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Everything You Need to Know About Making a Career Change at 40

Do you want summer to last forever? Your 40s are a pivotal time of growth and exploration, and this includes your professional life. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut career-wise, it’s never too late to explore other options.

When you are in need of some inspiration, take a look at this list of illustrious individuals whose success peaked after their 40th birthday. From Julia Child and Martha Stewart to Abraham Lincoln and Henry Ford, you’re in good company.

Still, navigating a career change at 40 might leave you feeling overwhelmed. That’s why we’re here!

Today, we’re sharing a complete guide to taking this next step with confidence. Read on as we discuss where to look, what to do, and how to approach every move with a fearless spirit.

What You’ll Learn in This Article

Common Fears of a Career Change at 40

If you’re feeling a little uneasy about this new journey, understand that this is totally normal.

Starting a new career at any age is intimidating, especially if you’re considering joining a brand-new field that you’ve never worked in before. A few of the fears that might be whispering in your mind include:

  • What if I’m not good at this?
  • What if I don’t make enough money?
  • What if I don’t fit in?
  • What if the job requirements are too high-tech?
  • What if no one wants to hire someone my age?
  • What if it’s just too late?

This stress and uncertainty are only heightened if you’re currently working at a job that you’ve had for years. You’re comfortable and making a steady income, so is starting all over from scratch really worth the risk?

Before moving any further into this process, take the time to assess these fears and face them head-on. Understand that you might not skip into this new chapter worry-free and that hesitancy a natural feeling. Then, challenge yourself to use those doubts as fuel to discover your true passion and embrace the unknown.

What Should I Do After 40?

Do you find yourself turning this question over in your mind throughout the day? It’s common to reassess your current situation when you hit a milestone birthday, such as your 40th.

If you find that you’re unfulfilled professionally, you have the time and ability to make a change. Yet, rather than rush into this process quickly, give yourself time to process how you’re feeling.


You might feel ready to run out of your office the day after your birthday, feeling stifled and ready to break free. Yet, you could change your mind the next week, feeling thankful for the stability it offers once the cake is gone and the decorations are put away until next year.

If a few weeks pass and you’re still feeling antsy, you might be ready to embark on an exciting new career! Rather than making a passionate, breakneck decision, take this new step carefully and considerately.

Is 40 Too Old to Change Careers?

The short answer? Absolutely not! According to the University of Melbourne, the average Australian will have 17 different employers in their lifetime and upskill for five distinct careers. At 40, you are only maybe halfway through your working life, so you have plenty of time ahead of you to change career paths should you wish,” says life insurer Noble Oak.

There’s never an age where you’re “too old” to pursue your passions and discover your true professional calling. While the idea might feel foreign and even a little scary, with the right preparation you can conquer this step and walk boldly into your new role!

The key? It pays to prepare. Next, let’s take a look at the factors to weigh as you contemplate making one of the biggest moves of your life.

Considerations to Take into Account

If you’re looking to begin a new career at 40, there are a few considerations you’ll need to keep in mind. These include personal, financial and professional factors.

Personal Factors

First, let’s discuss the personal side.

How will your anticipated career change affect your family’s current schedule? For instance, if your high-school-aged children are used to you being home every afternoon to help with homework and prepare dinner, what will happen when you’re at the office until 5:00 p.m.?

This is an especially important question if you want to enter a field that has non-traditional hours, such as nursing.

Take into account how this change will affect your time with your children, partner, and friends. Ultimately, a supportive inner circle is what makes this jump both possible and rewarding, so communicate your desires with them. You can often find other ways to adjust your schedule so everyone is happy and you don’t sacrifice the special family time you cherish.

Financial Factors

Next, let’s talk numbers.

Can you afford to leave your current job and take on a different salary?

If you’re unsure, search for industry reports on what someone in your prospective new role can expect to earn. Then, live off that income for a few months. To be even more realistic, live on even less.

