How To Make a Successful Career Change at 40

They say life begins at 40. When reaching this milestone, many take the time to evaluate their career satisfaction. As a result, often the question comes up: Can I make a career change at 40?

The answer, of course, is a resounding yes.

It’s never too late to embrace change, redefine success, and discover a career that resonates with your passions and aspirations.

An important benefit is that at 40, you’ll have the experience that your younger counterparts simply can’t compete with.

The main challenge for most later-stage career changers is finding the confidence to pursue a new path. So, in this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of career change at 40, equipping you with practical strategies, unveiling exciting career options, and providing invaluable insights to ensure you can make a triumphant transition!

We’ll cover:

  1. Is it possible to start a new career at 40?
  2. How to make a career change at 40
  3. Great jobs for career changers
  4. Key takeaways

Let’s get started.

1. Is it possible to start a new career at 40?

First, is it feasible to start a new career at 40? The short answer is yes: it is absolutely possible. 

People choose to make a career change at this stage of life for various reasons. Perhaps you’re seeking fulfillment with a new challenge or a renewed sense of purpose. Maybe you’re escaping a job you never enjoyed that much in the first place, are planning to relocate, or want to earn more. 

Whatever your motivation, the first thing to know is that while making a career change at 40 requires a bit of effort and adjustment, there are also myriad advantages to pursuing a new path at this stage of life.

These include:

  • Experience and transferable skills: At 40, your experience and transferable skills will be highly applicable to new fields. These include leadership abilities, problem-solving, and industry knowledge—all assets that will help you stand out.
  • Professional network: By now, you’ll likely have a solid professional network, a valuable resource as you transition to a new career. Networking isn’t only good for job leads (although that too!) but for getting insights into different disciplines and roles from other professionals, family, and friends.
  • Financial stability: While there’s no guarantee you’ll be financially solvent, by age 40, you’ll probably be more stable than your younger colleagues. This can be a great cushion during the transition period when you can face additional training expenses and an initial decrease in income.
  • Personal fulfillment: It’s easy when we’re young to “fall into” a career. The main benefit of pursuing a new path at 40 is that you’ll have a clearer idea of what fulfills you. Aligning your work with your passions will lead to better job satisfaction and improved overall well-being.

Of course, it’s not all smooth sailing. While changing to a new career at 40 comes with some challenges, the first step to overcoming these is to be aware of them.

  • Greater adjustment period: If you’re already established in a specific professional field, transitioning to a new career at 40 can require significant adjustment. Be prepared to acquire new skills, update your knowledge, and potentially pursue additional training.
  • Financial considerations: Changing careers at 40 typically means sacrificing a degree of seniority and taking a pay cut. This transition may require careful financial planning as you adjust to a lower income level, at least initially.
  • Family and personal responsibilities: Those aged 40 plus are more likely to have family obligations. This could be a spouse, children, aging parents, or all of these. Balancing these responsibilities while pursuing a new career can add additional pressure and time constraints you’ll need to factor in.
  • Networking and connections: As we mentioned, your established professional network will be useful. However, on the flip side, you’ll also have to find new contacts in a brand-new industry. This will involve proactive networking, attending industry events, and so on. Something to keep in mind!

While these challenges aren’t insignificant, none of them are insurmountable. Familiarizing yourself with them means you can enter with open eyes, tackling any problems as they arise.

2. How to make a career change at 40

There are some key steps that anyone making a career change should take. If you’re considering how to make a career change at 40, reflect on the following:

1. Evaluate your skills and interests

Take time to assess your skills, strengths, and interests. Next, identify potential career paths that align with these. Even if you aren’t thrilled by your current career, consider which aspects of your role appeal the most. 

Can you expand upon these and transfer them to a new field that grabs your attention more? For instance, if you’ve historically worked in finance but enjoy working with people, maybe you could consider a new role in HR.

2. Explore your options

Once you’ve established your interest areas, research industries and job roles that catch your eye. Track emerging trends and growth areas, too. For example, artificial intelligence or the green industries. Attend industry events, join professional networks, and talk to other professionals about their roles. 

There’s likely a perfect career for you, but you may not even know it exists until someone tells you about it. So stay open-minded!

3. Choose areas where you can upskill

Decide which skills or qualifications will serve you best in your desired new career. You might want to consider enrolling in relevant courses, workshops, or certification programs to expand your knowledge.

CareerFoundry offers a range of free short courses for you to upskill and see what you think of a new career path. 

4. Use your network

Make the most of your professional network to build new connections in your target industry. Even if you haven’t done it before, check out online communities to see what guidance and potential job leads you can find.

