__Thinking about switching careers in your thirties?__ You're not alone. It's totally normal for your interests to change with age. For most people, what you enjoyed at 23 is not what you enjoy at 32; perhaps you want to make more money, find work-life balance, or use your career to make a difference in the world. Your reasons might even be a mix of all these. Whatever it is, you’re in your thirties and have realized you want—even need—a career change.
Where to begin? For many, choosing a career path begins in high school or college, and is often assisted by family, friends, school counselors, or mentors. As an adult, you may feel as though you’re on your own. Will you need to go back to school and start from scratch, or can you look to a course or certification program to learn any necessary skills? Can you survive a pay cut, even temporarily? What if it doesn't work out? Before we answer any of the above, let's start with some basics.
In this article, we'll cover:
By approaching a career change in your thirties with your eyes wide open, you can avoid disappointment—and take advantage of every benefit.
If you're sensing the gut-feeling that your current career is no longer right for you, consider taking these steps.
1. Think about whether you need a total change, or to tweak your current career. Could you make a lateral move and preserve the knowledge, skills, and contacts you have without starting over again? Could you use your existing knowledge and skills for work in a related field? Would you need further education, training, or upskilling? It's crucial that you think carefully to ensure you’re making the right decision—and avoid leaving your job without a plan.
2. Identify a new career. This may be obvious to you, but if not, consider your personal interests, current knowledge and skills, financial concerns and the career lifestyle factors that are most important to you, such as schedule flexibility, team size, benefits, or anything else that comes to mind. Which jobs could allow you the best combination of all of these? Talk to friends about their careers and browse job openings in your area (or elsewhere, if you’re open to moving).
3. Speak to a career counselor. They can help identify a possible new career by highlighting your strengths, creating a career plan, and providing honest feedback throughout your search. If you don't know where to find professionals, the National Board of Certified Counselors can help you find accredited career counselors in your area.
4. Talk to people who have the job you think you want. Set up informational interviews with people who work in the field or for the organization you’re interested in. The experience will allow you to gain insight from knowledgable professionals as you pursue a career change, and also help you grow your network and practice for job interviews later on.
5. Add to your savings, if possible. This is an especially important to-do before handing in resignation at your current job or committing to any long-term courses. If you need to complete a training or degree program, you may need to go without a regular salary for a while and then possibly spend some time unemployed while job hunting.
A career change in your thirties might require some retraining or upskilling, or even going back to school.
If you haven't completed a bachelor’s degree, now could be the time. College graduates typically earn more over than those who have only finished high school, and they're also hired to more jobs. According to a Georgetown University study, nine of out ten new jobs created in 2017 went to those with college degrees.
Unlike learning on the job as previous generations once did, employers now prefer candidates to be better trained and even possess advanced skills in particularly fast-growing fields, which is helped through higher education.
Grad school may be a good option if you’re passionate about an area of study and want to pursue it more in-depth. There's also chance it will be obligatory, since career opportunities that require a masters-level of study or higher span almost every field.
If you choose a path of this type, take time to think critically about your options before making the commitment to continue your education. That means considering the length of time and cost of your program, as well as your ability to juggle school with work, family, financial, and any other obligations. All of this will factor into the format (on-campus, online, or hybrid) and schedule (full-time or part-time) you choose.
Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) are offered by universities around the world and are ideal if you want to learn about an industry without making as hefty of a financial commitment as you would seeking a degree. Through courses facilitated by expert instructors, you'll complete assignments, participate in seminars, and connect with peers as you grow your understanding and within a potential field.
When mapping out a new path, having a variety of tools at your fingertips can make a huge difference in helping you feel confident at the start of your journey and later, find success and gratification in a new career. These resources will come in handy whether you're fine-tuning your strengths, weighing industry options, seeking help with school loans, or looking to network in a new industry. Best of all, they're free.
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