To get a clear look at how your career change will affect your finances, take out your budget. If you don’t have one, gather your credit card bills, checkbook ledger or online account statements from the last six months.

Will your new career pay 80% of your current income? If so, you might be able to make up this difference by slimming your spending in a few key places. For instance, you can consider eating at home more or cancelling certain subscription services. On the other hand, if you’re looking at a substantial pay cut, you’ll need to tackle your budget more aggressively.

This might mean changing your mode of transportation or even downsizing your home. Yes, these measures are drastic, but it’s important to consider the realities of your decision. Crunching these numbers as early as possible can help you assess the feasibility of moving forward.

Professional Factors

Finally, there are a few professional considerations to keep in mind.

First, does your new career absolutely require a specialised academic degree? If you want to join the medical or legal field, the answer might be “yes.” In this case, you’ll need to complete those steps before entering the field. If possible, see if you can stay in your current position while you complete your required coursework.

Then, when you have all of your resume requirements in order, you can begin interviewing for your new career. Most professionals find that it’s best to continue working at your current job while you look for another one to maintain a reliable income.

Then, what happens when you land your dream job?

While it might be tempting to take your lunch break and never come back, you’ll need to find a suitable and respectful exit strategy to leave your existing office. Plan ahead and communicate your decision with your boss, making an effort to be as professional as possible.

Starting a Career at 40 With No Degree

Speaking of going back to school, what if you want to pursue a new career but aren’t interested in heading back into the classroom? Not only is tuition skyrocketing, but you might also baulk at the idea of giving up your evenings and weekends to study.

The good news? You can still pursue many new careers without shelling out tens of thousands of dollars and investing years of your life behind a desk.

Check with others in your prospective industry to see if there are any advanced certifications you can obtain that are acceptable in place of a degree. You might also attend intensive industry training sessions or join a professional organisation to learn as much hands-on knowledge as possible before applying.

How Do I Decide on a New Career?

In keeping with the personal, financial and professional factors listed above, there are three main questions to ask yourself when you’re researching prospective new careers. They include:

  • What brings me alive and ignites a passion within me? (Personal)
  • What does this job pay and is the salary realistic with my needs? (Financial)
  • Do I have the required certifications to start? If not, am I willing to pursue them? (Professional)

While it might sound wildly romantic, it might not be feasible to quit your six-figure corner office job in an instant, taking off for Europe instead to pursue a career as a watercolour artist.

When you’re mapping out your next steps, consider how every decision will impact the next. You don’t have to sacrifice your desires or squash your zest, but it is wise to be realistic.

That said, let’s review some of the most sound, rewarding and downright enjoyable careers you can pursue, beginning today.

Best Jobs for Career Changers Over 40

You know you want to get out of your current career, but you aren’t sure what you really want to do.

That’s OK! Take a look at these jobs below, all well-suited for someone 40 years old or above!

1. Teaching

Do you want to change the lives of others and make an impact on a younger generation? Consider joining your local elementary, middle or high school as a teacher or teacher’s assistant.

While there are certain educational requirements you’ll have to complete, most institutions will allow you to join the team as a lateral entry employee. This means that you’ll work on your studies while you earn money as a teacher! You can also teach at a post-secondary level if there’s a certain field of study that interests you.

✔ Check available teaching assistant jobs

2. Accounting

Do you love working with numbers? Businesses across many industries need accounting professionals to help them balance their books, organise their finances and more.

Accounting can be a lucrative and rewarding way to channel your love of maths into a long-term career. As the industry becomes more tech-savvy, there will be more programs and platforms to master, but as long as you team with an experienced mentor, you can learn the ropes in no time.

✔ See available accounting assistant jobs 

3. Engineering

From product development to building construction, there are many places to plug in as an engineer. If you’ve always been drawn to STEM subjects, you’ll find this job both exciting and gratifying.

This is one field in which industry certifications hold enormous weight. As soon as you know which specific type of engineering you’re most interested in, start learning which certs are required to succeed. Then, research how you can study for and obtain them.

