at 40 or even when you’re older. Doing so might present you with some challenges, but it’s never too late to plan and achieve new professional goals that will make your life more meaningful.
Benefits of Switching Careers at 40
There are several benefits you can enjoy when you decide to change careers at 40. With more experience than when you first entered the workforce, you now know what to look for in a new career and what you can offer your new employer. You can also enjoy the following advantages:
Years of Experience
Although you’ll be starting a new career at 40, this doesn’t mean you’re completely clueless about the job. There is a high chance that you have developed some skills over the years that can be transferred to the new career you’ve chosen.
Many Years Ahead
Even if you’ve already been working for more than 20 years, you still have plenty of time to enjoy and develop yourself in your new career. If you plan to retire at 65 years old, you can still have at least 25 fulfilling years even when you change careers at 40.
Better Mental Health
Working the same, tedious job for years until you retire can lead to burnout, which is not good for your mental health. Settling into a stressful career may take a toll on your personal life and even lead to anxiety, lethargy, or depression.
So, aside from seeking help from a mental health professional, changing careers can help improve your mental health. Trying a new career can reenergize you and give you a new perspective as well.
Satisfaction and Fulfilment
If you’re feeling stuck with your current career, switching jobs may help you achieve a higher level of satisfaction and fulfillment. Doing something new can give you a feeling of accomplishment, which can ultimately lead to a more purposeful life. You can also get the chance to reconfigure your career path, no matter if you want a better work-life balance, a higher position, or a higher salary.
Challenges of Changing Careers in your 40s
No matter how exciting changing careers in your 40s can be, there are still some drawbacks that you need to consider.
Now that you’re in your 40s, you might have more responsibilities than when you first started working. You may own a house, have kids, or care for your elderly parent, which may make your career change more difficult.
If you’re preparing for a career transition, you might need some time off your current work to focus on learning new skills. This may then affect your other responsibilities and even require you to withdraw from your savings.
When you decide to start a new career at 40, you should be prepared to take a pay cut or an entry-level job. Remember that the cost of living right now is not the same as how it was when you were younger, so a minimum salary may not be enough to cover your and your family’s expenses. You may need to re-allocate your finances and adjust living according to your new salary, which can be quite difficult especially if you were used to a certain lifestyle.
Affects Other People in Your Life
Switching careers in your 40s may not be as easy as when you were in your 20s. By now, you have additional financial responsibilities that may require you to lean on your partner as you change careers. This means that you need to talk to them before deciding to change careers to ensure they’re alright with it.
While switching to another career at 40, you might experience some self-doubt. You may worry about learning new skills and not being able to catch up with the competition. You might even feel like you’re at a disadvantage compared to the younger generation.
Despite all these challenges, know that you can still change your career even if you’re already in your 40s. With the right strategies, you can make a smooth transition and be successful in your new career.
How to Change Careers at 40
Once you’ve weighed the benefits and challenges of changing careers in your 40s, you might ask yourself “how do I change my career at 40?” You need to be prepared for your next step because doing so can help increase your chances of being successful in your new career.
Here are some things you need to do when you decide to take the leap:
Deciding to change careers at 40 is a serious commitment, so you need to make sure you’re certain before taking the plunge. The first thing you need to do is ask yourself if you really want a new career or just a new company, role, or workplace.
If you want a new career, you should think about your current career thoroughly and reflect on why you want to leave. List what you like or dislike about your current career and what you wish you could change. Then, take time to reflect on what you’ve come up with before deciding. And once you’ve made your decision, make sure to commit fully.
Before entering a new career, you should first learn more about the industry. Make sure to research the new career you want to take, the industry, and the job market.
You can achieve this by talking to other professionals on LinkedIn and asking them to reflect on their current career, including what they like about it and what they want to change. You can also ask them for career advice that will help you as you transition into a new career in your 40s.
Determine Your Transferrable Skills
Most of the skills you acquired while working in your current job might be specific to your industry, such as corporate processes, using proprietary tools, and other niche skills. However, you might have also developed transferrable skills that you can use in your new career. Some examples of transferrable skills include problem-solving, communication, adaptability, creativity, and more.
Show your commitment to changing careers in your 40s by learning new skills that will help you succeed in your dream career. You don’t have to wait to land your new job before you start working on your new skills.
Update Your Resume
Use your new skills to beef up your resume and make it more attractive to recruiters in your target industry. Make sure to highlight your transferrable skills and the courses you’ve taken.
You should also update your LinkedIn profile. Doing so will help increase your visibility and let recruiters know you’re looking for a new job.
Possible Careers to Start at 40
If you’re still deciding on your new career, here are some jobs you can switch to at 40:
This career doesn’t require technical training and can be learned through experience. However, you need great attention to detail and people skills to succeed in this field.
Use your transferrable skills to become a financial consultant, helping people manage their finances. You’ll need to have a strong knowledge of financial planning to excel in this role, which you can easily learn by taking up short courses in finance.
Take the Leap
Now that you’ve done all the preparation and research, it’s time to take the leap and jump into your new career. Make sure to be confident in your decision and to be patient as you transition. With the right mindset and effort, you’re sure to succeed despite the challenges that come with changing careers in your 40s.