How To Navigate a Midlife Career Change Like a Pro in 2023

Joshua StanfordJoshua Stanford | 15 minute read | November 9, 2022
How to Navigate a Midlife Career Change

In this article

The process of changing careers is one that is never easy. For many, the idea of a career is something that you stay in for most of your life. In today’s economy, that’s no longer the case. Midlife career changes are the way that many are finding a better work/life balance and more satisfying employment.

Looking to change careers but worried about taking the leap? Not to worry—you’re in the right place. Below, we’ll tell you all about how to change careers like a pro. 

Is It Too Late To Change My Career?

You are never too late to make a change in your career. For one reason or another, many people fall into the mindset that once they are in a career, they are stuck there. The truth is that thousands successfully transition to completely new careers each year.

Is It Easy To Pursue a Midlife Career Change?

Making a midlife career change is no small task. While rewarding, the process can be complicated and difficult. It takes commitment and a clear understanding of what your priorities are and what kind of career you are going to transition into.

Benefits of Pursuing a Midlife Career Change

The process of changing careers is one that is never easy. For many, the idea of a career is something that you stay in for most of your life. In today’s economy, that’s no longer the case. Midlife career changes are the way that many are finding a better work/life balance and more satisfying employment.

Looking to change careers but worried about taking the leap? Not to worry—you’re in the right place. Below, we’ll tell you all about how to change careers like a pro.

Is It Too Late To Change My Career?

You are never too late to make a change in your career. For one reason or another, many people fall into the mindset that once they are in a career, they are stuck there. The truth is that thousands successfully transition to completely new careers each year.

Is It Easy To Pursue a Midlife Career Change?

Making a midlife career change is no small task. While rewarding, the process can be complicated and difficult. It takes commitment and a clear understanding of what your priorities are and what kind of career you are going to transition into.

Benefits of Pursuing a Midlife Career Change

midlife career change- benefits of changing careers

Source: Align Thoughts

Changing your career can have many great benefits that most do not consider. While pay is a large part of many people’s changes in career, other factors matter too. Let’s break down some of the most common reasons why people change careers:

Higher Salary

One of the best ways to achieve a higher salary is to change jobs every couple of years. While many have gotten used to recruiters and business developers telling them to stay with the same employer for the long haul, research has shown that the best way to achieve salary growth and job satisfaction is to change your job every 3-4 years. A midlife career change is how you ensure that your compensation continues to advance.

Improved Work-Life Balance 

Many pursue a midlife career change in order to achieve a better work-life balance. In today’s workforce, people have been waking up to the fact that their work may just be terrible for their health and wellness. This has led people to look for job options that provide them with adequate PTO, pay and healthcare benefits, and work hours that allow them to disconnect and take breaks from the daily grind.

Flexible Work Options (Entrepreneurship, Consulting, or Freelance Work)

You might be considering a change in your career because you want more flexible work options. As the world sees thousands transition over to remote work, the popularity of flexible, hybrid roles, and even completely remote roles continues to grow. It’s estimated that over 4.7 million people work remotely in the US alone. This number is expected to grow over time as more people see the benefits to their quality of life.

Along with the surge in remote work, the US is seeing a surge in entrepreneurship and freelance workers as well. In a few years, over 86.5 million Americans will be working as freelancers. It’s a trend that comes from many making the decision to shift from their current career path to one that they feel is more rewarding and gives them back the control they want from work.

Make Your Dream Job a Reality

If pay and work/life balance are not your reason for considering a career change, then you may belong to the group of individuals who have made the transition to pursue their dream job. Through a combination of pandemic-related isolation and flexible work options, more people have come to see that they’d rather make less money doing what they love than more money working a job they don’t like doing.

How To Navigate a Midlife Career Change Like a Pro

midlife career change- How to Navigate a Midlife Career Change Like a Pro
  1. Remember: You’re Not Alone

  2. Determine the Ideal Career Path You Want To Pursue

  3. Make a Plan and Give Yourself a Timeline

These are just a few key steps that you can take to navigate your career change.

