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Is 40 Too Old To Change Careers?

Making the decision to change careers in your 40s is a big decision to make. It may be a no-brainer for some people, but most of us in that situation are faced with a very intimidating choice to make. Am I being silly? Is it a mid-life crisis? Is 40 too old to change careers?

You are certainly not too old to change your career in your 40s. In fact, there are many reasons and advantages to changing careers in your 40s. On average, forty-somethings are only halfway through their working life, meaning they still have another twenty-plus years before retirement. 

Is 40 Too Old To Change Careers

It’s likely to be a challenging choice to change careers at 40, but if it’s something you want to or must do, then you should do it. Thankfully, many 40-year-olds have changed jobs successfully, and we can learn from their wisdom and experiences. You’re not the first to change careers in your 40s, and you won’t be the last. So let’s find out more about how to go about it.

40 Is Not Too Old To Change Careers

A person in their 40s is still young enough to change careers. Whoever said otherwise was short-sighted. If you have a nagging sense of unhappiness in your current job, it’s probably not a mid-life crisis. It is better to make a career change sooner rather than waiting too long so that you can grow in your new career and get the most out of it before retirement.

You will probably feel the need to change many other things too. You might even want as well to learn a new language or go backpacking.

Myths About Changing Careers At 40

Some misconceptions about changing careers at 40 can sow seeds of doubt in your mind. However, it is essential to remember that nothing is impossible when you have the right attitude and are determined to succeed, despite what others might say.

Myth 1: You’re Too Old To Change Careers

You are halfway through your working lifespan when you are in your forties. Do you want to spend the next twenty-plus years of your work life unhappy or unfulfilled? You’re definitely young enough to improve your work situation.

Myth 2: You Should Have Your Life Sorted By 40

People who have their life sorted by 40 are the fortunate few. However, life throws us curveballs when we least expect it. Examples include possible life-changing events such as a worldwide pandemic, depression, losing a loved one, an accident resulting in disability, divorce, etc. Another curveball is realizing your career choice in your 20s doesn’t suit you, and that’s okay!

Additionally, new opportunities and jobs arise as technology advances and populations develop. Some of the careers available today didn’t exist 20 years back, and they might appeal to you. Life is not one straight road that you have to stick to. Instead, it is a network of opportunities waiting to be explored.

Myth 3: You Should Have One Career For Your Whole Life

Deciding on one career for the rest of your working life is a daunting task – especially if you are a teen making that decision. So, consider how different you are now from when you were a teen or in your early twenties. It is human nature to develop and mature, and we should not stagnate because of some myth.

Having one career your whole life is great – that is, if you love your job. However, this myth is quite old-fashioned in that you went to college after school and then worked 40 to 50 years in the same career or company. This order of things worked for a long time, but nowadays, this mentality is changing.

Myth 4: You Will Have To Start At The Bottom Again

If you are starting a whole new career, it probably means learning new skills. Starting at the bottom might mean you have a boss younger than you or that the person training you is younger than you. So what? You can put your pride in your pocket and absorb what you need to learn. Remember you have transferrable skills and a level of maturity that could help accelerate your progress.

Myth 5: You’ll Have To Go Back To College

Depending on your new career choice, you may need to learn a few new skills and increase your knowledge. First, check which of your existing skills and experience are transferrable. For example, they might be counted as credits toward training.

Many colleges offer online courses where you can study remotely and then write the exam online or at an exam center. So, going back to college isn’t an impossible feat if you have to do it. It will require some time management, though, especially if you have to work and have family commitments.

Reasons To Change Your Career In Your 40s

The decision to change your career can be intimidating, but you feel it is time to do it. Below are some reasons why people change their careers in their 40s.

A Toxic Work Environment

Toxic work environments can make you feel down, undervalued, and plain angry. Working in an environment like that daily is unlikely to give you an optimistic outlook on life. A person working in a toxic environment may want to consider a change of career if it will preserve their sanity for the next twenty years.

Company Restructuring

Sometimes you have no choice but to change your career, especially if you have been made redundant due to your company downsizing or retrenching staff. It may be that you cannot find a job in the same field and are forced to look into a career change. Job insecurity is a good reason to start investigating a career change.

Growing Financial Needs

By 40, many people have increased financial expectations and needs. The increased financial burden could be due to a growing family, a mortgage on a home, transport costs, and inflation. If your current career income doesn’t cover your living costs, it is reasonable to look for a new career to meet those needs.

Desire To Improve Future Prospects

Examples of future prospects include your retirement plans, plans to buy a holiday home, personal projects, and overall health. If your current career and income will serve you poorly down the line, it is better to make a career change sooner instead of waiting too long. Then, you will have a longer time frame to prepare and save for an improved future for yourself.

