Career change at 40

What do you want to be when you grow up? We were all asked that question time and time again when we were children. The answers were usually wildly inconsistent and experimental and varied day to day, with no prejudice. The more eclectic the answers, the more our junior creativity was celebrated. So why do we stop asking the question once we actually have grown up and are in the world of work? And why are we expected to choose a career when we are barely more than children ourselves and then stick with it for life?

The answer to the above, of course, is that you don’t have to. After all, we spend a large portion of our lives at work, so why shouldn’t it be spent doing something that inspires and motivates us? The biggest barrier to all of this is simply working out how and when to take the step. Some people find that a significant birthday can be the trigger for change that they are looking for.  So if you are thinking of taking the plunge and planning a career change at 40, then we have a few tips to help you along the way.

Voluntary Work
If you lack experience on your CV, but believe you have transferrable skills, consider voluntary work. This can be an excellent way of boosting your CV and making connections.

Work Experience
If you are interested in trying on a career for size before committing, then work experience is an excellent way to test it out for yourself and to prove your worth to any future employer. Especially useful for skills based careers, if you are willing to learn on the job and forgo a salary, there might even be the prospect of a job at the end of it.

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, you need to look at the pathway into your career. You may be able to do on the job training, or it might involve further studying. In some cases bursaries are available for funding. It is worth doing your homework and researching what financial awards you might be eligible for.

Remote / online studying
If time, work or family won’t allow you to consider the option of full time studying, then you always have the option of remote or online courses. This type of learning used to be constrained to the Open University, but these days many universities offer remote studying.

No idea what you want to do?
If you are dreaming of a change, with no idea of what you want to do, then it might be an idea to get in touch with a careers adviser. We offer online assessments matching your skills and talents with possible career paths and one to one personalised careers guidance.

Whatever the steps you decide to take along the way, don’t stop dreaming and settle for a compromise. Aim high.

Find out more about making that career change at 40 on our careers advice for adults page.