What You Need to Know About Making a Career Change at 40

Changing careers when you’re older than forty is a big decision; these 10 tips summarize what you need to know about making a career change at 40. Robert Herjavec and Richard Bolles are bestselling authors and successful businessmen who share career advice, cautions and strategies for switching jobs.

“Start by being honest with yourself,” writes businessman, bestselling author, and Shark Tank investor/star Robert Herjavec in You Don’t Have to Be a Shark: Creating Your Own Success. “Know what it takes to make you happy, and admit your limitations as well as your goals and skills. Having a vision and seeking to fulfill it are wonderful, but fooling yourself about your chances of success is risky. It’s fine to want a job at a large legal firm, for example, but unless you have a law degree from a fancy school, your chances are probably zero. So what can you do?” Below, Herjavec shares exactly what you can do and what you need to know about changing your career at 40…

When you’re changing your career after forty or any age, you must believe that you WILL land on your feet. Work towards what you want to achieve in your career, and do not let fear or uncertainty distract you. Hold on to the hope and faith that you will progress towards your career goals every day. You have options and choices, and you can move in any direction you want. You must believe your new career will suit you perfectly, you won’t have any regrets, and you are moving in the right direction. Trust and believe in yourself.

Your confidence and belief in yourself is the most important part of making a successful career change at 40 or any age. Yes, this is a major life decision and yes, you may feel afraid! But don’t let fear dictate how you live your life.

If you need to make money during the transition from one career to another, read 10 Highest Paying Jobs for College Students. I know you’re not “college age” – though you may be going back to school. Those college jobs are low stress and high pay, which is exactly what you need when you’re changing careers. Keep your options open, and be prepared to take unexpected jobs changing your career. Sometimes a “pit stop” is necessary when you’re making a major pivot in life.

Richard Bolles is the author of the bestselling What Color is Your Parachute? book series. He encourages people over 40 to start moving in the direction of their new careers by starting up a blog or website devoted to the new job or career path. If you’ve never blogged, read How to Blog About Something You Love.

For instance, if you’re currently an employment counsellor at a community college and you want to be an organizational psychologist, start blogging about making career changes for people in their 40s and 50s. This may help your graduate school applications, give you additional information about the the psychology of the workplace, and add to your credibility.

10 Smart Tips for Making a Career Change at 40

When I was 42 I went back to school, to get my MSW (Master of Social Work) – so I understand what you need to know about how to make a career change.

Are you considering going back to college or university? Feel free to ask me questions in the comments section below about returning to school as a mature student. Even better, read Should You Go to Grad School for a Master of Social Work (MSW)?

1. Focus on one change at a time

If you’re changing your career, try to avoid other major life changes as well. Keep your home life, social life, relationships, and health as steady as possible right now. Make your career change your number one priority right now, and let everything else take second shift.

“You need a place to stand, when you move your life around, and that place is provided by the things that stay constant about you: your character, your relationships, your faith, your values, your transferable skills,” writes Bollees.

If your ambition is to work at a big law firm or Google and you have no experience, Robert Herjavec recommends pivoting towards a job with a similar function and status, perhaps working as an intern in a government department or public service organization, where you can build a reputation as someone who can handle challenging assignments.

2. Start with what you want to do, not what the job market says

Avoid taking the media or industry’s advice on the “hottest new careers” or “best places to find a job.” Instead, figure out what you want to work at every day. This will help you find long-term job satisfaction and help you decide on a meaningful career change at 40. Boles guarantees that unless you look dirty, wild, and disreputable – and you smell really bad – an employer is looking for you. If, that is, you know what your talents and skills are.

“You’ll have to accept fear and find courage,” writes Herjavec in You Don’t Have to Be a Shark. “You will also to ignore the ‘I wish I had…’ syndrome that keeps reminding you of the chances you’ve lost and the time you’ve wasted. Making a career change often involves rejecting much of your working life to this point. Don’t waste time regretting the fact that you didn’t make the move earlier, and refuse to beat yourself up about it. Along the way you gained knowledge and experience. Now is the time to use them.

3. Free yourself from old patterns

career change 40

Making a Career Change at 40? 10 Things You Need to Know

Often, we fall back into the patterns we’ve been living all our lives.

Look around for any type of career that interests you. Instead of plodding along in the same career direction, talk to people who are working in fields or jobs that intrigue you. Why stay in the same job market when you’re changing careers at 40 – why not push the edges a little?

“I’m sure that a huge proportion of the situation you are facing is out out of your control,” says Bolles. “There’s nothing you can do about it. But that proportion can’t be 100 percent. There’s got to be some proportion – let’s say it’s even just 2 percent – that is within your control. You can work on that. Who knows what a difference that may make?”

What old patterns are holding you back? Don’t underestimate the power you have, even if you feel lost and even helpless when you’re learning how to make a career change at 40. It will get easier, and you WILL get through this!

4. Take your time when deciding on a new careeer path

This is an important caution about a career change at 40, because it may be the last time you take this big of a risk in your professional life. The more time and thought you can give to choosing your career, the better your choice will be.

“Changing careers brings a whole new raft of options that are worth exploring,” writes Herjavec in You Don’t Have to Be a Shark. “Exploring your options is worthwhile because making a major career change is naturally uncomfortable at the beginning. You can raise your comfort level by being aware of all the new choices you have and selecting the most promising among them.”

