Thinking about making a midlife career change? You’re not the only one. Plenty of famous people have found their greatest work later in life.
For example, Julia Child published her first cookbook at 50 after a career in advertising. Stan Lee, creator of Spiderman and other Marvel superheroes, didn't publish his first comic book until he was 39. And Henry Ford created his Model T at 45.
As long as you have the drive and ambition to push through, it's never too late to go after your dream career. Read on to learn why a successful career change at 40 is still possible, what challenges come your way, and how starting a business could be a viable option.
Is It Too Late to Change Careers at 40?
Going through a career transition at age 40 comes with obstacles. So you might wonder, is it too late to change careers?
The answer is no. On the contrary, you have assets that could work in your favor during your new job search. Let’s dive into the reasons why there’s still time to go after a second career.
Despite what you may think, your age is a strength not a weakness
Over the past decades, you’ve been able to build work experience and robust skill sets. Your transferable skills in leadership, communication, and adaptability can be useful in finding a new career.
For example, your leadership skills could potentially make you the perfect manager or business owner. You’ll be able to lead a team of employees and empower them to do their best on the job.
Another great asset is your ability to communicate for different audiences. During your career, you’ve likely attended any number of meetings with various groups — maybe executive management, contractors, potential clients, or peers. The communication skills that helped you then will come in handy when you’re networking for your new career.
You’ve already built a strong network
Over the years, you may have worked with different companies or built connections with professionals in industries other than your own. Unlike someone who’s just entered the workforce, you already have access to a reliable network of contacts that can help you find new opportunities.
A strong network is especially helpful if you’re planning to start your own business. You can reach out for lead generation to find new clients or leverage your contacts to connect with a seasoned entrepreneur who can show you the ropes.
Plus, networking has never been easier thanks to social media. You can use LinkedIn to spread the word about yourself or your new business and get in touch with leaders in your new industry.
Changing careers is easier than you think
Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of resources readily available to help you explore a different career.
For example, mySkills myFuture, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, helps people find new career paths based on your past jobs and experience. The tool identifies career options that use similar skills you already have and provides information on what additional training you may need to get the job.
If you do need training, many of the courses you can take are also available online. They’re typically less expensive — sometimes even free — compared to going back to school. Here are a couple of platforms to consider:
- Udemy: With more than 100,000 training courses on various subjects, Udemy is one of the most popular learning platforms out there. You can use it to learn more about sales, programming, social media marketing, and more.
- Coursera: This site offers courses from top universities and companies, such as Yale and Google. You can often get industry-recognized certificates to show off your newfound knowledge.
Challenges With changing careers at 40
Deep down, you know it’s time for a change. But for some reason, you still can’t get yourself to take action.
So what’s holding you back?
It’s always intimidating to embark on something new — especially if you’ve been doing the same thing for decades. Below, we’ve identified the three most common fears blocking you from switching to your dream job:
You fear what others are going to think
As much as we don't want to admit it, peer pressure can get the best of us. You may fear the potential backlash from friends and family.
During this process, sit down with loved ones to discuss why this choice is important to you. Explain how taking on this new career path is the opportunity to bring more income, or pursue something you’re truly passionate about.
You’re worried about retirement
According to the US Census Bureau, the average age for retirement is 65 for men and 63 for women. Many 40-somethings worry about how switching careers could affect their retirement plans.
It’s still possible to keep up with retirement savings while you hunt for a new career. The key is to plan ahead — you need to determine how long it’s going to take to build this new career, and set up an emergency fund from there.
What matters is that you enjoy what you do. It’s better to land a job you’ll be passionate about than to push through a career you hate for 20 more years.
You’re scared you’re too old to be hired
When switching careers, you’re likely concerned about how your age may affect your options in the job market.
We often talk about gender and racial discrimination at work, but rarely do we discuss ageism. According to a 2019 study done by insurance company Hiscox, 44% of employees know someone who was discriminated against based on their age in the workplace.
While ageism does exist, it shouldn’t be a reason to back down from finding your dream career in a new field. As a 40-something, you offer a depth of real-world experience that most young people lack.
Why you should consider starting your own company
When it comes to changing careers, there are plenty of opportunities at your disposal. There’s another career move, however, that presents an attractive opportunity — starting your own business.
Here are the reasons why starting a business could be part of your new career plan:
Older entrepreneurs are more successful
We often hear stories of the young entrepreneurs who drop out of college to pursue their dreams. But did you know older business owners may even be more likely to succeed?
A study by the Census Bureau, Kellogg School, and three MIT professors determined the optimal age for starting a business. During their research, they found that a business started by a 50-year-old entrepreneur is twice as likely to be successful as one built by a 30-year-old.
You control your work-life balance
As we get stuck into the 9-to-5 routine, it’s easy to forget about our personal life and health.
A perk of running a successful business is that you can make work-life balance a priority. You're the one who creates your schedule, including setting your hours and choosing the tasks you need to take on.
We have a path to help you get there
Building a business is hard work, but with the right mindset and attitude, it isn’t out of reach. If you have a solid track record of achievements in your career, you can use the same discipline to launch a company.
It all comes down to finding a reliable model so you get on the path to profitability as quickly as possible. When you join Main Street, you gain access to our proven and tested playbook to generate earnings fast. Our team provides selected entrepreneurs with top-level training and cutting-edge technology to make sure they’re on the right track.
First of all, give yourself credit. It’s courageous to change directions mid-career. But by trying something new, you can find a role you’ll be excited about.
The first step to changing careers at 40 is to believe that it's possible. You have valuable skills and experience that can translate well into the next phase of your career, including starting your own business.
If you want to learn more about self-employment, make sure to read our tips on how to become your own boss.