Remember: You’re Not Alone

It’s estimated that as many as 47 million Americans quit their jobs in 2021. So your desire for something better is shared by many. There is no shortage of resources to help you through the process. All along the way, you’ll find career coaches, training programs, and mentors who each help students through different stages of the process.

Determine the Ideal Career Path You Want To Pursue

Using data from over 1700 students who have all found fulfilling careers, we’ve developed a Career Assessment Test to help you determine what tech career best matches your goals. Through this tool, you can have a better idea of what the skills and interests that you have can help you transition to. There are many different careers you can choose from. The ideal path for you is the one that you can do the best and the one that provides you with the best quality of life.

Make a Plan and Give Yourself a Timeline

No plan is complete without a timeline to keep you on track. Whether it’s a year or just a matter of months, the process will always be easier to carry out and more effective if you take the time to plan ahead and set a timeline for yourself. By giving yourself a plan and a timeline, you’re giving yourself the chance to make the critical decision of beginning your path to a new and rewarding career.

Things To Consider When Making a Midlife Career Change

Things To Consider When Making a Midlife Career Change

Personal Goals

It’s a good idea to ask yourself why you’re making this change. Understanding what you hope to accomplish can give you a better idea of what kind of career to transition into. The life that you want to live, the places that you want to see, and the work that you want to be doing on a regular basis are all driving factors behind your decision-making process.

Financial Needs

You should know what your financial needs and financial goals are. If you have to pursue education and training before you can fully transition to your new role, will you have to spend money on courses or certifications? Can you afford to take a sabbatical while you decide on your next step? How important is compensation? These are all important questions to ask yourself in this process.

Family Responsibilities

One of the biggest reasons people change careers is to achieve a better work/life balance. With so many options for flexible work, your likelihood of finding a job that gives you time with family and better control over your time is higher now than ever before. Plan according to how much time you need off and how much flexibility you need.

Obtain the Requisite Educational Qualifications

No matter what industry you’re transitioning into, education is going to play a key role in the process. Fortunately, there are many options for furthering your education or adding to your skills. You will find as you begin your transition process that the best strategy combines a number of options that make optimal use of time and resources.

Professional Degree

Depending on where you are in your career and what your goals are, a professional degree may be the best option for your career change. Many who have completed undergraduate education go back to school for a master’s degree in order to best facilitate a career change. While this step involves a lot of work and effort, it can be a very high-yield option as it shows dedication to your career change.

Bootcamp

Bootcamps can be a great way to make a career pivot, especially if you’re interested in a career in data science, UI/UX design, coding, cybersecurity, or tech sales. While shorter than a traditional degree, a bootcamp can deliver the same level of knowledge and skills. Depending on the role that you are wanting to transition to, you may find that a bootcamp is the option that best fits your needs. 

Courses and Certifications

There are many courses and certifications that help you achieve your goals. Research your desired job and find the necessary certifications and requirements that you’ll need before you can begin. Many bootcamps provide certifications upon completion and many universities do as well. A certificate can give you proof of your knowledge in a much shorter period of time than a traditional degree. While they do not often offer coaching or career advice, certification providers do provide a verifiable certification that allows you to show proof of your work to a potential employer.

Develop the Necessary Skillset

New careers often require new skills. Before you even begin to apply, look through the education requirements for the role that you are pursuing. Here’s how to make that happen:

Make a List of Your Transferable Skills

midlife career change- Transferable skills

Source: Career Addict

Before you make your transition into another field, take stock of the skills that you have that will transfer over from your current career. More than likely, you have more than you think—soft skills count too. Many people forget that they have been accumulating skills in their current careers. While not all of those skills will be applicable in a new career, there are bound to be many that transfer over.

Build Core Technical Skills

Once you have established what skills will transfer over from your career, you can then begin filling the gaps between where you are and where you need to be. For many midlife career changes, the only thing missing from a successful application is a few key technical skills.