Don’t make the mistake of dwelling too long on this process. If you spend too much time weighing and analyzing your options, you may find yourself caught in the “paralysis by analysis” trap. “This happens when you focus too long on things that can go wrong,” writes Herjavec. “At some point you have to admit you can’t anticipate all the bad things that might occur, and start taking action anyway. There is never any certainty of success in business or in life except this one: if you don’t make an effort to realize your ambition, you will join all the others through history who, at the end of their lives, were forced to admit ‘I never even tried.’

If you’re discouraged and unsure where to start, read How to Find Your Dream Job – No Matter How Old You Are.

5. Expect to make mistakes

If you open yourself up to the expectation that you will take a wrong turn on your career path here and there, you’ll be more likely to take healthy risks. You have time to correct and recover from a bad decision – and the only way to know it’s a bad career choice is if you try it. Take a risk, and learn to be okay with making mistakes. This is a good life tip, not just a caution about changing careers when you’re forty!

Here’s a practical tip on how to make a career change that will help you identify mistakes you may not even be aware you made:

“A vast majority of employers now Google your name before they’ll consider hiring you,” writes Bolles in the 2014 edition of What Color is Your Parachute? “There’s your new resume…What we know for sure is that somewhere between 35% and 70% of employers now report that they have rejected applicants on the basis of what they found through Google. Things that can get you rejected from a job interview are:

  • Bad grammar or gross misspelling on your Facebook or LinkedIn profile
  • Anything indicating you lied on your resume or job application
  • Badmouthing of previous employers
  • Any signs of racism, prejudice, or screwy opinions about stuff
  • Anything indicating alcohol or drug abuse; and any – to put it delicately – inappropriate content

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your online presence, especially if you’re active on various social media sites.

6. Learn to enjoy the process of changing your career

Sure, making a career change at 40 can be scary…but it’s also a very exciting time in your life. This is your chance to create a new life, start fresh, and use your brain and body in a whole new way. Bolles says if you’re not having fun changing your career, you’re not doing it right.

Not only will lightening up and having fun will help reduce stress when you’re changing career at 40, it will help convince potential employers that you are easy to work with. Light to carry. Flexible. Adaptable to a new team and work environment.

7. Remember there are no guarantees

“Don’t get a college degree in some career field just because you think it will guarantee you a job! It will not,” writes Bolles. This ties into the second tip about career change at 40, which is to use your interests and passions as the foundation of your decision. Don’t rely on the industry, job market, or even college recruitment posters to help you decide what career to choose.

Herjavec adds that you need to prepare yourself to accept the messy parts of changing your career at 40 or any age. “Stuff happens,” he says wisely. “Sometimes it’s messy stuff that you didn’t expect and don’t need. When this occurs, just clean up the mess and keep going. Good stuff can happen as well. That’s what you should be prepared for – the unexpected windfall or golden opportunity that can accelerate your career and speed your way to success.”

8. Learn healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety

I think these tips for a career change at 40 can be applied to a career change at any age – or even when you’re 16 and trying to decide what you want to do with your life.

What You Need to Know About Making a Career Change at 40

What You Need to Know About Making a Career Change at 40

In some ways, making a career change when you’re over 40 isn’t any different than switching jobs when you’re 20 or 30. Except, you may feel the pressure of age – and old age. You may be a bit more stressed at 40 because you have mortgage payments, student loan debt, kids’ expenses, car payments, etc.

It feels scary to take a job risk or make a career transition at age forty, but it may be the best thing you could do at this point in your life.

Here’s my favorite quote from What Colour is Your Parachute:

“One of the saddest lines in the world is, ‘Oh come now – be realistic.’ The best parts of this world were not fashioned by those who were realistic. They were fashioned by those who dared to look hard at their wishes and gave them horses to ride.”

If you’re wondering how to change careers when you’re 40, dare to face your dreams head-on.

Don’t forget to consider your personality traits! If you’re an introvert, read Best Jobs for Introverts and People Who Like to Work Alone.

The last two tips for making a career change at 40

I found a great career website that helps people change their careers at all ages. Here are their recommendations for changing careers at 40 or older…

9. Have a niche

You are definitely going to have a lot of choices when you change your career, but choice is really not helpful in the sense that you’ve got to get clear and very specific about what you want to do. When you go to market you want to be “one of one.”

In other words, be specific in identifying a niche for your career. This way you’ll have less competition from other, more general job candidates.

10. Get help specifically geared to making a career change at 40

Think about what help you’re going to need when you’re making a career change at 40, and where that help is going to come from. Some of it will be close to you – obvious and free. Some of the help you need might not be so obvious and you might need to buy into it. For instance, you may need to become a member of a career development club to make use of its tools, support and community.

Or, maybe you need to hire a job coach or employment counselor to help you navigate the stress and fear that comes with changing a career when you’re 40 plus.

These last two tips on changing your career are from 10 Ways to Get Focused on Your Career Change, on the Position Ignition website.

Resources for Making a Career Change at 40

how-to-change-your-career-at-40In What Color Is Your Parachute? 2017: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, Richard Bolles says, “Hope depends upon taking care that we have at least two alternatives in every situation, with every task confronting us.” This Parachute edition features the latest studies and perspectives on today’s job-market, including proven strategies for finding jobs even when everyone tells you there are none.

Bolles also encourages us to stop living for weekends. When you’re passionate about your job, you won’t drag yourself to work every day. “There is a vast world of work out there in this country, where at least 111 million people are employed in this country alone – many of whom are bored out of their minds. All day long. Not for nothing is their motto TGIF – ‘Thank God It’s Friday.’ They live for the weekends, when they can go do what they really want to do.”

career change at forty plus“Plan on being a lifelong learner,” writes Robert Herjavec in You Don’t Have to Be a Shark: Creating Your Own Success. “Learn how to bounce back. Among all the things that will happen when starting out as an entrepreneur or a professional salesperson, here’s one you can count on: you will make mistakes. No one avoids them entirely in business, in sports, or in life generally. Mistakes injure your pride and sometimes your pocketbook. That’s the bad news. The good news is that mistakes are an opportunity to learn from experience, understand why they happened, and ensure they do not happen again.”

