How to Navigate a Midlife Career Change: Step-by-Step Guide
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A midlife career change can be challenging, but it might also be the best decision you ever make. Many mid-life professionals find themselves in declining industries like newspaper publishing or cable television and realize that the grass is greener in tech, where there are new opportunities every day.
Others hit mid-life and simply feel stuck. Maybe they no longer feel challenged or can’t see a path forward from where they are. Or perhaps they want more flexibility and work-life balance, and they see that happening for professionals in other industries.
Whatever the reason, one thing is certain—in today’s dynamic professional world, mid-life workers have more opportunities than ever.
When Is a Good Time to Shift to a New Career?
Since you’ve chosen to read this article, it’s a fairly safe bet that you’re considering a career change. You’re not alone—not by a long shot! The average career changer is 39 years old.
Why? It’s partially because midlife is more stable. On average, people tend to meet milestones like finding a spouse and buying a first home in their 20s or early 30s. By 40-ish, things have settled down a bit.
If you find yourself in a stable position with experience you’ve built up over the years, but you’re not feeling fulfilled in your current field, it may be a great time for a switch.
Benefits of Pursuing a New Career Path
A midlife career change can improve your prospects across the board. You can secure:
- Higher salary
- Better work-life balance
- More fulfilling work
- More flexibility
- Entrepreneurship opportunities
You might find some of these in your current field, but a career transition gives you more options. Consider this list of fast-growing, high-paying, high-satisfaction jobs:
Some of the fastest-growing jobs also have flexible work options. Examples include:
- Information security analyst: 31.2% growth, median salary $99,730
- Quality assurance analyst: 21.5% growth, median salary $107,510
- Operations research analyst: 24.8% growth, median salary $84,810
How To Decide on a New Career
The number of second career options can be overwhelming, so narrow your choices by pinpointing your motivation. Maybe you want to pursue your passion, no matter the pay grade. Or maybe you’d rather focus on fields with high-paying entry-level positions.
To get a sense of what fits your criteria, complete Springboard’s career assessment test. It takes just 15 to 20 minutes. Once you’ve finished, you’ll receive a personalized email with ideas for your career shift.
4 Steps to Successfully Changing Your Career Path
A list of possible careers is an exciting starting point, but it’s a long way from “you’re hired.” Don’t worry—these steps will help get you the rest of the way.
Step 1: Research what’s available
Shortlist possible new positions in fields you’re interested in. Then, check out sites like Indeed or industry-specific job boards to find out whether they’re hiring. If you’re having trouble picking a potential position, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a great place to find growth projections for almost any career you can think of.
While you’re there, research the field’s educational requirements. If you want to become a lawyer, you’re looking at three years of law school at minimum, but many tech jobs are accessible with just a bootcamp certificate.
Step 2: List your transferable skills
A career change is easier when you can apply expertise from your current line of work. Soft skills like creativity, communication, and grace under pressure are huge assets for any job seeker. Midlife professionals have had plenty of time to develop these skills.
Also, consider your hard skills—those concrete, quantifiable abilities that you developed through experience or training. These are often more transferable than people think.
Business and project management, for example, are common hard skills that transfer beautifully to tech. Take Springboard alum Sam Fisher, who developed project design and analytics skills as a sound designer. He now uses those same skills as a data scientist with a financial technology startup, where he refines modeling for lenders.
Step 3: Build core skills in your new field
If you’re moving to a field similar to your old one, you may only need to take a few online courses to get on track. For example, a graphic designer moving into UI/UX design already has most of the core skills required. What they need is a focused understanding of UI/UX and the technology trends that drive success.
If you’re making a major life career change, however, you may need to develop an entirely new skill set. A mid-life business analyst could have great career success as a data engineer, but they’ll have to dig into many different highly technical skills first.
If that’s the case, consider a bootcamp program. Bootcamps like those from Springboard can prepare you to apply for a new position in less than a year.
Step 4: Polish your resume and apply
To secure a job in your new industry, you’ll need a resume and cover letter that highlight two things:
- Your recent training and hands-on experience, such as an internship or bootcamp project
- Explicitly transferable skills and experience from your previous job
Don’t make the employer figure out how your background will benefit the company. Make a case using examples and language geared toward your new industry. For example, if you’re going into data engineering from healthcare management, highlight your database project that reduced processing errors and minimized downtime—not your successful recruiting initiative.
Look for resume templates and formats that are aligned with your target industry, and structure yours similarly.
Finally, remember to update your LinkedIn profile. Employers might search for you there, and you want it to reflect your new career ambitions.
Are you ready to take control of your future?
Browse Springboard’s many Career Tracks to find the right fit for you. Unsure of where your skillset is leading you? Take the Career Assessment Test to find the right career path for your experience, interests, and skills.