Making a career switch at 50 isn’t a walk in the park, but it’s not impossible either. And if you are feeling less than satisfied in your current occupation, then a career change at 50 might be just what you need. With some work, dedication, and these tips on how to change careers, you can make that career change and find that job satisfaction that you dream about.
When you reach 50 years old, you’re much closer to retirement than you are to the age when many people begin a new career. Assuming you plan to retire at 67 when you can receive your full Social Security Benefits, you only have 17 or so workforce years left. However, if your career no longer feels motivating or satisfying, 17 years can sound like an eternity.
Have you considered making a career switch? It doesn’t matter if you’re 30 or 50, no one should have to stay in a dead end career or one that doesn’t make you happy. In the past, making a career change at 50 was essentially the kiss of death for your career (and income). However, now, that’s not quite the case.
While you can definitely make a good career change at 50, your age (and experience) will play a role in how you pursue a new career and go about making your transition. And no matter how you look at it, there are definitely advantages and disadvantages to making the switch.
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Pros and Cons of Making a Career Switch at 50
Use these lists of advantages and disadvantages to help you consider making a career change.
Advantages to a Career Change at 50
There are some undeniable benefits to consider, including:
- Stress Reduction – leaving a high-pressure occupation or a job that leaves you feeling unfulfilled causes stress. Switching to a job that’s a better fit will reduce stress.
- New Opportunities – putting yourself in a new environment yields many new opportunities to learn new skills, work with new people, and present new challenges which can help you experience higher job satisfaction.
- Find Your Passion – what excites you? As you get older, you tend to know yourself a little better so you really know what drives you. Once you find a career that utilizes your passion, it won’t feel like work anymore.
And certainly there are a few disadvantages to switching careers when you’re closer to retirement than the start of your career. Here are a few ways to overcome those disadvantages.
- Focus on the Positive – your age is an advantage, not a disadvantage. Your years bring qualifications, experience, and achievements that others won’t have. Highlight that when talking with prospective employers.
- Keep Learning – in today’s times, knowing how to use technology is a must. If you feel uncomfortable in the digital age or with any other skills in your new career, take the time to learn them. Be adaptable and open to learning new things.
- Network – this hasn’t changed and applies to all fields. Get to know people and make lasting friendships that span generations.
- Update Your Resume – make sure that it’s updated and formatted appropriately to improve your chances of being hired.
Now that we’ve covered some of the advantages (and ways to overcome disadvantages), it’s time to walk through how to make the change.
How to Make a Career Change at 50
I’ve gathered some of my favorite tips for changing careers. If you’re considering a career change, you don’t want to miss these tips.
- Assess Yourself
Take some time to find out what really interests you. If you aren’t sure where to start, I recommend taking a career test to shed some light on your talents and preferences so that you can use that information to choose your next career path.
If you prefer to work with someone directly, you can hire a career counselor to help you do some of the same things.
- Decide On Your Next Career
Once you take your career test, you’ll make a list of occupation options based on your test results. Most results will even give you lists of suggestions. Use those lists to come up with several possible options. Then narrow it down to just 1 or 2.
Before you make your final decision, be sure to consider multiple factors with regards to each career option. Things such as does this career path fit your experience, talents, interests, and income needs (you likely won’t make as much, but may still need to make enough to pay the bills)?
- Professional Requirements
Most professions have certain requirements that need to be met in order to enter the profession, including having necessary certifications or other education, a certain skill set, or other requirements. Research these ahead of time so there aren’t any surprises.
You may find that certain requirements are prohibitive to you joining the profession. It’s better to know that on the front end than learning about it after dedicating your time toward (unsuccessfully) entering the profession.
On the other hand, if you’re open to furthering your education to meet those requirements, that’s important to know – and work toward.
- Set and Track Goals
Once you’ve learned about your new chosen career, it’s time to set short term and long term goals for yourself. Create charts, lists, spreadsheets or anything else you need to help you make goals and keep track of your progress with learning new career-related information and practices, getting certified or attaining a degree, or applying to positions and going to interviews.
- Be Patient
Something as big as a career change takes time. That old adage “if at first you fail, try try again” definitely applies here. Expect this change to occur over weeks and months, not days.
Give it time, and if possible set yourself up for success by staying positive and working toward your goals. Those spreadsheets or trackers will be very useful in helping you to see forward momentum even when you don’t feel it.
Deciding what you want and what jobs will meet that desire is the first step to making a career change at 50. After that, you’ll need to figure out what you have to offer a potential new employer and make sure that you can meet any requirements.
With a lot of work and a little patience, you can show them that you’re the right person for the new opportunity you seek!
Making a career switch at 50 is a big step, but it might be just the step you need to find fulfillment and satisfaction during your remaining workforce years! I hope these tips help to simplify the process of changing careers.
Many people make a major career change at 50 and go on to lead happier years than they had before the switch. If that’s something you long for, you can do it too with just a little patience and hard work!