When you’re changing careers at 40 plus, the path to success isn’t short and straight. Rather, it’s full of switchbacks, turns, and detours. In You Don’t Have to Be a Shark, Herjavec includes “10 Things You Need to Do When Making a Career Change in Your Life.” I highly recommend his book because it focuses on how to sell yourself. And make no mistake: no matter what job or career you choose, you have to sell yourself!

Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type is by Paul D. Tieger (et al) is especially useful for millennials and baby boomers experiencing midlife career switches. That’s you, if you’re searching for tips on how to make a career change at 40! This book leads readers step-by-step through the process of determining and verifying which Personality Type they are. Then it identifies occupations that are popular with each Type, provides helpful case studies, and offers a rundown of each Type’s work-related strengths and weaknesses.

And remember: When you see someone successful, you only see the public glories – not the private sacrifices it took to succeed. Be prepared to make sacrifices if you’re making a career change at 40…or any age. It’ll be worth it.

Your thoughts are welcome below! What’s your biggest reason not to change your career? What’s holding you back, and how are you coping with the stress of making a career change at 40?


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58 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About Making a Career Change at 40”

  1. I am greatly struggling with this. I spent the majority of my life from job to job never really focusing on a career. Here I am about to turn 41 in September and by the grace of God I find myself in a STEM environment. I’ve been with a mechanical and electrical company for 5 years now. I started there just taking machines apart and separating the various metals (steel, brass, copper). Now I’m building electrical machines and panels, reading schematics and doing things I never thought I’d be doing. Even though I have been making an effort to learn so I can be better at my job. The idea of making this more than a job has been really creeping up in mind. Now trying to really decide on a path is kind of stressing me out because truthfully I don’t know how many more do-overs I got left in life. I know I need to go back to school but whatever u choose it will most likely be part time. Which means if it’s a two year path it will take 4 years to complete and if it’s 4 years it will take almost 8 or more. I’ll be knocking on 50 at that point and then I’m really at risk. I’m trying to get over those fears and make a decision, but it’s hard when you got these sorts of things in front of you. I really do feel like I’ve been given a chance to make something of my life where I didn’t do so hot before. Electrical engineering had really intrigued me but I think that may be unrealistic. It’s very easy to talk yourself out of something. I know I need to decide and soon. Thanks for the article. It’s been insightful.

  2. I’m not enjoying my work environment anymore because of my coworkers. My gut is telling me nothing will change unless I relent on certain issues, but I’m tired of dealing with toxic coworkers in this job. I want to change careers entirely, and get a counseling degree in Psychology. But I’m 41 and currently work in a steady business at a company I’ve been with for almost 15 years. I just feel called to help others with additions, substance abuse, and other problems. My intuition (and the toxic coworkers) is telling me it’s time to switch careers, but I’m nervous. I really want to make this change, though. Should I trust my gut and make a career change now? I won’t be working in a counseling job until I’m at least 45.

  3. I have to make a career change at 46, because of health issues. I have been behind the wheel on several different jobs my whole career. Now vertigo has parked my commercial driving career. I have no college background and wasn’t a good student in the first place. Now I am at a very dangerous cross road. One that I know has sent people to live in the streets from lack of viable employment. For the first time in my life, I really don’t know what I’m going to do.

  4. Mike,
    I returned to school at 41 and I am now finishing my Masters in Public Administration. I now have to find a job. I am very uneasy about applying for new jobs because of my lack of experience in my new field. I have spent 25 years in my current career. I guess it is time to just do it.

  5. Find the balance between taking an exciting leap of faith and using your common sense! A risk means you have no guarantees — and that’s what makes life exciting :-). If you don’t risk anything, then you live in dull routine…and that’s a bigger risk because you’ll reach the end of your life with regrets and unfulfilled dreams.

    You probably won’t regret sticking your neck out if you are thoughtful and careful about what you choose to do. My favorite advice about life – and making a career change at 40 – is to take the next logical commonsense step.

    Start looking at different college or adult education diploma or degree programs. Talk to different people in your industry, find out what the job opportunities and openings are. Go to conferences and professional workshops, see what’s out there.

    The beauty of making a career change at 40 is that you’re mature and old enough to have experience, but young enough for a company to take a risk on! It’s a great place to be.

    What would you do with the rest of your life, if time and money and fear were no object?

  6. I’m 43 and I’m feeling stuck in my current office job. Many employees had their hours cut due to the company’s financial problems, so moral has been low. Many of us had our hours put back to full time recently, but the ups and downs over the years have been very scary especially thinking about my future there. Employee turnover and management politics also has me wanting to explore a career change. I am considering either finding a better job or doing a complete career change which may involve more schooling. I’m not sure exactly what to change to, but does anyone have any advice on changing careers at this age?

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed my career in non-profit. Now at 41, I’m recently married and working through an MS in Engineering for a transition to industry. The arduous process and self discovery requires commitment, but the 40s are a perfect age for these changes. There may even be real value to developing a broad professional profile. Let’s face it, the 50s are now considered midlife for today’s 40-something. I fully expect work/life to stretch well into my 80s and possibly 90s!

    1. Marisa Schweikert

      Um ok have you gone job hunting for engineering positions yet? Perfect age? Ok you tell employers that because they don’t seem to think so.

