If you’re considering a career change at 40, let us be the first to congratulate you. It’s never too late to start creating the life you’ve always wanted.
Such encouragement is necessary because we suspect you don’t hear it often. Changing careers at 40 is not “what most people do.” In our society, it's okay to be 30 with no career. But 40? That's not normal, which means there are likely many voices in your life telling you to just stay the course.
Don’t listen to them. Only you know what’s best for you, and if that means starting a new career at 40, well, so be it. Since when has being different been a bad thing?
Starting a new career at 40 is not only possible, but it could very well be the best thing you ever do.
Here’s why, as well as some tips to help you get things moving in the right direction:
Why Make a Career Change at 40?
Probably the most common question people will ask you (and you will ask yourself) when you’re considering starting a new career at 40 is “why?”
Chances are you’ve been in your current field, or some version of it, for the past twenty years. It’s natural to wonder if tossing that experience to the side is worth it. But you’re not tossing it to the side. You’re simply applying it to something else.
This is important to remember. You’re changing careers, but you’re still you. The skills and experiences you have can still apply. You just need to find a way to put them to use in a different way.
However, it’s still important to be clear about why you want to change careers. In general, there are two primary motivators:
- Money — Perhaps you feel you’ve advanced as far as you can in your current field and that the only way to earn more money is to switch careers.
- Happiness — After 20 years in one field, you’ve finally decided that what you do doesn’t make you happy, and you don’t feel like spending another 20-30 years doing it. Who could blame you?
In most cases, both of these things can motivate mid-life career changes. But we should warn against making this change purely because of money. Additional income can boost overall well-being, but only up until a certain point. Beyond that, we need other things to live well.
While going through this change, there will be challenges. It’s important to know you’re working for something larger than just a slightly bigger paycheck.
The Benefits of Starting a New Career at 40
There are a lot of good reasons why changing careers at 40 is a good idea. Some of the most significant include:
- Better health and wellness — If you’re stuck in a job you don’t like, or that is taking you nowhere, there’s a good chance it’s having an impact on the rest of your health and well-being. Making this change can truly transform your life.
- New experiences — New experiences are the spice of life. And what could be more exciting than switching jobs halfway through your career?
- Increased earning potential — While you may have to accept lower pay in the beginning, you can often earn more by switching careers since it opens up opportunities that were previously unavailable.
- Improved confidence — Switching careers at 40 takes some guts. But once you get through the process, you will see how resilient you are. This is very empowering and will encourage you to take a growth mindset going forward.
If these things sound appealing to you, then you’re likely the perfect candidate for a career change. However, there are a few things you should know before you take the leap.
The Risks of Changing Careers at 40
In general, the biggest thing that keeps people from taking this leap is fear.
At 40, our lives are mired in “responsibility,” and we fear any change that might interfere with our ability to fulfill these responsibilities.
What if I can’t pay the mortgage this month?
What if I can’t afford groceries?
How will I support my family?
These are all valid concerns, but they shouldn’t prevent you from making the change you want to make.
To help you overcome these fears, and the other challenges that come from changing careers at 40, keep the following things in mind:
Get Ready to Take a Step “Back”
It’s taken you around 20 years to get to where you are today. But to start anew, you may need to accept a position that you consider “below” you. This means one that pays less or that comes with less responsibility.
Of course, don’t take jobs designed for college grads. Yet it’s unrealistic to expect you can make a perfectly lateral or upwards move as you change careers.
Prepare to Work Overtime
Let’s be honest. Changing careers at 40 is not the same thing as starting a new career at 30.
At 40, it’s likely you have lots of other responsibilities in life, such as a family. Therefore, quitting your job and starting fresh isn’t always possible, at least not in the way it was when you were younger.
In response, get ready to multitask. You may need to work your day job and train or go to school at night. Have a plan for how you will manage all this extra work and stay balanced through your transition.
Plan for the Self-Doubt
Along this journey there will be many moments in which you completely doubt what you’re doing. The stress and the hard work can get overwhelming, and this makes it easy to want to give up.
Plan for this by putting up reminders as to why you’re making this change. These could include notifications that pop up on your phone, vision boards, written reminders, or whatever else helps you remember that the struggle is worth it.
It’s Not Always So Bad: Why A Digital Marketing Career Could Be For You
As you can see, there are some challenges involved with switching careers at 40. But it’s not always a major struggle.
For example, if you switch from your current field to digital marketing, you can start working a lot sooner than you think. There are no special degrees required, and the skills involved are easy to learn.
Plus, with the world rapidly moving online, there are lots of opportunities, and there will be for years to come.
Digital marketing is a growing field that is both challenging and rewarding. Thinking about giving it a try? Start with our free training program, designed by Seth Hymes, the founder of In Demand Career, to see if it’s for you.
Once you’ve got your foot in the door, it won’t be long before you’ll be landing jobs left and right in this exciting field.
How to Make a Career Change at 40
Starting a new career at 40 is not only possible but it’s often a very good idea. So, it’s time to get to work!
The exact path you follow to your new career is going to be uniquely yours, but here’s a blueprint for how to launch your new life:
Step 1: Identify Your Passions
You’re not changing careers at 40 just for fun. Instead, you’re looking to find a job that’s more aligned with your passions and interests. So, a good place to start this process is by identifying what these are so that you can pursue the right opportunities. For many people, this will mean finding jobs that allow them to be creative. But this isn’t always the case; there’s something out there for everyone.
In this process, it’s important to keep your feet on the ground. Dream big, sure. But don’t set yourself up for total failure.
For example, perhaps music is a passion of yours. Making it as a rockstar might no longer be possible, but that’s not your only option. You could get into talent management or sound engineering and still have a very rewarding career in music.
Always aim for the moon. But never forget that there are often multiple paths to your ideal reality.
Step 2: Identify Your Skills
To change careers at 40, you need to put all your emphasis on your skills. In other words, what have you learned how to do that could be useful in any setting?
Maybe you have management experience, understand marketing, are a good writer, or have excellent sales skills. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it’s something that can be transferred to another position.
Step 3: Find Skill Gaps and Start Learning
Once you’ve figured out what you’d like to do and what you can do, the next step is to determine the gaps in your skillset. In other words, what do you not know that you need to in order to land your new job?
After you’ve identified these gaps, you can put together a plan for how you will acquire these skills. Perhaps all you need are a few library books and some YouTube videos. Or you might need to go back to school and earn another degree.
One of the great things about switching to a career in digital marketing is that it’s a relatively easy field to enter. You don’t need any special qualifications (in fact, there is no such thing as “digital marketing degree) and you can learn these skills quickly and easily in your own time.
Step 4: Search for Your Dream Job
As you build your skillset, keep an eye out for opportunities and apply to them as they appear. You may be able to find something that allows you to switch faster than you were expecting. Or, if nothing else, going on some interviews can help you better understand what’s expected in the field you’re pursuing.
Start Your New Career Today
Making a career change at 40 might seem daunting. But it doesn’t need to be this way. In fact, 40 is often the perfect time to make this transition.
For those of you looking to move into the world of digital marketing, check out our training modules that can get you working towards your new career today.
But remember, the sky’s the limit. Don’t hold yourself back, and don’t ever believe something’s not possible, even if that means changing careers at 40.