The average American typically changes jobs 10 to 15 times in their lifetime. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, does not keep track of career changes because there is no agreement on what constitutes a career change. So no one really knows how many people shift to a second career. What is known as the days of staying in one career until retirement is no longer a reality, and that is a good thing.
Why are Americans changing careers in their 30s or 40s?
Well, the answer to the question varies from person to person. One individual may be tired of working from 9 to 5 in a dead end job. Another person may not have gained as much financial stability as he thought when entering the career field. You want a career you can be passionate about and love to do every day.
Personal Reasons You Desire a Career Shift
A career change simply means working in a different career field. For instance, your first career was as a secretary. You decide to switch careers and work as a paralegal or nurse because you want to help people or make a difference. A Time article listed the top reasons why people change jobs. The reasons include:
- Company downsizing or restructuring.
- Possible job relocation.
- Company closing.
- To improve work life.
- Poor relationships with co-workers or managers.
- Not a good fit with the company.
- Personal contributions were not valued by the company.
- Ineffective leadership at work.
As you notice, a lot of the reasons listed are related to an external event, such downsizing. These are good reasons. However, you may relate to more personal reasons. Some of the following reasons are why our students decide to seek a second career:
1. Do you feel consistently worn out, depleted, and exhausted working in your current career?
You feel emotionally, mentally, and physically drained by the work you do in your profession. You pray for the weekend. You dread the week days. You are thinking about work even when you are not at work. When you are not thinking about work, you are dreaming about a fresh start.
If you are experiencing these emotions, you are ready for a second career.
2. Is your current work situation not what you want to do for the rest of your life?
This is a shock for people who are great at doing any job. You are using your skills and abilities to do a job that is not in your wheelhouse. It doesn’t take long to realize your first career is not your dream job. It doesn’t matter how good you are at doing the work.
3. Is money no longer compensating for the emptiness and boredom you experience in your current career?
You hate your job, but the money is good. Most people who dislike their jobs often stay for the money. It is only when they rethink priorities does happiness outrank money.
If the money you make in your current career no longer compensates for being unfulfilled, guess what? Yes, you deserve a second career.
4. Have you made all the right career choices, but your current career feels so wrong?
You did all the hard work and made all the right choices. In fact, you’ve done everything expected of you. Yet you are wondering, “Is this where I really belong?”
You’ve done everything right. Now it’s time to do everything right for you and your second, more meaningful career.
5. Do you feel your abilities and talents could be used in a more impactful way in another career?
Of course, you are not interested in going on television to announce you are taking your talents to South Beach. However, you feel like your talents and abilities can be used better in another career.
It’s time for a second career.
The need to change careers because of age is not on the list. For many people, age is a reason people resist changing careers. You feel like you are too old to make a career shift. You don’t have the skills or abilities to make a fresh start. You don’t want to learn how to change careers. You like the money you make, but not the work you do. You are not satisfied doing the same work every day.
Never fear changing careers. The following individuals prove the first career is not always the best career:
- Actor Brad Pitt’s first career was as a limo driver.
- Actor Sylvester Stallone worked as a deli counter assistant.
- Walt Disney’s first career was as a newspaper editor. Allegedly he was fired because didn’t have any good ideas or imagination.
- Julia Child worked for the United States as a spy before her starting her second career cooking French cuisine.
The individuals listed above prove it’s never too late for a career change.
Midlife Career Change Tips
You know you are ready for a career change, but what is the next step? The following are tips on how to find a job you love:
- Be practical. To move into a new career will require upgrading your skills and abilities. Taking classes to enter your second career will give you the needed training, education and direction you need to take the first step to your new career.
- Have a mental picture of achieving your career goal. Find a photograph or image which symbolizes achieving your career, then put it in a prominent place. It will help you keep focused getting your new career.
- Research. Find out the jobs available in your future career industry now. It will give you an idea of the training you’ll need to start your second career.
- Remain flexible about salary. Starting a new career field usually means an entry-level salary.
- Take small steps first. You want to find a mentor in the industry and speak with a college representative to discover more insight into your new career.
The Best Jobs for a Midlife Career Change
Some careers are better to transition into in your 30s or 40s than others for several reasons. For example, they don’t require a lot of education and/or training. Maybe you need an associate degree or certificate. Another reason some careers are better for midlife is because people seem to enjoy them more as a second career.
Here’s a list of the top 10 best career change jobs for those considering a midlife career change.
Becoming a dental assistant requires an associate degree or Diploma. As a dental assistant, you are responsible for preparing patients for dental procedures, assisting dentists during procedures, and front-office work.
2. Veterinary Technician or Technologist
This is a great second career for anyone who loves to work with animals. You comfort and care for injured or ill animals. Also, you have job duties similar to a nurse because you assist veterinarians the same way a nurse would help a doctor. For instance, you collect blood samples from animals for testing. You need an associate degree to make this your second career.
3. Personal Trainer
If you enjoy helping others reach their fitness and health goals, becoming a fitness trainer is a great second career. You design exercise regimens, measure clients’ performance, and keep them motivated. There are many ways to become a personal trainer through online certification programs and courses.