  8. I am a 46 year old male. I had an extreme automobile accident when I was 18, when I had always planned to attend college and develop a great career through my school years, but, after the very required long recovery from the accident, my memory was zapped. I did have 2 brain surgeries, and I know that the brain injury is my reason for losing my short term memory.
    My main question is this, am I simply stuck in the category I am in, without much of a short term memory, and never being able to develop a better career? Thank You!

  9. Dear Jeanine,

    It sounds like you want to make a career change – and you know that it’s not too late because even though you’re 42, you feel as fit and healthy as you did when you were in your 30s! That’s the good news 🙂

    So, what is holding you back? Write a list of 10 or 20 reasons you are hesitating to go back to school to get a Master’s of Counseling. Don’t think, just write. What are you concerned about? What are you scared of?

    Let me know what you come up with!

  10. I’m a woman in my late 40s who has worked since I was in my early 20s social worker mostly in nursing homes and did five years and community care with the visiting nurses. I’ve struggled my career since I began but never had the courage to change because I thought that there was nothing else I could do and it was my fault that I kept losing my job I recently lost my job I have decided to no longer do social work. The workload is tremendous and there was a lack of appreciation and the field. I also suffer from a hearing impairment which is gotten worse .

    Now that I’m not working I’m trying to think of what else I want to do with the rest of my life anything but social work and something that will make me happy I think I would like to do something with animals but I don’t have the finances or time to return to college. I specially like the equine feel however lifting and mucking stalls has gotten the best of me and not something I can do every day for 8 to 10 hours. I am married and have no children I have two dogs I’ve been riding horses for about four years and have developed a love for the equine field. I know that whatever I do I want something that involves animals. I rather work independently and not be micromanaged.

  11. 25 years of construction,my shoulders and knees are done in i have no qualifications and unable to go back to building even if i wanted to,i worked it out that i will take me 5 plus years to get into teaching which holds zero interest to me so what do you recommend,my cash is running out and the anger is becoming to much to control,cheers.

    1. Dan,

      Hang in there man. I’m in a boat not much different from you, so take encouragement that you’re not alone. Sometimes I feel like I am all alone in the immense career change uncertainty, and running out of money and all that, so reading your note actually was oddly encouraging that I’m not the only one. I’m moved to share a few ideas. I pray one of these might help you get unstuck. Maybe you know all this, but these are things I’m thinking about right now, so I thought I would share the wealth.

      1. If you attend a local church (or even if you don’t) you might ask someone there (staff, pastor, friend) if anyone in the congregation there has a reputation as a wise career or life counselor. Although career counselors don’t usually work for free, you might find someone there who would be willing to do so or do it on the cheap, given your situation. People love to help others, I have found.

      2. Another option is to find associations of other guys. For example, do you have any kids in Boy Scouts or Trail Life USA? Or if not, would you be open to attending a men’s small group or Bible study at a local church. Once you have been to such a group a few times, I’ve found guys tend to open up about life as they get to know each other. Some of them might have connections or know of opportunities or at least be able to encourage you.

      3. Related to #2, find a group on social media. Look for a group devoted to discussing career change group. The larger the group size, the better, as you’ll get more input.

      4. Here’s another men’s group idea I’ve considered. I like cigars (when I could afford them). I have a buddy who is in a Christian men’s cigar group that has local chapters that meet all over the country. There are probably several of such groups and you could look on Facebook or Google. One I know of is the New Canaan Society (they don’t JUST do cigars, but have other events, but I know cigars is one of them). I went to one such group one time (not this one), and it was full of people from all walks of life hanging out. Many of these people are regular attenders at the local group. I got the sense that because of this, someone who attended regularly might wind up exposed to a lot of good potential business relationships.

      5. Think about connections you already have. Connections help more than just going out there cold with your resume. Have any old work friends or supervisors who have moved on to another career?

      6. Does sales have any interest for you? I know that financial advisors are almost always hiring (New York Life, AXA Advisors, etc.). It’s a high turnover business. But you probably know a lot of names if you’ve been in construction for 25 years. That is a potentially big customer base. If you get into a company with good training (I have heard the above two are great at training), they will teach you what you need to know to succeed, though you need to spend maybe 3 months on getting licensed soon after you’re hired. If you do well, though, you can make a lot of money while helping people manage their finances better. I have a friend who changed careers in his mid-40’s. Blue collar guy. Had debt close to a million dollars due to medical bills–had bad cancer. He has paid it off. Told me his average year after being in it 10 years is 240k. Best year was 350k.

    2. Dan,

      Also, it occurred to me. You are a construction expert after 25 years, I guarantee. You have seen things many have not and have a level of expertise in a single area most people can only dream about (I’m jealous to be honest), even if it was all hands-on manual labor. Did you spot any deficiencies or inefficient things or frustrations or ineptness on the job site that went perpetually unsolved or unaddressed? What if solving that became your niche? Your business? You position yourself as Dan, the expert in solving specific problem X that people are too busy or whatever to solve.

  12. Hi, I typed in How to find another Job on Google and i clicked on your link. I am very happy I did.Your ideas are so informative and thought provoking. I am 2 years into a Mortgage at 40 years old with 2 children 14 and 2yrs. I really cannot be flighty in any decision I make, but daily I am yearning for a change of pace. I work shifts and my body is rebelling. My time for family, friends is non existent. That makes me sad. Life to me should not be all about work. After all, one day we will no longer be here, so we should be happy and stress free. I work in Hospitality and I have 15 years background in Aviation/Customer Service/Travel Agent. I would really like to do something more people focused, especially for the underprivileged. I have no clue however what!! I do intend to follow your steps and not let paralysis take over. 🙂

    Pray for me!

