Why It’s Never Too Late For A Career Change

Change can be daunting. Once you’re comfortable with something, it can be hard to move to something else. New homes, new schools, even new countries. It’s a big deal. And when it comes to a career, it can be scary to take the plunge and make a change, no matter how old you are. But sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet and go for it. 

With transferable skills, a lot of experience – work and life – and a lot of career development, changing careers in your 50s may actually be easier than you think. 

Why do people change careers?

The working world is different nowadays. While for previous generations, a professional career was about finding a company and sticking with them, the younger generation is now embracing a more nomadic career journey. So why can’t you? 

Many people change jobs or careers purely because they feel unsatisfied in their current role. Whether that’s because they’re not getting the pay or respect they deserve, or they just want another challenge, it’s become quite acceptable to transition between jobs, no matter how junior or senior you are. 

Other reasons to change careers include looking for inspiration, wanting to work for a different kind or organisation, expanding on a certain skill, or embracing a new area of interest. And just because you’re part of the older generation, doesn’t mean you won’t succeed in a new career. In fact, some of the most successful people only found success after the age of 40 – the founders of McDonalds, Coca-Cola, and KFC come to mind. 

Finally, the fact that we are living longer, our health is better than ever before and technology is paving the way for more remote and accessible work means better opportunities are more available than ever before. Almost a quarter of Australians aged 45 and above are expected to work past the age of 70. When you look at that statistic, changing careers later in life doesn’t seem so strange. 

What skills do you need to change careers?

One of the major benefits of changing careers later in life is all the work and life experience you’ve already got. On-the-job experience can often trump studying because you’re familiar with real-world situations. You’ve had years to hone and practice skills, and any employer appreciates experience, especially if you’re up against a job-seeker straight out of university. On top of this, you’ve had time to enhance your skills, and develop interests and hobbies outside of work, which can bring a wider perspective to your career, and life in general. 

While it’s wonderful that you have practical training and experience, the decision to change your career may require some extra studying. If you’re changing industries completely, well then yes, you should probably do some courses to get the right qualifications. These can be taken online, which means you can do it all in your own time from the comfort of your own home, or face-to-face. The decision is yours. Even if you’re moving to a different area of the same career, a brushup on the required skills and knowledge may be a good idea. 

What about the money?

Many people change careers to help raise their income. That’s common regardless of your age. However, if you’re choosing a completely different career path, it must be noted that this may mean a pay cut. Remember, choosing an entirely new career means that while you have the worldly and more general employment experience, you may not have the same amount of specific skill experience required, which means you may be classified as more ‘junior’ than you are in your current role. 

In saying this though, there are plenty of ways to change careers and still earn a very decent income, if not a higher one than you are earning already. As well as this, if you’re looking for a new challenge or your reason for changing careers is to get a better work/life balance, then there are a huge range of options for you. 

How to choose a new career

When considering what to do, it really comes down to what you want out of your new career. Think about what makes you happy and follow that lead. If you love being outdoors and speaking to people, perhaps you could become a local tour guide. If you appreciate history and books, maybe a role in a museum or library would be more fulfilling. 

Of course, you also need to be practical in your career choice. What transferable skills do you have? Is there anything in that range that you can and want to do? Then consider whether qualifications you’ll need if any. It’s also a good idea to do some research on job boards to see what kind of jobs are available in the industry you’re interested in. Finally, take baby steps. Don’t dive right on in. Rather, find someone in your chosen industry who can help you – find a mentor, a career coach or even just someone you know who you can pick their brain. 

Getting qualified

While it’s not always necessary to get new qualifications, doing some extra studying or professional development courses is never going to hinder an application. A general business course can do wonders for further or changing your career as it gives you extensive knowledge about how to conduct a business, build a business and manage everything to do with a business. 

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Gladys Mae


Gladys Mae serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute. Gladys holds a degree in Mass Communication - Broadcast Media from the University of San Jose-Recoletos. She joined ICI in 2010 and has over the past 12 years been instrumental in providing leadership and guidance to staff and students alike. Prior to joining ICI Gladys led a multifaceted career with key roles in the banking and business process outsourcing industries.