Can I Have a Career Change at 40?

Written by Calvin Bowers
Last updated August 10, 2020

With numerous experienced professionals on our team here at Refreshing a Career, we know how it feels to be invested in one career path. After two decades of working in one field, you will be heavily experienced and may have even made some progress climbing the corporate ladder within your company. However, a career change cannot be viewed as a waste of those years. In that time, you experience the challenges and rewards that you wanted and needed at that point in your life. But, if you chose that career at 18, your wants and needs have had two decades to mature and change.

The UK economy is changing faster than ever before, and it is reported that up to 35% of UK jobs could be automated or replaced by AI by 2030. This has meant that fields or careers that looked like they were thriving and plentiful 20 years ago are now stagnating and stifling.

One of the biggest misconceptions about pursuing a career change at 40 is that it would limit your potential progression. The reality for many Brits is that their industries and careers are no longer offering the expansive prospects they once were. Just like 47% of working-age people in the UK, you are feeling like your career is no longer fulfilling. This is often caused by how there are new ceilings to your career progression, which have reduced the number of challenges we all thrive on. By staying in the same stagnant career, you are conceding to the gambler’s fallacy of throwing good years after bad. Staying where you are more than likely means staying still. Only by moving to an expanding, innovative industry will you really fulfil your future potential.

The true question is not whether you can afford to switch careers, but if you can afford not to. If you are able to retire at 65, you still have over half of your career to reach the heights that you want. But, if you wait 5, 10 or 15 years, it becomes increasingly difficult to make that switch. Can you afford to stay in a career where you are unsatisfied and unrewarded?

Am I Capable of Working in a New Industry?

So you’ve realised that switching careers is an appealing prospect, but you’re wondering if you really have what it takes.

Think back to when you had just left full-time education, and how little you knew about work-life, how to interact with your colleagues, how to best invest your time and how to get the job done. Among many others, these are all examples of the essential skills that are transferable to any career. For every challenge that you overcame, you were better prepared for the next one, even if it was completely different. That is the same with switching careers. Even if you want the polar opposite occupation to the one you currently hold, there are a multitude of transferable skills that will make reaching the same heights that much quicker and easier.

In today’s ever-changing industry, your greatest asset is your ability to adapt. This, however, is the scariest thing of all; it has been discovered that change is the greatest cause of anxiety. Having confidence in your own worth and ability is the most important skill to being successful in making a career switch.

To have such confidence, you need to make sure that you are prepared. This mostly includes having thoroughly researched your new career to make sure that it is the right one for you. Being able to take an extended holiday is important to giving you that time and perspective to give you the confidence to make the jump. It is no surprise, then, that 1 in 5 people have used their time during the coronavirus lockdown to plan a new career.

If you want to find out some of the potential benefits of choosing a new career, check out our guide. For those that feel ready to take their first steps towards a new career, you can find all the essential information about how to retrain on our site.

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Last Updated: Tuesday February 14 2023
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