  13. little over 40 and all i did mostly was drive or be in the transportation business. Went to College years ago an have a 2 year degree. i want another career but i have no clue on what i want to do. ANY IDEAS ANYONE ? screwed i know

    1. Michael Colon,

      No, you’re not screwed, but I can see how it is easy to think that, because I feel that way sometimes too. If it helps, please see my reply to Dan above for ideas.

      Sounds like you’re a bit of a transportation expert. Have you ever thought of starting your own business to solve something that aggravated you when you were out driving? Just a thought.

  14. Hi Clement,

    Congratulations on your decision to go to grad school to do your Masters in Public Health! That’s awesome. I went back for my Master of Social Work when I was… I can’t even remember now, I think I was 42. I’m so glad I did it, I don’t regret it even though I’m not working as a social worker.

    Upgrading your education or training is almost never a mistake. Of course there are no guarantees that you’ll get a job after you graduate, but there are no guarantees that you’ll even wake up tomorrow morning! Of all the things God promised us, guarantees was not one of them.

    Take a deep breath, and take it one step at a time. If people look at you like you’ve gone mad… What can I say? Maybe you have! But you’re not hurting anyone and you’re excited about your life, aren’t you?

    So bring on the madness, is all I have to say.

    In peace and passion,


    1. Hi Laurie,

      I am 42 and want to go back to school for my Masters in Counseling. For some crazy reason I can’t seem to work past I feel like I am just to old to start now. Which is silly since I feel like I am in my 30’s fit and healthy. Any words of advice?

  15. HI,
    After reading this article, it gives me a big relief as i was so confused if it will alright for me to go to grad school to do my masters in public health which is totally going to be new for me. I am 44 and planning to study part time which will take 3 years for me to complete the masters. The only thing that worrying me is will I get a job when I am fresh grad in the age of 47. I don’t want people especially my own family look me as if I have gone mad. But honestly this article has motivated me and I think my decision is not wrong.

  16. Dear Lynn,

    Thank you for your lovely comments here and on my other article – we sound like two peas in a pod! I’m definitely an introvert, and I have a bachelors degree in psychology, which doesn’t offer a lot of job opportunities. So I went back to school for a bachelors of education and worked as a teacher for three years. That’s how I discovered I’m not cut out to be a teacher 🙂

    Question for you: would you consider going back to school? I went back to university and got my Master of Social Work when I was 41, and even though I’m not working as a social worker now it really was one of the best life decisions I ever made. But writing and blogging is my passion and life purpose.

    I’ll definitely keep you in my prayers. May you find hope, wisdom, guidance, and even joy as you explore the possibilities for your future. If you do decide to take up blogging – and I’ll respond to your other comment about blogging on the other article – you have an exciting road ahead of you!

    And here’s another article I wrote that relates to learning how to make a career change at 40:

    Best Jobs for Introverts and People Who Like to Be Alone

    Be well, talk soon, xo

    1. I’m an introvert. I’m slowly going back to school for my A.A. in Psychology. I know but I find it interesting at the moment. I’m 45 ands caregiver to my daughter who is disabled. She is my love and career at the moment. I have always wanted to act but I think that is unrealistic. I am preparing in case I lose my job, but I don’t want to worry about it as I tend to do. I enjoy your blog!

  17. Hi Nick,

    Congratulations on finding something that you know that you love to do! Sometimes that’s half the battle when you’re making a career change at 40 or older.

    Like you said, learning something new when you’re on the road as a trucker is difficult. My husband and I drove to Alberta last month; it was a 12 hour road trip and I always marvel when I see those long distance trackers who spent all day on the road.

    I don’t know anything about AutoCAD education or word working courses, but I did a brief Internet search on online AutoCAD courses. Several hits came up that looked promising, but I didn’t actually follow them. I encourage you to research online education or distance-learning in that field. Most training and education these days do you have an online or distance component, which makes it easier for people who can’t attend classes in person.

    I think it’s awesome that you’re setting goals for the next year or two, and one for five years. Seems like a long time away, but when you’re 50 you’ll be so glad that you pursued your AutoCAD education. My husband just turned 50 a couple weeks ago and believe me it comes quicker than you think!

    I wish I could be more helpful, but as I said I don’t know much about that area. Let me know what you come up with – I’ll definitely be rooting for you!



  18. Your blog is a blessing to read. I am suddenly unemployed at 44 and forced to do something. I have a Bachelors and some graduate work in the arts, which of course is never going to pay the bills, so I’ve been working in a low-paying industry that does not require my degree (underemployed) and am sick of the unemployment merry-go-round. I’m also an extreme introvert (13 out of 100 on the Psychology Today test) for whom even the word “networking” makes me get severe butterflies. Pls pray for me to find hope and direction.

  19. Hi there, I’m a 44 year old man that has been a truck driver for about 15 years now. I got into it by working in a distrabution warehouse and then worked up to getting my cdl and then worked my way to over the road work then back down to local driving.
    I have a passion for woodworking and really want to be able to design my projects on autocadd and build them. I however need an education on autocadd. I took a class in it before I started driving OTR but wasn’t financially stable enough to continue schooling. Now I have a family, mortgage, other bills to pay. Is there something I can do to continue my education in autocadd? I understand I can’t rush it and I will probably need to drive for some time yet to make ends meet. On the same note am more then willing to try to get to the library and work on learning as much as I can in the time I have. I’d like to set some goals for the next year or two and one for 5 years. My new years resolution for 2017 is just to get a couple steps closer to the new career. I also understand that just doing my own projects and selling those probably won’t pay all the bills ether so I was thinking of working in a factory drawing up blueprints for their products. Is this a good route to take?
    Thank you for taking the time to read this and answer my questions. It’s much appreciated.