✔ Check these trainee engineer jobs

4. Dental Hygiene

As long as you have an associate’s degree, you can find excellent pay as a dental hygienist. In this role, you’ll be responsible for performing simple dental cleanings and other procedures, as well as assisting the dentist. It may also require some front-office work.

✔ See available dental hygiene jobs

5. Veterinary Technician

Want to parlay your love of animals to a fantastic career? Why not consider becoming a veterinary technician? This is a great way to spend as much time as possible with four-legged fur babies while also delivering a valuable service to your community. From tending to injured animals to assisting the veterinarian with certain procedures, you’ll get to do it all.

✔ Check out these animal care jobs or veterinary nurse jobs

6. Massage Therapist

Do you love the idea of providing healing through touch?

Massage therapy is one field that only requires a certificate to get started. As you grow your client list, you can expand your operations accordingly. From stress relief to injury treatment, you can help bring much-needed relief to those looking to relax and unwind.

✔ Explore jobs in massage therapy

7. Personal Trainer

If you’re someone who already spends hours in the gym anyway, you might as well get paid for it! If physical fitness is your passion, you can create a successful career as a personal trainer, helping others meet their health and wellness goals.

There are many online programs and courses dedicated to helping you learn more about this industry. You could go from gym rat to guru in a few days!

✔ Explore personal training opportunities

8. Business Administration

This is a broad field that encompasses a range of positions. From front-desk administrative work to operational leadership, there are many roles you can play as a business administrator.

This is an ideal position for anyone looking to enter the business field. If you’ve never worked in a corporate office or navigated this ecosystem, a career in business administration can serve as a stepping stone to other, higher-up positions.

✔ See available business administration jobs

Websites for Helpful Information

As you begin your research on ways to approach a career change at 40, you’ll likely find that there are tomes of information out there. While most of it is sound, there are some misinformed articles that can lead you astray and discourage your efforts.

When you’re looking for helpful, reliable information, the following resources are our recommended go-to tools.

Retraining Programs

There are many resources in Australia designed to help adult learners change careers or go back to work.

Start by searching for a variety of full-time and part-time courses, including fully accredited, industry-recognised certifications, to help you learn the ropes in a new field. You can also find distance learning courses at Open University, including a full catalogue of Free Learning courses that won’t cost you a dime.

Lifelong Learning Opportunities for Certification

When you’re looking for lifelong learning opportunities, your local TAFE or university is a treasure trove of resources. Here, you can take online or in-person courses to pursue the certifications of your choice.

You can also take online professional development courses. One such site to check out is edX, which provides professional certification courses in a variety of fields, from architecture to social sciences.

Working with a Career Coach

Looking for professional support as you navigate these next steps?

Read more about expert career coaching. We’ll help you find the job of your dreams by helping you understand your career goals and bring them to fruition.

Companies That Support Retraining

Instead of spinning your wheels and wasting your time on companies that don’t support re-training, it’s best to fine-tune your search toward those that do. We make it easy to do so with our custom search tool.

Here, you can search our entire list of job openings for those that include the word “retrain.” Take a look to get started!

Jobs That Welcome a Career Change

In a similar vein, you can also narrow our search listings by looking for companies that express a willingness to embrace your career change. In this case, you’ll simply swap the keyword “retrain” for “change career.” These results are plentiful and encouraging!

Conquer Your Career Change With Confidence

Searching for a new job can be scary and overwhelming, whether you’re a 21-year-old college graduate or a seasoned professional looking to initiate a career change at 40.

That’s why we’re here to make the process as easy and enjoyable as possible.

We’ve designed a comprehensive job search portal that allows you to scan more than one million jobs to find the one of your dreams. We’ll also provide you with salary statistics so you can get a realistic look at your earning potential in the field.

One way to make sure you’re ready to tackle this journey? Upload your CV with us today! In addition to scanning it for common errors, we’ll also provide you with resources to inspire your next career move.

You’re one step away from charting your next great course, so let’s take it together.