Latter-day Baby Boomers — those born between 1957 and 1964 — held an average of 12.3 jobs between the ages of 18 and 52, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. But almost half of these roles were held between ages 18 and 24.
In today’s world, Millennials are known to change jobs frequently. Older generations ridicule them and say they have a lack of loyalty and commitment, but the fact is, the phenomenon of young people job-hopping is nothing new. But what about people changing careers midlife? This, too, is not something to be feared or mocked. People can change careers at any point.
Are you in need of a new role or industry? We’ve rounded up 15 of the best roles for midlife career changers to help you with your search.
Average salary: $120,113 (Glassdoor)
If you have a mind for numbers, a new career as an actuary could be the right one for you. You’ll usually need a bachelor’s degree, but a master's degree isn’t typically necessary for the role. People come from a wide variety of backgrounds and fields, from computer science to finance to economics, to actuarial science, which leverages math and statistical concepts to help clients understand the financial risk and implications of certain decisions and events.
This is also a great role for those who are eager to interact with other people. Actuaries work with individuals and businesses to assist them with critical decisions. Plus, the field is predicted to grow in the coming years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Average salary: $43,042 (Salary.com)
Today, many administrative assistants can work from home, often as virtual assistants. This often allows you a great amount of flexibility, something you may have been craving in previous roles. Although the salary isn’t as high as some of the others on this list, the nature of the job can provide plenty of benefits, including low stress (this, of course, will vary by the role and employer).
This is an ideal job for people who are efficient and have exceptional organizational skills. In some cases, you might be able to work part-time. You could also have the opportunity to grow quickly in your career and will be able to interact with lots of different departments and professionals.
Average salary: $112,405 (Salary.com)
Consultants’ work requires experience and expertise in fields like finance and healthcare, making it the perfect new role for midlife career changers. You can take your knowledge of business, management and other concepts to help companies and organizations solve problems. You’ll also develop strategies on how to improve operations and other issues and make recommendations about the next steps.
This work is typically project-based, and you will have a lot of flexibility to decide which projects and businesses you want to take on as clients. Many consultants often work independently — although some are employed by businesses — which will give you even more freedom to make your job fit into your life, not the other way around.
Average salary: $50,387 (Glassdoor)
Do you love holding events? If you have experience doing it in your personal life, why not bring that knowledge to your professional life? People can come from practically any career to event planning. It helps if you have strong organizational and people skills and contacts in different niches.
In your role as an event planner, you’ll coordinate practically every aspect of events like business meetings, conferences and conventions, weddings, parties and more. You’ll hire vendors — caterers, entertainment, speakers and so on — make travel arrangements, organize the calendar and even select locations, often working with clients to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Many event planners choose specific niches, such as weddings, which helps them build contacts and gain specialized experience.
Average salary: $66,902 (Glassdoor)
Life experience will give you a solid foundation for a second (or third or fourth) career as a financial planner. In fact, many people in the field initially come from other careers or industries. And there are plenty of skills that are applicable to financial planning.
In this role, you’ll help people manage their money and achieve their financial goals. But your knowledge shouldn’t be limited to finance. Backgrounds in areas like sales, technology and more will also prove useful.
Some financial planners are self-employed, while others work at companies. If you choose to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), you’ll increase your earning potential, as well as open up doors to additional positions.
Average salary: $52,723 (Glassdoor)
All nonprofit organizations, including many schools, hospitals and charitable organizations, depend on donations from the public. Raising that money isn’t an easy or quick process. It requires the skills of someone with the experience and skills to “sell” their mission to outsiders and encourage them to support it.
People with a background in many fields, such as sales, marketing and publicity, will most likely thrive in a career as a fundraiser. But that’s only one reason why it’s a natural fit for many midlife career changers. Often, seasoned professionals have developed strong people skills, which are necessary for establishing relationships with potential donors and others. They can also turn to this career with the knowledge that they’re doing meaningful work.
While base salaries are usually mid-range, once fundraisers have proven themselves successful and valuable to the organizations where they work, they can increase their earning potential.
Average salary: $56,235 (PayScale)
A fast-growing, in-demand field, market research will appeal to people coming from plenty of different fields, including sales, marketing, statistics, data analytics and product development. Many market researchers are self-employed, so they can choose their own clients and hours, giving them some flexibility.
