How to Make a Successful Career Change at 50

Life is a journey filled with opportunities to grow, evolve, and embark on new adventures. If you find yourself at a crossroads, contemplating a career change at 50, you may wonder: is it too late?

The short answer? No! 

Frankly, the idea of a career for life is outdated. Indeed, the opposite is true. According to Zippia, the average person will have 12 careers during their lifetime and employers everywhere are awakening to the immense value that mature employees can offer.

Even if you’re considering self-employment, there’s no better time: Self-employment is at an all-time high.

Whether you’re yearning to explore uncharted territories, start your own business, or seek a more relaxed path as you wind down for retirement, you are not alone. The journey ahead for career changers in their fifties can be just as, if not more, exciting than the path of a 20-year-old graduate entering the job market for the first time.

In this guide, we will dispel the myth that 50 is too old to change careers and explore the perks and challenges you might encounter. Here are the topics we will cover:

  1. Should you start a new career at 50?
  2. How to make a career change at 50
  3. Great jobs for career changers
  4. Tips for making a career change at 50
  5. Key takeaways

Ready to get inspired? Then let’s go!

1. Should you start a new career at 50?

The idea of a career change at 50 can be daunting, especially if you’ve been in your current career for a significant portion of your life: but age simply isn’t a factor stopping you from finding career fulfillment.

This section will explore factors to consider when deciding whether to embark on a career change at 50. This includes the advantages and potential pitfalls, ultimately empowering you to make an informed choice about your future.

Advantages include:

  • There’s never been a better time to change careers: Even ten years ago, you wouldn’t have nearly the same opportunities available. Recent advancements in technology and flexible work arrangements mean there are more possibilities than ever for older career changers. Online courses, certifications, and vocational training have also expanded rapidly in the past decade,  providing ever-easier access to the skills and knowledge you need to transition.
  • The job market is more inclusive: In many industries, the job market is much more diverse than it used to be. There are new opportunities for those from a wide range of ages and backgrounds. While progress isn’t always as fast as we might like, many employers are starting to appreciate the unique perspectives and skill sets that older workers bring.
  • Transferable skills: With 50-odd years of life experience, you’ll have accumulated tons of transferable skills. Throughout your career and daily life, you’ll have developed skills such as leadership, project management, and communication, not to mention unique technical skills and industry knowledge. Even if you don’t realize it, all this is extremely valuable as you change paths.
  • Greater personal insight: As you grow older you will know yourself better. A career change at 50 offers a unique opportunity for personal and professional development because you’ll have learned what you want out of life. But if you’re willing to embrace the change, you can challenge yourself in fresh ways, pick up novel skills and expand your horizons.

Of course, changing careers at 50 can also present some challenges, too. While these shouldn’t be deal-breakers, it’s worth reflecting on them before starting your career shift:

  • Addressing the skills gap: Depending on your chosen career, you’ll need to acquire new skills or update existing ones. This can be tough at 50. You may be used to relying on capabilities that aren’t well suited to emerging industries and roles. Bridging the skills gap will involve investing time and money as you gain certifications and on-the-job training.
  • Age discrimination: While things have improved in recent decades, age bias still exists. Even if it is not immediately visible or even deliberately intentional, many employers unconsciously favor younger candidates. They may assume that they are either more adaptable or technologically proficient. Highlight your maturity and experience as strengths that can add value.
  • Work-life balance: Starting a new career can be rewarding but also demanding. You might not have the same energy at 50 as at 20. That’s fine but be prepared to set clear boundaries between your work and personal life, and potentially invest in further education or training. Prioritize self-care during this transition period.
  • Retirement planning: Starting a new career at 50 may impact your retirement plans and savings. Before making any big decisions, evaluate your finances to ensure you have adequate retirement provisions while navigating your career transition.

Regardless of age, starting a new career later in life can bring many advantages and a clearer sense of purpose. While it’s vital to focus on these, assess your motivations, weigh the challenges against rewards, and seek support when needed.

2. How to make a career change at 50

So you’re ready to take the plunge? Great! Here are some steps to get you started with your career change at 50:

1. Assess your transferrable skills

Your first step is to identify skills and experiences you’ve obtained throughout your existing career.

Ask yourself: what new industries or roles could you apply these to? For example, if you’ve previously worked in finance, this can be applied to many emerging industries, from green industries to fintech.

2. Engage in confidence-building activities

Low confidence is one of the biggest barriers to making a career change at 50.