Learn the Basics

Many jobs that you can transition into only have a few basic tools and software that you’ll need in order to make a successful transition. While many career changes are drastic and life-changing, the majority are simply taking skills that you have and applying them in a new career. 

Find a Mentor

midlife career change- Find a mentor

Mentorship is often the difference between a successful career transition and a failed one. Keep in mind that you’re not limited to how many people you treat as a mentor. Oftentimes, successful career changers have two or more people giving them advice on how to make a successful transition. 

Gain Experience by Pursuing Projects, Volunteer Work, or Freelance Work

No matter what industry you’re transitioning into, there are always options to gain experience. While not every career has volunteer or freelance opportunities, those that do have job boards and freelance work options that are available for free or with a small fee. This can be an easy way to find out more about the career you want to do and try out some of the work in that field before you make a formal commitment to it. 

Build a Strong Network

midlife career change- Build a Strong Network

One of the best ways to ensure your success is by building a strong network of like-minded people from different backgrounds. Here are some ways to do that:

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the best ways to develop a strong network outside of attending events. The algorithm can connect you with hundreds, even thousands, of professionals who are pursuing similar goals or who can help you pursue your own.

Online Communities

Many online communities have developed to meet the needs of those who are transitioning into a midlife career change. From websites to forums and social media groups, communities are forming everywhere to help each other navigate the process. Many influencers and content creators have also begun highlighting their own non-traditional pathways and processes that got them to where they are.

Conferences and Workshops

Conferences provide great environments for discussing industry topics. With much of the professional world switching over to virtual platforms, finding a conference or workshop that is completely online is no longer difficult. From anywhere and any time, you can now join a community of professionals who have similar interests and similar goals to yours.

Customize Your Resume, Prepare a Portfolio, and Start Applying for Jobs

Take some time to read about what application features your dream job favors. If you’re applying for a job in coding or design, then you’ll need to have a strong portfolio. Jobs in project management may prefer to see a strong resume and past work experience in a more traditional format, with reviews from past team members. If you choose to go into entrepreneurship as a freelancer or a consultant, both your portfolio and reviews from past clients are crucial. Finding out what your desired career requires can ensure a smooth transition into an entry-level role.

Jobs To Consider for a Midlife Career Change

These are some great options for you to consider as potential alternatives to your current career.

Project Manager

midlife career change- project manager

Source: Techno PM

One of the most valuable assets that most people underutilize is their experience. If you have experience in working through large-scale projects with others and do well in supervisory roles, then project management could be a great option for you. As a project manager, you will oversee the operations of your team, develop plans, and help others reach their own potential through operational strategies. 

Software Engineer

midlife career change- software engineer

Source: Sarkari

As a software engineer, you will design and develop software, applications, and algorithms to solve problems within your industry. While no formal education is required, you’ll need to have an understanding of programming languages and software development before you can get a job in software engineering. There are many software engineering bootcamps that can help you gain the skills that you need. 

UX Designer

midlife career change- ux designer
Source: Maze

If you have experience in research, design, or web development, you can find a rewarding position as a UI/UX designer. As a UX designer, you’ll design ways to make applications and websites more user-friendly and more easily navigable. If you have people skills and a creative side, this could be a great option for you. All it takes is training for the job through a training program or a UX design bootcamp to prepare you. UX design teams are made up of diverse groups of people with many different backgrounds, making entry into a popular option among midlife career changers.

Salesforce Administrator

midlife career change- sales administrator
Source: SkyPlanner

If you’ve worked in sales and have an understanding of the Salesforce platform, you can leverage this knowledge to work as a salesforce administrator. Taking on the role of the administrator, you’ll be responsible for managing roles, workflows, and groups. If you have a winning combination of strong organizational abilities and people skills, you may find this role both rewarding and enriching.

Consultant or Freelancer

midlife career change- Consultant or Freelancer
Source: Website Planet

Many professionals who have spent several years in their field are in a great position to strike out on their own as a consultant or a freelancer. In these roles, you’ll find that your flexibility can potentially be much greater than if you are working for an employer. To successfully transition into a consultant or freelance role, you have to have great organizational skills, time management skills, and some sales skills as well.