In the role, you’ll research the market demand and conditions for different products and services. Working on behalf of businesses, you’ll identify competitors, determine the target audience niche, pinpoint appropriate price points and maximize the products’ value. They use many different methodologies to perform this work, such as leveraging focus groups and facilitating interviews.
Despite a moderate average annual salary, the earning potential can be very high once you’ve established yourself in the field.
Average salary: $63,621 (Salary.com)
People who want to help others will find plenty of satisfaction in a second career as a patient advocate. Usually working in hospitals, rehabilitation centers and other healthcare facilities, patient advocates, as you can probably guess, work on behalf of patients, dealing with issues like insurance claims and rejections, helping them follow their healthcare and medication plans, assisting them with understanding their options, working with family members, providing resources and information and much more.
Although patient advocates are not healthcare practitioners, people with backgrounds in the field, such as former nurses, will be well-prepared to tackle this important field. Given that they act as a liaison between patients and providers, knowledge of healthcare will help them translate terminology and better facilitate communication. People with experience working in nonprofit organizations will also thrive in patient advocacy, given that they require overlapping sets of skills and knowledge.
Average salary: $51,888 (Glassdoor)
Project management is an extremely important role in practically any industry you can imagine. Chances are, you have at least some experience managing projects already.
While it may be difficult to land a role as a project manager immediately — unless you have extensive experience facilitating products and managing work and people — many people start in the more junior role of project coordinator and quickly work their way up to overseeing a team and earning a higher salary. Salaries are often especially high in fields like software development and IT, where project management is critical to the operations. That’s not to say you can’t start as a project manager at smaller companies, especially if you’ve used a lot of the necessary skills in your previous career.
Either way, you’ll need to be extremely well-organized, have exceptional communication skills and be able to adapt easily to changing circumstances and unexpected challenges. It also helps to have some knowledge of the field in which you’re looking to work. Attaining certifications, such as Project Management Professional (PMP), will also help you land roles.
Average salary: $55,351 (Glassdoor)
Working on behalf of individuals and/or businesses, publicists play a critical role in developing, presenting and maintaining their clients’ public image. They will write and send out press releases about products, services and goings-on, arrange appearances, pitch media outlets and generate positive attention, all while managing negative attention.
Publicists will find previous careers in related fields like marketing, communications and sales very applicable to second careers in the field. People coming from media and journalism are also likely to do well in publicity — for one, they will find the contact they’ve made extremely useful in generating buzz for clients. You’ll need to have exceptional communication skills, as well as people skills.
Average salary: $68,256 (Indeed)
Real estate is an extremely popular second-career choice. People come from a huge number of different industries to market and sell properties, from sales (a natural transition) to insurance.
You don’t need a college degree to work in real estate, either, although to be a broker, as opposed to an agent, you must be licensed to own your own firm. Real estate agents must be licensed to sell properties, but they are not able to sell independently and must work under a licensed broker.
This is also a very flexible job. If you’re a broker, you’ll be able to set your own hours and even do it part-time. You should have strong communication skills and be personable.
Average salary: $51,707 (PayScale)
Here’s a field that’s necessary for nearly every industry. Locating and hiring talent is difficult and time-intensive, so businesses often leave the job to in-house or external recruiters. Recruiters may work independently, on behalf of companies or with recruiting firms. Often, they develop contacts and experience in a specific field, such as tech or publishing. If you’re looking to break into recruiting, you may well find that your experience in your previous field will serve you well if you establish that field as your niche.
If you’ve been in a management role, you’ll easily be able to transfer your interviewing skills to a new position as a recruiter. But even if you haven’t, there are many skills that will be applicable to a new career in the field, such as communication, problem-solving and interpersonal skills.
Average salary: $65,269 (Indeed)
Working in sales can be extremely lucrative as you build your reputation. Many sales reps receive bonuses on top of their base salaries if they reach certain thresholds. Moreover, it’s a great job for career-changers because you can leverage plenty of skills you’ve gained in previous roles. Often, you’ll have lots of flexibility and be able to work from your home base — most sales reps are assigned specific territories — although it will usually involve some travel.
It’s a good idea to focus on a specific industry or niche, such as education, tech or media, in order to establish contacts and build relationships, which are necessary for success in sales.
Average salary:$106,013 (Indeed)
People coming from jobs in engineering and math/statistics will find that software development a natural transition. But those coming from other careers, even those in the humanities, can thrive in the role, too. Unless you already have experience programming, you’ll probably want to take a course or complete a Bootcamp to get up to speed, but once you do, you’ll find plenty of possibilities in the field.