5. Consider part-time or freelance work

If you’re used to working full-time, seeking part-time or freelance opportunities might seem scary. But it’s great for gaining practical experience and testing the waters before making a complete transition. 

Plus, part-time work is increasingly becoming the norm. Why not embrace having some extra free time?

6. Update your resume and online profiles

It might be a while since you last applied for jobs, so ensure your resume highlights your transferable skills and achievements. If you’re not on sites like LinkedIn, set up a presence there: building a network online is invaluable! Using appropriate keywords and industry-specific terminology can increase your visibility to potential employers. 

Look out for online platforms commonly used in your chosen industry. Those working in programming and data analytics, for example, often use sites like Stack Overflow, which can be a valuable source of information.

When it comes to applying for jobs, a career change cover letter is a crucial element to bear in mind.

7. Seek guidance from a career coach or mentor

Depending on how you get on, consider hiring a career coach or mentor to help guide you through your career change journey. 

This is not quite like a career advisor—a coach or mentor will help you identify your strengths and improvement areas. You can then create a strategic plan for success. That might mean finding a new role in your current industry or mixing things up completely.

The main thing to remember is that career change can be a gradual process, especially when you’re a bit older and adjusting to a labor market that is very different from when you first started out. But with a little planning and persistence, you can prepare yourself for setbacks and should be able to achieve your career goals in no time.

two 40 year old workers talk at a table with a laptop

3. Great jobs for career changers

Next up, which role might be right for you?

While this will be a highly personal choice, there are some common areas that many people move into when changing career paths. These broad disciplines apply to various industries, providing flexibility and opportunities to work in a wide array of areas.

Here are a few of them to spark some inspiration:

  • Digital Marketing Specialist: Boosting brand visibility and customer acquisition via digital channels, these professionals employ skills in SEO, content marketing, and data analytics.
  • Financial Analyst: Perfect for those who excel at interpreting financial data to aid business decisions, calling on a keen sense of numbers and strategic planning.
  • UI/UX Designer: Focusing on enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability and accessibility of digital products, success here stems from an empathetic, user-centric design approach.
  • Human Resources (HR): HR professionals play a vital role in managing talent, fostering employee development, and ensuring a positive work environment.
  • Web Developer: As creators and maintainers of websites or web applications, web developers are in high demand across diverse industries, offering a promising career trajectory.
  • Business Manager: Overseeing operations, implementing strategies, and leading teams characterize this role. Stellar leadership and decision-making skills can pave the way for a gratifying experience.
  • Product Manager: Monitoring the entire product life cycle, these professionals act as the bridge between business, technology, and user needs.
  • Data Analyst: Crucial to business strategy, data analysts transform raw data into meaningful insights to guide decision-making. If analytical thinking and statistical knowledge are your strengths, this could be an ideal role for you.

Be sure to try our free tech career quiz to see which tech role is ideal for you.

4. Key takeaways

So there we have it! In this post, we’ve explored how to make a career change at 40. Here are some of the key takeaways in a nutshell:

  • Starting a new career at 40 is not just common; it can bring fresh fulfillment and purpose to life. All it requires is solid planning and a solid shot of confidence.
  • Some advantages to making a career change at 40 include your rich experience and transferable skills, a mature professional network, and financial stability to cushion you from changes.
  • Of course, it’s also important to be aware of some of the challenges. A career change will require some significant mental adjustment, and it will likely have a short-term impact on your finances and personal responsibilities.
  • Some steps you can take towards making a career change at 40 include evaluating your skills and interests, exploring different career options, upskilling if necessary, and seeking guidance from a career coach or mentor.
  • Areas that tend to attract those changing careers at 40 include broadly applicable disciplines like project management and human resources, but also sector-specific roles such as those in healthcare and technology.

Ultimately, a career change at any age is a highly personal journey of discovery. But with proper planning and a positive mindset, you can successfully transition into a fulfilling new career at 40. Keep an open mind, and anything is possible!

Want to find out more? Speak to a CareerFoundry program advisor to learn how our courses can help prepare you for a new career.

Enjoyed this article? Then give these a shot:

What You Should Do Now

  1. Check out one of our free short courses in design, data analytics, coding, digital marketing, and product management.

  2. Become a qualified UX designer, UI designer, web developer, product manager, digital marketer, or data analyst in less than a year—complete with a job guarantee.

  3. Talk to a program advisor to discuss career change and find out which fields are best for you, or check out recent graduate Tanimara’s successful career-change story.

  4. This February, we’re offering a limited-time deal worth up to $1,365 off—on all of our career-change programs 🎉 Book your application call and secure your spot now!

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