A Glass Ceiling At Work

A ‘Glass Ceiling’ in the workplace is when you have no more room for growth in that specific career. You may have achieved the highest level within a company, and the prospect of promotion is zero. If you think you’d get bored in the same position for twenty years or need to earn more, it is an excellent reason to seek a career change.

5 Advantages Of Changing Careers At 40

As daunting as it may be for you to consider changing careers at 40, some advantages can make it a practical choice.

1. Your New Career Will Be More Meaningful To You

If you take the step to change careers in your 40s, the chances are that you won’t make the decision lightly. By now, you have realized what type of environment you prefer (or dislike) and what appeals to you. In addition, your years of experience, knowledge, and self-awareness will be invested in your new career, making it more meaningful.

2. You Can Improve Your Mental Health

Changing your career in your 40s can improve your mental health. Sure, it is potentially stressful, and you might initially doubt yourself. However, moving away from an environment that no longer serves you to one that is challenging and makes you happy will pay for itself. Plus, you will spend the rest of your working life doing something you enjoy.

3. You’ve Matured And Have Work Experience

You have learned some life lessons by the time you’re in your 40s. You also have work experience, which exposed you to working relationships and developed various skills. Some of the skills you have gained in your existing years of work will be transferable to your new career.

4. You Can Still Be Productive In Your 40s

By age 40, you have learned how to streamline your work and become more productive. The ability to prioritize tasks and focus your energy on what is essential is a valuable skill that will help you in your new career.

5. Changing Careers Can Improve Your Confidence

Making a career change requires confidence and hard work. However, once you have successfully changed careers, you will realize what you are capable of, which will boost your confidence. In addition, you might learn that you have fantastic skills you didn’t know about.

Possible Challenges Of Changing Careers At 40

Most big decisions come with potential challenges. Changing careers is no exception. So what are the challenges you might face when changing careers in your 40s?

Money Might Be An Issue In The Beginning

If you decide to change careers in your 40s, the transition period may be a bit tough financially. Below are some financial issues that may spring up during this time:

  • If you start at an entry-level position at your new job, you may have to take a pay cut.
  • You may have study-related fees relating to your new career.
  • You might need to take time off or unpaid leave from your current job to prepare for your new career.

Responsibilities At Home

The chances are that you have responsibilities at home. Home-related responsibilities include those to your partner, children, home upkeep, and mortgage payments. You should factor in these responsibilities when planning your career change. For example, the potential cut in income, your training time, or your new work hours.

How To Change Careers In Your 40s

If you have decided it’s definitely time for a change of career, you can do a bit of homework to prepare yourself for your plan. Here are some helpful tips to guide you:

Assess And Improve Your Skills

Assessing your existing skills is a good idea because it’ll give you an idea of which skills are transferable and what you would need to work on. A person willing to work on personal development is more self-aware and directed. If necessary, you can take a career test. You may be surprised at the results!

You can also ask yourself why you want to change careers. For example, is it because you aren’t earning enough? Are you unhappy? Is it peer or family pressure? Are you being influenced by what you see on social media? Knowing why you want to change is valuable, as it can help you determine if it is a justifiable move.

Prepare Your Resume

It might be time for a resume update if you have worked in the same career for ages. Look at modern examples and templates of resumes to help you design your new resume. Then tailor your resume accordingly. Be sure to include your transferable skills in a cover letter or within the resume. Valuable transferable skills include the following:

  • Adaptability
  • Analytical skills
  • Collaboration
  • Communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Leadership skills

You can also join professional networking sites to expose you to the market. You can filter your requirements on online job sites that will give you an idea of what is available in your scope.

Do Your Research

Making a career change in your 40s should be well thought out. Do your research and gather as much knowledge about job opportunities around you. Where possible, experiment with new opportunities.

You can also look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics to get an idea of what certain professions earn in various parts of the country.

Career Options In Your 40s

If you want to change your career but don’t know what you should choose, the following careers are popular options for people in their 40s.

  • Blogger
  • Business Analyst
  • Dental Assistant
  • Digital Marketing
  • Events Coordinator
  • Fitness Trainer
  • Freelancer or Consultant
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Marketer
  • Medical Administrative Assistant
  • Patient Care Technician
  • Project Manager
  • Real Estate Agent
  • SEO Specialist
  • Tax Preparation Specialist
  • Translator
  • Web Developer


A person in their 40s is not too old to change careers. They will have the knowledge and transferable skills to help them in their new job. The change will require hard work and research, but the benefits of doing so may well outweigh the challenges.