Are you thinking about making a career change at 50? It’s not too late to pursue a career that can help you better prepare for retirement or to work in a field that you’re passionate about.
Whatever your reasons are for considering a career change at 50, you may still have questions. You may not be sure whether your situation justifies the switch. If you decide to pursue a better career, what’s the best career change at 50 plus for your needs? What about making a career change at 50 with no degree currently — how can you navigate getting the right education?
The following sections examine how to decide if a career change at 50 is right for you, some good career choices over 50, and how to actually create a plan for making the change. Note that all employment data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Exploring Your Career and Personal Needs
When you think about a career change at 50, the first thing you need to do is to take a closer look at your situation. Do you really need to make the change? And if so, then you’ll need to consider what you value in a new career.
It can help to look at some common reasons why people make the career change at 50. One of the following situations might relate to you.
Some careers don’t have much to offer in terms of opportunity, and sometimes it’s so bad that you’re worried about getting laid off. Those concerns can be amplified if you didn’t need a college degree to get into your current career, but now it’s expected. A lot of people consider changing careers at 50 because things look bleak. If you can’t move up, and you’re not even sure you can remain where you are until retirement, then you might want to be proactive and leave on your own terms.
Financial reasons can cause people at any age to look for a better career, and that’s also true for people wanting to make the career change at 50. If you’re not making enough money now, that might not change as you get closer and closer to retirement age. The smart play here may be to keep working while you get the education needed to be in a more lucrative career field. Then, with a bump in salary, you can start saving much more money, and you’ll be in a better spot to retire.
Your reason for changing careers at 50 doesn’t have to be about finances, growth opportunities, or job security. If you don’t like what you’re doing, then why not consider some career choices over 50 that will enhance your happiness? This isn’t the time of your life to feel stuck with what you’re doing each day. After all, this part of life should be marked by retirement planning, spending time with your family and friends, maybe some vacation plans, and other things. You shouldn’t have to deal with dissatisfaction in your career.
Some of those examples can help you examine why you want to make a career change at 50. After some thought, you’ll be able to decide if you actually want to move forward. If so, you can start to think about what’s important in your next career.
Remember that it’s OK to have some anxiety about these types of decisions. Making a career change at 50 may seem drastic or unnatural, but it’s not that uncommon. Plus, don’t ignore what happens if you do nothing. Remaining in a career that undermines your happiness or your retirement plans can have serious consequences for you and your family.
If you’d like to change your career, the next sections can help. We’ve listed a few good career choices over 50, and then you can look at some advice on how to make a realistic, actionable plan for completing your transition.
Career Change at 50 Ideas
Have you decided on making the career change at 50? Your next step is to choose what career you’d like to pursue. Consider the type of work you’d like to do along with salary and job growth figures. Place the appropriate weight on what you’d like in your future career, such as how much salary impacts your decision.
Here are just a few options for a career change at 50 ideas.
Business offers something for everyone. If you like interacting with people a lot, you could consider changing careers to business fields like management and human resources. If you’re more of a numbers person, something like accounting or finance could be a good fit. Marketing fits well across the spectrum. Lucrative careers are a notable strength for business. For instance, accountants and auditors, financial analysts, and human resources specialists all exceed a median annual wage of $70,000. Management occupations form the highest wage of all major occupational groups ($104,240), and advertising sales agents earn about $52,000.
Nursing isn’t so much about the money, although that’s a strength of this career field. Registered nurses earn a median annual wage of about $72,000, and as a bonus, they enjoy high growth numbers, with employment projected to increase 15% by 2026. Figures go up for advanced clinical and management roles in nursing. At any rate, the main reason changing careers to nursing is to be able to help patients. Having that kind of impact is a powerful way to find meaning in your career.
Social work is another field that focuses on helping people. After changing careers to social work, you’ll be able to help individuals in at-risk populations and be involved with prevention and early intervention efforts at higher levels of change. Although earnings aren’t as strong as other fields, social work is well above the median annual wage for all occupations ($37,690). Social workers earn $49,470, and there is good salary growth in certain environments. For instance, social workers who are employed in hospitals earn more than $60,000, and those working in local government earn $54,430. Social workers are in strong demand, with a projected employment increase of 16% by 2026.
Making the Career Change at 50
Once you’ve selected the career you’d like to pursue, the next step is to create a plan for pursuing that goal. In most cases, that plan starts with earning a degree. You may not feel confident with how you’ll do that, though. The thought of advancing your education at this age can be a little worrying, but it doesn’t have to prevent you from reaching your goal.
How to Get the Education You Need
A key to making the career change at 50 is taking advantage of online education. That method of learning makes it easy to fit a degree into your schedule.
Just think about the alternative to online learning. If you had to commute to a local college or university to advance your education, you’d spend a lot of time just driving back and forth and have to attend lectures at certain times. All of that on top of making time at home to read and perform coursework. Could you do all of that at this stage of your life?
Online education removes commuting and having to be in the classroom at certain times. Instead of driving to and from school at least a few times a week, you simply log into a virtual classroom. Instead of attending lectures at a certain time, you study whenever it works best for your schedule.
You may be a little weary of online education. The good news is that learning online doesn’t require you to be tech savvy. If you can read email and surf the internet, you can learn online. Additionally, online schools have dedicated professionals who are there to answer any questions you have. If you need help accessing your online classroom or run into even the smallest of technical issues, you can simply pick up the phone and talk to someone who can help you.
Online degree options can also accommodate face-to-face learning in hybrid programs. Hybrid programs take place mostly online but have on-campus requirements, as well. Whether you want some face-to-face time or want to do it all online, you can have whatever version works best for you.
Once you locate your online program, you’ll be on your way to pursuing your dream career.
How to Start Your New Career
Once you graduate, you’ll be that much closer to achieving your goals. All that you’ll have left to do is to search for a position in your new career field.
Look into what your school offers for career services. Online degree programs have a lot of great ways to help you search for jobs. Take advantage of assistance with career placement services, resume and cover letter writing, and more. You might be surprised what you’ll encounter, and you’ll receive some great tips on finding and appealing to employers.
Another tip is to network. The connections you make in your degree program, from your peers to your professors, can help you in terms of references. Some might even know of a specific job opportunity, too. Remember that it’s never too early to network, so make sure you do that while you’re advancing your education.
Before you apply to positions, update your resume to include any relevant experience or skills. Remember to work on writing strong cover letters. In your cover letters, highlight the passion you have for your new career and discuss what you bring to the table. You might want to have people in your personal and professional circles read your resume and cover letters to help improve those documents.
Making a career change at 50 doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Reaching your goal is possible by taking things one step at a time. Do that and you can be on your way to a better career that meets your needs.