    1. Nick,

      Check out online learning sites like Udemy and Khan Academy and Lynda.com. I don’t know what they have for autoCAD, but they have tons of courses. Khan is all free, but is more geared toward general education stuff. Udemy is often like $10-20 a course. Lynda.com is my favorite–and it DOES have autoCAD classes. And tons of other business classes–like Excel basics, marketing basics, business basics. Lynda is like $30/month subscription, all you can watch, cancel anytime. But I think they give you a free month trial. I bought a month and am using it to get some basic skills down that I never learned in other jobs. Awesome resource. Excited to hear of your career change. Hang in there!

  20. Hi again Chandra,

    Okay, here’s the article you inspired me to write – thank you!

    How to Decide if You Should Go to School to Become a Writer

    And here is a question for you: If you don’t go back to school, will you always regret it?

    I went back to university for my MSW (Master of Social Work) because I thought I was done writing. It sorta got dull because I’d be doing it for a few years, and I needed a break. I thought I wanted to be a social worker instead.

    Now, three years after getting my MSW, I still haven’t found time to look for a job as a social worker because I’m too busy writing! My love for blogging has been renewed, revived. So even though I “wasted” those two years getting a MSW…I am so glad I did it. I totally would’ve regretted it if I didn’t take the leap when I did.

    There are no guarantees that an English Lit degree will get you a writing job…but boy, those might just be the happiest, most fulfilling years of your life. And if they’re the worst years of your life, then at least you know that it’s not your thang.

    Go to school! Get thee to a university! Go study. Where will you apply? What do you want to major in? I’m so excited for you! In fact I think I’ll join you…. 🙂

    In peace and passion,

  21. Listen before you dive into the whole writing thing dont quit your day job even though you want to can you live on virtually NO INCOME? Because 2 people were saying they worked at jobs making a moderate income and writing on the side. They had these crapo jobs because they were making LITTLE or No INCOME WRITING. So if you were not making any money writing before when you had a job what makes you think you will make money writing when you DONT have a job? Only difference is alot less money. More stress and more free time which doesnt mean your going to spend those extra 40 hours a week writing the great American novel. What if you get writers block.

  22. Chandra, hello! And congratulations on writing your first book – that’s awesome and amazing. Good for you – I’d love to hear more about it. What’s it called, why did you write it, and how will you promote it? Do you have a blog?

    About your questions….give me a couple of hours, and I’ll write a blog post to fully share my answers. I have so much to say! 🙂 And in the meantime, take a look at my Blossoms Writing Blog – you might be interested in these articles especially:

    How to Start Freelance Writing at 40 – and Make Money

    8 Things You Need to Know About Succeeding as a Freelance Writer

    I’ll write a new article about pursing a degree in English Literature (or a similar degree) shortly, and post the link here.

    Thanks Chandra, I love your question 🙂


  23. Thank you for your great point about making a career change after 40, Ayla7723! I hadn’t thought about age as a factor for jobs such as police, firefighting, construction work, etc…I wonder if the same restriction applies to all police or fire departments?

    I imagine some people would object on the grounds of “ageism.” But it’s not necessarily discriminating against people over 35 or 40 years old. It’s just that people older than that may not be physically capable of doing the work required. That does seem prejudicial, though! I’m in better shape now at 47 years old than I ever was at 37 or even 27 🙂

  24. Hello Laurie, thank you so much for taking the time to post this article! It’s refreshing to see so many people here that are interested in this. I am 42. I want to start a new career, as a Writer/Author. ( I’ve actually made a career change once in my 30’s and it worked out well, but still not what I wanted ultimately). I’ve been writing for years but have not been able to find a lucrative enough income to finance my life. So I’ve always remained moderately employed and continued to write as a hobby. I finally know that I want this to be my career full time.. I finished writing my first book and it will be published soon. But getting a book published doesn’t automatically guarantee a steady paycheck. I’ve always wanted to finish my degree. I’m wondering if pursuing a degree in English Lit. or something that will give me a guaranteed career in the field to fall back on is a good idea? Or is it unnecessary and a waste of time and money? I love education, teaching, writing, and researching so I figure it’s not off the path. What do you think? Sorry for going on and on about this. I just want to make a smart decision, and you obviously know a little bit about this! : ) Thanks Laurie!

  25. No one ever brings up the fact that many jobs like police officer, fire fighter, high paying construction jobs either have an legal age restriction ( to be considered must be under 35) or even if it is not legal it is an unsaid rule that a person is too old to start an entry level career as an union electrician or iron worker etc.

  26. Hi Mike,

    Nope, it is not too late for you! I went back to university when I was 43, and it was one of the highlights of my life. Yes, it’s scary and risky….and no, you will never regret it.

    Don’t let your fears hold you back.

    You may not even have to go to journalism school. Here’s an article I wrote on my writing blog:

    How to Start Freelance Writing at 40 – and Make Money

    Have you started a blog? That’s the best way to start exploring your passion of storytelling and writing.

    Do it.

    What are you waiting for?

    All good things,

  27. Hi. Great article. I am 38 and thinking of going back to college for journalism. I have had a lot of setbacks as a result of anxiety and depression. I have always found myself in hospitality even though my passion is storytelling and writing. Is it too late for me?

