Starting a New Job

Career Change at 40: The Ultimate Guide

June 29, 2021

As you evaluate your current working status, you may feel as though it is time for a change or to follow your passion. Changing careers at 40 means you are more likely to make informed decisions based on true interests and career ambitions. Learning tips for making a career change later in life can help you achieve your career goals. In this article, we tell you how to change careers at 40 and the best professions to look for.

Guide to a career change at 40

Embarking on a career change at 40 may seem daunting. However, it is never too late to invest time into new career aspirations. The desire to take a more fulfilling career route, achieve a higher salary, or stabilise your working schedule are influential factors behind changing your direction. However, if you're looking for instant job search results, your options may depend on your existing skill set, qualifications and level of experience. The following tips can guide anyone looking to change career at 40:

Return to education and upskill

It has become increasingly common for adults of 25-40 to return to institutions of education to strengthen skills critical to the industry they wish to enter or refine an existing skill. Many take relevant part-time or full-time courses at higher education levels or vocational training in subjects such as agriculture or construction, or to prepare for science-based roles. You can also enrol on self-paced online courses that target a certain profession and are easily managed around everyday life.

Talk with a career mentor

Gain valuable advice from a career mentor with expert experience guiding people into work. They can help you set goals that take your family life, interests and financial outlooks into consideration. As a client, you may also receive support submitting job applications that highlight key skills.

Transfer to a different department

Sometimes the opportunity to start a new career at 40 can take place in a different department at your current organisation. Speak to your HR team or managers in the new department about transferring. Take advantage of the fact that you are a known employee and highlight any achievements you have gained at the company. If you don't have the necessary qualifications, propose retraining at the partial expense of your employer.

Network with contacts

After years of employment, you may have picked up useful contacts including past colleagues, university alumni and school friends. Someone you know may now work in a job you are interested in and can provide further connections or knowledge of current job prospects. Consider asking which route they took to achieve their current job title for inspiration.

Create a career plan

Think about what you'd like to achieve in the next five to 10 years and which career may fulfil your ambitions. Take your family into consideration, and decide whether you'll have more freedom to take on more responsibilities or you'll be seeking more free time. When you have a job role in mind, include the possibility of promotion and career progression.

Related: How to Start Building a Rapport with your New Colleagues

What is the best career to start at 40?

Here is a list of occupations that are suitable gateways for anyone looking to restart their career a little later in life:

National average salary: $53,717 per year

Primary duties: A patient care technician works alongside doctors and registered nurses with patient examinations and delivering treatment. In addition, they can collect samples, record medical information, check heath charts and devise a care plan with patients' families. Candidates with none or minimal medical experience can achieve this job role with room for career progression.

National average salary: $74,933 per year

Primary duties: A dental assistant prepares X-rays, sterilises equipment, assists during procedures, prepares tools during check-ups and speaks with patients. The role entails a significant amount of administrative work in updating daily patients' records and booking/rescheduling appointments. Dental assistants have the opportunity to further progress in the dental industry.

National average salary: $59,932 per year

Primary duties: Medical administrative assistants, also known as health care administration assistants, are responsible for the clerical organisation at medical institutions. They efficiently manage the booking system, logging medical information and handling medical reports or prescriptions. The role requires outstanding time management and customer service skills. Most practices prefer candidates to understand medical terminology and possess a first-aid certificate.

National average salary: $88,410 per year teaching at elementary level and $95,633 per year at a high school level

Primary duties: Teachers plan and deliver engaging lessons to help children of all ages learn and develop while aiming for curricular educational outcomes. Candidates often need a university qualification such as a teaching degree undertaken over 4-years or a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject such as science or mathematics.

National average salary: $60,108 per year

Primary duties: A personal trainer is responsible for helping clients achieve their fitness goals through personalised workouts and nutrition advice. Personal training is an excellent job for anyone looking to change their career at 40 seeking more control over their working schedule. You can earn a Certificate IV in Fitness as well as the correct insurances. Personal trainers can take courses at an established institution or online.

National average salary: $109,548 per year

Primary duties: A translator converts information from one language to another. They can translate information from a primary language into a relevant language, ensuring both parties can converse. Similarly, interpreters can communicate with those who experience hearing disabilities. This is a versatile opportunity for anyone that is bilingual or understands sign language.

National average salary: $112,805 per year

Primary duties: The human resources manager manages employee life, coordinating recruitment, and distributing benefits. They are a primary line of communication between managing directors and the various departments while ensuring the legality of actions taken by the organisation.

National average salary: $119,515 per year

Primary duties: Project managers are highly skilled individuals that are responsible for leading a team throughout the planning and implementation stages of a project. They act as a liaison with internal and external stakeholders and team members. A successful project manager displays advanced levels of communication, organisation and leadership.

National average salary: $159,078 per year

Primary duties: Companies heavily rely on information technology specialists to implement, monitor, maintain and upgrade IT systems, software, hardware and security applications. You can demonstrate analytical skills as you solve technical problems and manage data. To enter this role, you can develop your knowledge of information technology at university or another advanced course that teaches multiple programming languages.

Related: How to Find the Best Job for You

Is 40 too old to start a career?

In short, no, 40 is not too old to start a new career. In fact, your existing work ethic, strong experience in a professional setting and credible skill set are often more appealing to employers. Although external factors such as a change in income, relocation or adjusting to entry-level status may alter your decision, we have found a few reasons why changing careers at 40 is a good move:

  • Enter a career that better suits your mental health and family lifestyle.
  • Benefit from transferrable skills you have had time to strengthen, making your job application stand out.
  • Take the opportunity to achieve a qualification or certification that you have always wanted.
  • After gaining several years of work experience, you can have confidence in aligning your career goals with your personal interests.

Related: How to Find Your Passion

How do I restart my career at 40?

Here are useful steps you could take to prepare for a career change at 40, and how to find out more about your new field of work:

  1. Consider in which direction you would like to take your career. Establish clear goals in terms of the type of work you may undertake and salary expectations. Decide whether you are looking for a job that fits in with your family life more easily.
  2. Conduct research on your new field. Get to know the industry you wish to enter, along with the different job roles available. Find out information such as the regular working schedule and whether the pay bracket suits your lifestyle.
  3. Take note of the qualification requirements. Consider the most efficient way you could acquire the necessary qualifications. That could be through a self-paced online course, returning to full-time education or gaining training at your current workplace.
  4. Gain relevant certification. Roles such as engineering, teaching or web developers often require a form of accreditation to certify your skill or specific area of expertise. These assets also lead to higher-paying positions.
  5. Network with professionals. Reach out to old contacts who can provide quality advice on how to achieve your new career goals. In addition, speak with professionals that currently hold the job title you are after for tips on entering the industry. Finally, contact hiring companies for potential vacancies.
  6. Rework your resume. Use this space to depict your new career goals while enhancing your core strengths. Identify and emphasise transferrable skills developed in your current job that apply to a new one.
  7. Start applying for jobs in your new sector. Nowadays, many companies use online job boards and social media to list their latest openings, this is a great place to start.

Related: How to Change Careers


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