Embrace new challenges, volunteer in your desired field, or join relevant professional organizations and networking groups. This can give you the confidence you need to put yourself out there.

3. Research age-friendly industries

OK, you already know what you want to do. But it’s also worth exploring industries you might not have considered, specifically those that appreciate the maturity, wisdom, and expertise that come with age. We’ll cover this more in section 3.

4. Utilize your network

Tap into your professional network of industry peers, former colleagues, and friends. Attend events in the industry that interests you.

All this can provide invaluable insights into different roles and careers, not to mention further networking opportunities and job leads.

5. Consider entrepreneurial ventures

Starting your own business or consulting practice is a great option. Evaluate the market demand for your skills and expertise to determine if this path is viable.

6. Update your skills

You should identify any skills gaps holding you back from your desired career. Seek courses, workshops, or certifications to enhance your knowledge and commitment to lifelong learning.

7. Create a career transition plan

Develop a career plan that outlines your goals, timelines, and action steps for making a successful career change at 50. 

This might include research and networking, updating your resume and skills, or conducting informational interviews to learn more about your field of interest. Break down your plan into smaller, manageable chunks to stay focused and motivated.

3. Great jobs for career changers

The path you choose will be highly personal to you. From UX design to data analytics and technical writing, the possibilities for older individuals are practically limitless.

Ultimately, the best job for a career changer at 50 will depend on your skills, interests, and goals. Whichever path you choose, though, it will be an exciting time that brings you a renewed sense of purpose.

And if you’re worried about starting out as a junior, something to consider is you can already move into a more “senior” field, even in one in which you’re new to it. 

For example, in a new role, you could still work in leadership or as a senior within: 

  • Consultancy
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Teaching
  • Non-profit leadership

Here are a few jobs great for career changers, 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. Tips for making a career change at 50

Last but not least, here are a few mindset tips for helping you make a career change at 50:

  • Be willing to step out of your comfort zone: It might sound like a given, but this is your opportunity to explore new industries, roles, and possibilities. Embrace the adventure. Stay open to new ways of thinking and any unexpected opportunities that may come your way.
  • Network with the unexpected: Don’t limit your networking efforts to traditional avenues, even if that’s what you’re used to. Explore unique opportunities you might not normally consider, such as local meetups or online forums.
  • Embrace technology and digital platforms: Technology has transformed how we work and connect. Embracing digital platforms and tools will help you transition more easily than choosing to ignore them.
  • Adopt a lifelong learning mindset: If you’re open to a career change at 50, then be open to learning new things, too. Stay curious and commit to ongoing personal development, not just in your career but in life. Embracing this mindset will boost your confidence while making you more adaptable to the fast-changing career landscape.
  • Start a side hustle: Consider starting a side business or pursuing a creative hobby alongside your career change. It could be anything from sewing clothes to writing a blog about your experiences or launching a YouTube channel. Not only will this provide a creative outlet, but you may be surprised by the opportunities it offers.
  • Create a vision board: A vision board represents your ideal career and lifestyle. Use magazine cutouts, drawings, and digital tools to visualize your dreams and goals. Hang it somewhere prominent to remind yourself of the future you’re working towards.
  • Take risks and embrace failure: Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. It can be a valuable learning experience, even if things don’t pan out as planned. Experiment, make mistakes, and be willing to pivot along the way. In a world where the job market is changing at speed, this mindset will help build the resilience you need to thrive.

5. Key takeaways

So there we have it; everything to consider if you want to know how to make a career change at 50! Here are some takeaways:

  • Don’t let age or low confidence stop you from pursuing a career change. The job market is more inclusive than ever, and older workers can bring immense value.
  • Assess the advantages and challenges of making a career change at 50. Consider your transferable skills, skills gap, work-life balance, and retirement plans.
  • To increase your chances of success, create a career transition plan that outlines how you’ll upskill. Don’t forget to engage in confidence-building activities, such as volunteering and research. 
  • Consider industries popular with those who change careers later in life. These include consultancy, coaching and mentoring, teaching, non-profit work, and technology careers.
  • Adopt a growth mindset and remember: life begins where your comfort zone ends!

While embracing career change at 50 can be daunting, it presents a fantastic opportunity for personal and professional growth. With the right mindset, planning, and support, you can embark on a rewarding new chapter in your professional life.

Need more support? CareerFoundry is built around the career change journey—from helping you make the initial decision all the way through to guaranteed job placement. Speak to a CareerFoundry program advisor to discover how our programs can help prepare you for a new career.

If you enjoyed this article, then check out the following career change guides for more:

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