    1. Mike, it is not too late for you. I am 41 and am in a career change/hunt. I asked a 70-year old friend/mentor of mine the other day the same thing. I asked, “Is it too late for me?” He laughed and almost rolled his eyes at how ridiculous this question. The point wasn’t that guys like us are dumb for asking it, as it’s an understandable one–he had asked it of himself at one time. The point is that it’s so far from the truth that we should dismiss it and keep on putting one foot in front of the other–persistence and perseverance. I have a sense these times do a lot of good pruning in this way. Keep up the good fight!

  28. Another awesome quote from Robert Herjavec, from You Don’t Have to Be a Shark:

    “In current business circles, a change in course is known as a pivot. You are not giving up and you are certainly not abandoning your dream. You are recognizing that success doesn’t lie in quite the same spot it once did. It has moved, and the only way to reach it is to make a similar move, pivoting to go north by northwest instead of due north.

    There is no shame in changing course [careers!] when aiming for success. It can be both a source of pride and a demonstration of wisdom.”

  29. Hello Tica,

    Maybe you have too much information! I don’t know you (which is why I normally try not to give advice), but it seems to me that you’re overthinking this decision.

    I know it’s a huge step to make a career change when you’re 40 (or 46, like me 🙂 ) — but there is no right or wrong answer. You need to rely on your intuition, your gut instinct – the still small voice inside of you. A book can’t tell you if you should change your career or go back to school, and neither can I. Only you can make this decision.

    Take a deep breath, and sit peacefully. Close your eyes, and ask yourself “What do I really want to do? Where do I want to be in one year, or five years? WHO do I want to be?”

    Here’s an article that I recently wrote, to help women make decisions:

    How to Make a Difficult Decision in Your Life

    You have enough information. Now, you need to rely on that still small voice inside of you to take you in the direction you need to go.

    Read my decision-making article, and tell me what you think!


  30. I am 40. I have been admitted into a Master Degree in Human Services. It is a MS in Human Services, this is the link: http://catalog.etsu.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=20&poid=7865&returnto=1014 I am really not sure if I want to pay all the money and get into the program. I am not sure if I should look better for a Technical career. The thing is English is not my first language and somehow I feel very insecure with my writing skills. Also I am really not sure I like the field. I feel very good helping people but I feel overwhelmed when dealing with a lot of people. I have A Bachelor degree from another country, so I wasn’t able to work in hat field here, but because I have bachelors degree I qualify to apply for grad school. I have been living in this country for the last 14 years, I am a professional medical interpreter but I feel I want something a little more rewarding. I have read all the books you recommend, oddly as much I read as more confused I get. Any input?

  31. A very good article about making a career change at 40 that I enjoyed reading today, thanks and God bless you for this insightful article.

  32. I’m just 31, but I feel like I’m worth WAY more than what I’m being offered. I’ve thought alot about this over the last 3 years and Although it is scary making a big change I’m going back to school to become a doctor. Everything about the change makes sense to me, but selling that idea to others is kindof the scary part.

    I wish all of you a very fruitful experience because change can be scary, but I think staying where I’m at is much much scarier.

    1. Matt,

      I have friends who did what you’re doing and at your age about 10 years ago. They are now doctors making (I assume) good incomes. Sometimes I think what if I had done the same thing back then–no need to beat myself up about this, but I’m trying to say you’re in a good, normal, spot. The odds are very good you’ll look back on this as a very temporary, but formative, time. Hang in there.

  33. Wow, these are great tips for changing careers — thank you!

    Your story of writing for your company newsletter is a perfect example of making sure your choices are taking you in the right direction. I love it. And, you’re a “real” writer now because of it and other smart decisions you’ve made.

    I like your idea of “informational interviews” with potential employers, and even with people who have jobs you want. Before I started freelance writing, I met with a writer whose articles I’d read in Canadian Living. We went for lunch, I picked her brains about a writing career, and I still email her now when I have questions. I guess she’s my mentor.

  34. Hi,

    I changed careers successfully when I was 45. I went back to school, got my MBA (Master’s of Business Administration), and now I’m the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization. I love what I do, and I’m so glad I quit my previous job as a teacher. I liked teaching, but it wasn’t the right job for me.

    If any woman is thinking about changing careers at 40, I urge her to do it as soon as possible! Let the money and family problems sort themselves out. Life’s too short to waste in a job you hate.


    1. Chelsea… I don’t know who you are or where you are —
      just Thank YOU!!!!

      I needed to see this post because I need to get out of teaching. I am wasting my life on a job that I hate. Thank you for letting me know it can be done. I am actually thinking of a Master’s in Human Resources

  35. As someone who has personally changed careers twice in my life thus far, and who has had mentors to help that shift, as well as mentoring others through the same, I only see 2 things I’d like to add.

    The final note about not relying on the internet – I would recommend getting Linked-in connections to people in your target field, and then requesting phone or in-person “informational interviews”. Tell them it will only take 30 minutes, and offer to schedule at their convenience.

    Then you can ask questions about what education or experience you’ll need under your belt to get where you want to be, what might set you apart as a candidate, and you’d be making a valuable contact for the future. Give them a copy of your resume, and don’t ask for anything but friendly advice. If you’re in a highly competitive field – link up with someone in a distant market who won’t see you as a competitor and use email and telephone.

    The second thing is actually part of what I hint at in the first. Find the baby steps that will get you headed in the direction to meet your goals. One great way to do that is to find projects in your existing job that you can add to your “experience tool belt”.