Even right out of the gate, you’re looking at a three-figure salary (on average), and as you gain experience in software development, you’ll be primed to increase your professional value tenfold. There’s also the fact that software development is a rapidly-growing, extremely in-demand field. In some cases — including at many tech giants — you won’t even need to have a college degree to succeed.
Average salary: $65,930 (US News)
Being a subject matter expert in any given field will prime you for a career as a teacher. It’s not a natural fit for everyone — you’ll need to have a lot of patience and strong organizational, communication and collaboration skills — but many people choose second careers in education.
Requirements vary by state if you want to teach in a public school, but usually, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certification or preparation. Private schools have individual requirements, but often, you won’t need a teacher certification. You can also choose less traditional paths, such as teaching English to people abroad online or tutoring students.
Should you change careers midlife? Everyone is different, of course, but for some, this is the perfect time for a switch because:
Even if you truly loved your job at one point or another, the spark may no longer be there. You could just be emotionally — and perhaps physically — exhausted and feel like you’re not getting satisfaction out of your work anymore. To prevent burnout, an all-too-common phenomenon, changing careers after you’ve put so many years into a particular industry could be the right move for you.
Perhaps you have children who are growing up. Maybe you want more time to travel and do the things you really love. Whatever the reason, many people are looking for more flexibility — flexibility that your current role just can’t give you. It could be the perfect time to find a new job in a different industry that gives you more opportunity to give you the hours you need to do the things you really love.
Your life probably looks a little (or a lot) different from how it did in your 20s and 30s. As your life is changing, so, too, may be your priorities. Perhaps your current job doesn’t allow for the work-life balance that emphasizes the life part of the equation, but a new career just might.
Maybe, for whatever reason, you just never felt the timing was right for leaving your current or previous career. Midlife might just be the ideal time to make the switch. Perhaps you’ve just been waiting for the right moment to do it, and it’s finally arrived.
If you’ve struggled in a job you really, really, don’t like (okay, hate) for decades, it’s important for your own sense of fulfillment to not waste a second longer. Sure, the money might be good, but now, you’ve probably had several years of that salary and some good savings in the bank. Isn’t it time to do something you really love for a change? Plus, after you’ve gained some experience in your new field, you may even make up for the salary cut.
You’ve decided to make the career change. Congratulations! Now it’s time to figure out how to do it.
The first step is to evaluate your skills. If you’re very self-aware, you can probably do this on your own, making a list of your strengths — even if you don’t think they’re career-specific — as well as your weaknesses. But if you’re struggling, you might consider working with a professional, like a career counselor, to help you identify them. A career counselor will probably administer a series of career tests to help you pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses and figure out how you can best leverage them.
At the same time, it’s important to correlate these skills with your interests. Just best you’re good at something doesn’t mean you particularly like doing it. Once you’ve identified these skills and interests, consider different professions in which they might apply.
You should be open to the possibility of learning new skills. Perhaps you’ve discovered that your dream job utilizes a lot of your strengths, but one is missing. Don’t let that deter you.
This isn’t necessarily the case, but you should try to accept the idea that you may have to take a pay cut when you’re starting out in a new industry. It’s a good idea to get used to the idea and not let it hold you back. If you’re struggling financially and your current job will be more financially lucrative than a prospective new role, then perhaps the timing just isn’t right.
You may also have to sacrifice a high-level title. Perhaps you were a director at your previous job, but when you’re just getting your foot in the door, it’s possible that you may have to be an individual contributor again. But even if you need to make these sacrifices now, it could very well pay off down the line.
Some people think that if they change careers, they’ll be wasting the experience and skills they’ve gained over the past several years or decades. But this often isn’t the case. In many cases, you can leverage and apply your previous experience to a new role, even if it seems very different from your current one.
Many skills are transferable. Your experience working in marketing, developing promotional strategies, could easily apply to a new role as a recruiter, where you’ll be tasked with pitching roles and promoting positions to qualified candidates, for example.
Moreover, the network you’ve gained over the years can also help you identify and land roles in new industries. These connections can serve you well in both changing careers and getting up to speed.
Is it time for a career change? Only you can truly answer that question. But the people around you can help you make the transition. As you contemplate a big move, don’t be afraid to ask for help and take the time you need to make a thoughtful decision.