Career Change at 40, 50, or Any Age

It’s scary making a career change, and it can be scarier the older you are.  The prospect of changing your career, especially when you’re starting to consider things like retirement, is terrifying – but the idea of being trapped in a career you hate is often worse. The good news – it’s entirely possible to make a career change at 40,
50, or any age! If this is a move that will better support your family, better use your skills, and make you happier, it may be the right one for you. Let’s look at some of the reasons why changing your career in midlife or later can be a positive thing.


Younger workers are just starting their careers and establishing themselves, however, as you get older, the need to be fully immersed in your work lessens.  You find your responsibilities have shifted from building your reputation to building your family, taking care of elderly parents, and contributing to the world at large.  Changing careers can be a way for you to take control of your career and manage those shifted responsibilities in the following ways:
Work-life balance.  If you’re in a position where you’re juggling the needs of many different people (spouses, children, parents, etc), you may find that you don’t have the work-life balance that you require.  Changing careers may be beneficial in helping you better manage your personal responsibilities.

Flexibility.  There are now more options than ever for flexible work solutions such as entrepreneurship, remote work, contract work, freelancing, and part-time work.  

New career paths.  There are new careers now that didn’t exist twenty years ago – app development, social media managers, podcast hosts, sustainability managers.  Many other positions – tutoring, administration, graphic design – are now being carried out in a vastly different way, thanks to the internet.


Many adults in their 40s and older grew up with the expectation they would work until they were 65 and then enjoy retirement, living off their pensions, Social Security, or other retirement benefits.  But that model is slowly dissolving as more and more organizations are shifting to employee retirement accounts such as a 401(k) or profit-sharing, which allows you to move your retirement funds around. This means that you are no longer bound to one organization in order to enjoy your retirement.  In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics estimates that work participation rates will increase among those aged 65-75 as people retire later in life, due to longer life expectancies and changes to Social Security benefits.  While many have expectations of working longer, that doesn’t mean they have to work doing the same thing for the rest of their career.  


Your experience is a commodity.  You’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the workforce, gaining critical skills and experience relative to your industry.  You’ve also spent time building your soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, time management, and problem-solving skills. You’ve proven that you can learn new things and adapt.  What you don’t know, moving to a new career, you can learn. And what you do know can easily be transferred to another career. Your specific skills may even bring a fresh perspective to a new career.

Related: You Deserve More: Changing Careers Despite Fear


Don’t be swift to overlook this one. Happiness at work relates to the satisfaction you feel with the rest of your life.  Having a healthy work-life balance, feeling valued at work, and doing something that you love to do all contribute to your overall mental health. The Bureau of Labour Statistics published a study that revealed happiness at work directly impacts employees’ happiness during their time off. This is huge.  It shows that we don’t typically compartmentalize work from our personal lives, and work happiness impacts our overall wellbeing. By the time you reach mid-life, you deserve to live a life that fulfills you professionally, financially, and emotionally.  By now, you know what you want out of life – and what you don’t want. Now is the time to reduce stress and live a meaningful life.


Making a mid-life career change will not come without its own set of challenges.  It may require an update to your identity, your personal brand, and your skillset. It may require you to leave the comfort zone of a job or career you’ve had for many years.  Know that you’re not alone. Studies show that 80% of people over 45 years old consider making a career change, but only 6% do.  Many people who want to make a career change in mid-life let fear get in the way.  However, full-time workers with bachelor’s degrees make their highest income in their 40s and 50s, so mid-life is the perfect time to branch out and try something new.  If you’ve been wondering if you’re too old to leap from the nest and make a career change, remember that you’re in control of your career, your retirement priorities may have changed, your experience is a commodity and, most of all, you deserve to be happy.  Go be great!


You can make a career change at any age. The modern worker is working longer than ever before retiring or taking on a new career after retiring from the first one. While making a career change in your 40s or 50s might feel intimidating, it’s entirely possible to do and if it makes you a happier person and is better for your family in the long run, it may be the best thing for you.