    For example, when I was working in a very numbers-oriented IT job at the phone company, and I wanted to become a writer, I asked to be able to write an article for the next newsletter. The boss saw it as taking strange but good initiative, I saw it as getting actual work experience toward my new direction. I was honest with my boss about my dreams and goals, and he helped me find new ways to do that (e.g. writing technical manuals instead of just running reports. Yes, technical writing’s not exciting, but “check” toward more paid writing experience!)

    Try to think of “crossover” positions that might help you – positions that take advantage of your existing skill set and your target goal. This takes a LOT of research and brainstorming, but can be very rewarding.

    Last, but not least, think of every new job as a semester at “Experience University.” Think of your workload as your class load, and figure out if you need to take some pre-requisites before you change majors. Ask your boss to do something in that direction.

    It sounds silly to talk with your boss about your long-term career goals if it means “robbing” them of your valuable service, but a good boss will be interested in developing you in a direction you want to move in. It will make you happier and more motivated in the mid-term, and can payoff well for the company if you transfer internally rather than leaving.

    1. Alicia,

      Excellent advice all around. I agree completely on the “Experience University.” Nothing in life is a wasted experience–or at least, it need not be a wasted experience. Everything counts. I really like your “informational interview” idea; I might try that.

  36. Hello Pablo,

    I don’t know what the prospects are for entry-level medical science jobs are, but I am 100% sure that if you don’t make some sort of career change now while you’re in your 40s, you’ll always regret it!

    If you knew exactly what was going to happen, it wouldn’t be a risk, would it? And that’s what makes life meaningful and fulfilling: taking risks, trying new things, and not being certain of the outcome.

    You are never more alive than when you’re taking a risk. And making a career change at 40 is one of the most interesting risks you’ll ever take!

    Listen to your heart. You’re a smart guy, and you’ll always have your MBA and engineering work to fall back on if the new career path doesn’t work out.

    How can you lose?

  37. Hi Laurie,

    Congratulations for your article!! It represents a lot what many people think and are concerned for. I’m 43 and seriously thinking about starting-over again something 100% different…I´m civil industrial engineer with a top-tier MBA, always being among the first places when studying. However, I have only worked in my family-business (father, brothers, etc) doing general management and this brought me almost-no-relevant-experience for bigger companies, therefore, I spent a couple of years looking for a job with no results. Despite I have my financials 100% solved, I realized that the business and negotiation are not for me (I’m diagnosed as Asperger by the way), wanted a career which allows me to do the primary job…at this time, I’m seriously evaluating a new career in the field of medical sciences, I really like researching and diagnosing. I know that I have to study a lot but I think it could be the best for my situation. My main concern is if I could find an entry-level job in such new field at this age. Do you have any thoughts about the last? Thanks a lot,
    Take care and best for 2016, Pablo

  38. Hello Puja,

    I wonder what the reasons are, that you’re not getting any calls from your resume? This may be a separate issue than making a career change at 40.

    It might be good to ask an objective professional in your field to look at your resume, and give feedback on what could be improved.

  39. Hi,
    Thank you your article was really nice to read. As u know changing career is quite challenging what if u can’t decide on what to do ,what actually you can do . I have done Master in Environmental science . I had worked for 2.5 yrs but then took break of about year now I am luking for job but unfortunately I m not getting any calls I m not getting what I can do with this .Do you have any idea about how to restart .

  40. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Helene,

    I hope you decide to get your MSW, as I really do believe it’s an investment in your future and your self. But I have 3 degrees, I’m a former teacher, and I love school so I’m biased 🙂

    I’m not the best person to ask about getting an MSW because I went back to school more out of boredom with my blogging and freelance writing career. But, after getting my MSW I went right back to my blogs and writing! That doesn’t say as much about the MSW program as it does about me, though. I just love working at home alone, writing.

    Here’s what I wrote after I graduated from UBC – it’s basically a list of pros and cons of the MSW program. Things will no doubt have changed since then (I started in 2012, I believe).


    Take a look through the comments as well, as there is some extra information offered by a reader called Anonymous.

    Good luck with your decision! I think a career change is a great idea at any age. And if you’re 40, so much the better.


  41. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hello Helene,

    If you have specific questions about making a career change or going back to school, please feel free to ask! I can’t give advice or guidance, but I’m happy to share my thoughts in a blog post or this comments section.

    All good things,

    1. Thanks Laurie. My questions pertain to you going back to get an MSW. I am considering the same move this coming fall and would like to speak to someone that has gone before me.

  42. I like the quote by Confucious that says if you love your work you will never work a day in your life. I think this is extremely important in choosing a new job when middle aged. You already have tons of life experience and you probably have a good idea of who you are and what you like and dislike.
    I believe it is extremely important to sit down with a professional and maybe a family member or good friend and really explore what your strengths and weaknesses are. If you enjoy what you do you are definitely more likely to be successful at it.

  43. Making a career change at 40 is scary, especially if you have a mortgage or huge piles of debt. But, if you don’t take any risks in life or with your career, you’ll never grow!

    It’s never too late to be what you might have been. I can’t remember who said this, but it’s great advice for people who are thinking about changing their careers.

  44. Hi Laurie,

    I understand the idea of having fun with a career change at forty, but it’s stressful. I have 3 kids, student loan, mortgage payment, and a wife who doesn’t have a high paying job. I’m changing my career and I’m 44 years old. fun isn’t exactly what is happening, but I appreciate the encouragement.

    Do you have any thoughts on job ideas? I want to change my career but don’t know what direction to go in. I appreciate your thoughts.


  45. Great post on changing careers at 40. I shared it with my audience, military members in career transition. Have a wonderful weekend.