Data Scientist

midlife career change- Data Scientist
Source: Tibco

Data science is at the crossroads of industry knowledge and statistical analysis. Becoming a data scientist is a great option for those who enjoy analytical processes and working with numbers to solve problems for clients or employers. 

Customer Success Executive

midlife career change- Customer Success Executive

Source: Alpha

Becoming a customer success executive is a great option for those with sales experience. In this role, you’ll take those skills to the next level as you work to improve customer experiences and retention.

Real Estate Agent

midlife career change- Real Estate Agent Duties
Source: Rethority

Many people with untapped sales potential find work in real estate to be very satisfying. If you enjoy helping others find a good home and want to advocate for your clients, you may find that becoming a real estate agent can help you put these skills to good use. From people skills to financial planning and advertising, many skills that professionals pick up along the way are applicable in real estate.

Entrepreneur

midlife career change- Entrepreneur

Source: Charlie Harary

A lot of people who have quit their day jobs have found satisfaction in a career as an entrepreneur. With so many going into entrepreneurial roles, this is a popular choice. While it may require a significant amount of time and education, depending on your skill level, the independence that this choice can give you is one that makes it a dream job option for many.

Examples of Successful People Who Made a Midlife Career Change

These are just a few of the many people who have made difficult transitions themselves and are now coaching others on how to do the same.

Lucia Knight

midlife career change- Lucia Knight

Source: Midlife Unstuck

Lucia Knight is an author and the owner of the website Midlife Unstuck. Through her work as a career consultant and the author of several books, she has shown many how to pursue the life that they desire, no matter how late in the game they begin that process.

midlife career change- podcast on midlife career design

Iris Smyth

Iris Smith

Iris Smyth made a massive shift in her career at a point where she thought she wouldn’t be able to. She developed her website and began creating content on YouTube to help others make similar steps in their life as well. For those who think that changing the direction of their career is just no longer possible, for whatever reason, Iris has the solutions.

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She has helped many make the difficult journey that she had to make and continues to help her clients develop themselves in Travis Rodgersroles where they are happy, healthy, and appreciated.

Travis Rodgers

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Travis Rodgers is a self-taught software developer and YouTuber who teaches others how to transition into the tech-space. At the age of 34, Travis made the decision to leave a job that he hated and make the difficult move to tech by learning to code. His philosophy is that it is never too late to make the change and that there are many opportunities for those who want to transfer their skills into software development. Travis is a prolific writer who runs a blog where he gives tips on how to navigate the transition process and contributes regularly to his GitHub account.

Nicole Young

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Nicole Young is a self-taught software developer and remote tech worker who offers valuable advice on how to successfully transition into a rewarding tech career. She creates content on how others can also make this transition and posts regularly to YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram.

FAQs About a Midlife Career Change

These are some commonly asked questions by those making a midlife career change.

What Is an Easy Career That Pays Well?

Each career path will require a certain amount of effort. However, it’s important to note that some may fit your personality and skills better. If you’ve been in the workforce for some time, you can easily find roles that fit your current expertise. From there, you can upskill and network to find the right role that compliments your experience.

What Should I Include on My Resume After a Career Change?

When navigating a new career, a lot of people make the mistake of glossing over their past experience. Instead, include any and all relevant experience and skills that you have acquired over the years. You will want to include your experience and be proud of the things that you have accomplished during your career. Technical jobs that require you to upskill will find your experience from your past career as skills that help you stand out from other applicants.

How Old Is Too Old for a Career Change?

There’s no limitation on when to make your career change. The more experience that you have, the more reasons you have to be confident about your chances of a successful transition. You are always able to make the necessary changes to help you achieve a better work/life balance.

Joshua Stanford

About Joshua Stanford

Joshua Stanford is a content writer and copy editor with a background in academic writing. While he has written on several topics and industries, he focuses primarily on scientific writing and educational materials related to biotech and emerging technologies.