4. Massage Therapist
Becoming a massage therapist requires a Diploma or certificate. As a massage therapist you have the tender touch to help patients recover from illness, painful injuries, and overcome stress.
5. Patient Care Technician
Working as a patient care technician requires a Diploma. You are responsible for tending to patients’ needs and nursing duties like collecting blood samples.
This career is flexible. You can work at home or in a medical facility. You are responsible for organizing and analyzing health insurance claim forms. You assign them the proper code according to the type of procedure, disease, or surgery the patient is charged for. The career requires an associate degree in the field.
You have a natural talent for style and beauty? Cosmetology is a great second career. You are responsible for giving clients a new look with different hairstyles, coloring and perms. This is another career where you can work for yourself. It requires a certificate.
A business management career is ideal for anyone wanting to transition into business. It allows for entry-level management and hands-on-training in business law. You have an opportunity to work in a variety of careers, including human resources, computer systems, and owning your own business. You can obtain a business management associate degree to prepare for a job as an assistant manager, team lead, bookkeeper, or many other roles.
Are you a problem solver and love computers? Information technology is an ideal second career for anyone who loves working with computer hardware and software. You are responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly in an IT department. You can start with an associate’s degree in information technology.
A career in business administration gives you the experience to work in different settings such as finance and computer information systems. You can also learn management, leadership, and communication skills by obtaining this Diploma.
How to Find the Job You Love
Changing from one career to another takes commitment and focus. You also must take steps to meet short- and long-term goals. Some goals apply to everyone regardless of age. For instance, it’s best to overhaul your resume to highlight desired experiences and skills wanted in your second career. Another general goal is to write cover letters which briefly explain why you seek a career change and how you can add value to your new employer.
Other steps to transition from one career to another often depend on your age. In your 30s, you’re still getting to know yourself and your interests. Once you’ve reached your 40s, you have a better perspective on who you are and what career will fulfill you more. Here are tips to help you reach a second career goal according to how old you are.
How To Change Careers at 30
You’ve done your time racing to get into the career you thought you loved. You have at least 10 years in your career to know it’s not the right one for you. However, resist the urge to race into a second career. Instead, plan.
1. Go for Natural Abilities, Not Interests
In your 30s, your interests may not translate into a satisfying career. In fact, trusting your interests may lead you to a dead-end road because you are still discovering your identity. Figure out your natural abilities and strengths.
2. Go to College or Back to College
More education helps you to find your career direction. However, hold off on graduate school until you actually know what you want to do. Many people in their 30s rush to graduate school only to find out they only need a little more education such as a certificate to enter their desired career field. Another problem is they rush into graduate school and just pick a program for the money.
For instance, you have a four-year degree. You want to become a paralegal. You can obtain a paralegal associate of applied science in less than a year and a half.
3. Choose to Solve a Problem
Career titles are alluring. The title of “lawyer” sounds like an action-packed, fast-paced thrill. However, the day-to-day tasks of lawyers may leave people unfilled. So research each possible second career before committing to one.
Many individuals choose to solve a problem with their career. This may include helping people become fit by working as a personal trainer or working in business management.
4. Be You
Resist the temptation to follow the career path most 30-year-olds take. Picking a career from the list of hot jobs for 30-year-olds may seem interesting now, but what about in 10 or 20 years?
Career dissatisfaction at this time in life usually comes from being overly optimistic. If everyone is choosing this career, it must be good. That isn’t the case in every career move. Remember, the smart career decisions often come from leaving the herd behind and discovering a career which is right for you.
5. Never Settle
You don’t want a second career for now, right? You want a second career you can enjoy until you retire. The best tip is to think long term and be confident about your second career. Know it is something you want to do until you retire.
How to Change Careers at 40
You are in your 40s, and the thought of going to your job for one more day makes you physically ill. You’re past the decade where you are ready to rush into a new career. You have more work years and you know your interests. You’re ready to complete the following tips.
1. Believe You Deserve a Second Career
Fear can make you stall your transition into a second career. You may have a family, home, and successful marriage, and you are worried that obtaining a second career will change those things for the worst. Don’t fear transition. You are at the point in your life where you have the knowledge and experience to transition without a major problem.
2. Resist the Challenge of Shifting to a Second Career by Yourself
You shouldn’t shift to your second career alone. You have advantages over younger workers. You know people. Use those connections to network.
3. Use Time Wisely
Take time to gain the experience and skills you need. Go to school to learn what you need to know. Intern. Yes, intern. It’s a good way to gain more experience.
4. Pick a Career Based on Interests and Strengths
Your second career is more fulfilling when you can spend time doing what you love.
5. Decide Whether You Want to Work for Yourself or Someone Else
If you want to work for yourself, prepare to do so. Take some classes in business along with gaining the education for your chosen career.
Your Second Career is Waiting for You
Whether you are changing careers in your 30s or 40s, you want to do things right. The best jobs for a midlife career change may not be what you want to do. Don’t let that stop you. Finding the career you love involves research, education and confidence. Age doesn’t matter. Being happy in your new career matters.