How to make a career change at 50 for great opportunities

New analysis from Statistics Canada shows that retirement is changing and that more than half of workers aged 55 and older return to the workforce. Of Canadians that actually exited a long term job between the age of 55 and 59, 60% of them were re-employed within the next 10 years, while those age 60-64 had 42% re-employment in the same year. In this article we will examine exactly what the best jobs for people over 50 are.

How to make a career change at 50 for great opportunities

According to a TD Economics report for 2012 Canadians 60 years and over have accounted for about one third of all net job gains since July 2009. Older Canadians are becoming an increasingly important part of the labour market. Companies, such as Merck Frosst Canada, AltaGas Limited, and Bethany Care Society are just some examples of Canadian companies that recognize the benefits of their experience and actively recruit older workers.

There are many reasons that older Canadians return to and stay in the workforce. HRSD Canada estimates that approximately one third of all work arrangements are now “non-standard” which includes part-time and temporary work, and self-employment. These types of work arrangements are perfectly suited to those older workers as they move towards their retirement years. This type of employment is often referred to as bridge employment.

With all this being said what kinds of jobs are being filled? And what are the best jobs for people over 50? Workhoppers recently reviewed the statistics and trends report published by HRSDC (COPS) Job openings 2011-2020, looking for openings in Canada’s fastest growing industries that do not require years of education. Many of these are flexible positions and available on a part time or temporary basis.

Here are the best jobs over 50:

In the administrative and Regulatory Occupations

With the highest number of job openings estimated at 204,093, jobs in this group that do not require too much training: Executive assistants, property administrators, purchasing agents, court officers (successful completion of physical fitness test required), conference and event planners. You do not need a special degree to be hired for these jobs but it helps if you are a great multitasker.

Motor Vehicle and transit drivers : (projected job openings 177,017)

Maybe you do not know how to drive a 6 wheeler. But driving a taxi, becoming a chauffeur, or doing deliveries are possible options.

Paralegals, social services workers , etc: (Projected job openings 171,151)

This category includes early childhood educators and assistants, paralegal and related occupations, other instructors. Working with children requires a lot of patience and energy but can be very rewarding. Working in a law office is for those who are detail oriented. Both options require on the job training and special short term courses. Perhaps you could consider being an instructor, teaching others what you have learned throughout your career.

Assisting occupations in Health services : (Projected job openings 165,027):

Position as a blood donor clinic assistant, optometrist assistant, or therapist assistant may be right for you. You do not necessarily need formal training but requirements for this type of work include on the job training, health care courses or short term college programs.

Finance & insurance clerks : (Projected job openings 138,984):

This field includes bank clerk or real estate clerk. You need to be fastidious as you will be verifying, processing and compiling information/ paperwork. Requirements may include a business diploma, on the job training and short term courses

The article is the Canadian perspective on an article, written by Workhoppers, that originally appeared in Next Avenue , Forbes Business and The Huffington Post; “The Best Employers and Jobs for Workers Over 50”. This is the Canadian perspective of the best jobs for people over 50.

Linda Singer is the Co-founder at Workhoppers, an on-line matching site where talented individuals find flexible work and companies easily get local help on demand.

With half of all American women ages 50 and above experiencing long-term unemployment, the chances of this group embarking on new careers might seem bleak. Compounding the job outlook problem for women over age 50 is that hiring managers don’t always understand the value of an older woman’s experience.

Even though finding a new or second career may have its challenges, several fields are wide open when it comes to careers for older women, and we’ve compiled a list of some of the best jobs for women over 50 below.

Key Takeaways

  • Unemployed women older than age 50 tend to experience higher rates of unemployment than average.
  • Getting hired as an older person can be difficult, especially with gaps in your resume, but certain careers lend themselves well to this demographic.
  • Some of the best jobs for women over 50 years old are in real estate, tutoring, and in the financial sector.
  • Healthcare as well as jobs that highlight personal relationships and so-called soft skills are careers for 50-year-olds that women can excel in.

1. Real Estate Agent

The median age of a real estate agent is 54, and more than 60% of people pursuing real estate as a full- or part-time career are women. Real estate licenses are fairly inexpensive to acquire, as budget-friendly real estate courses can be completed online, and licensing exam fees typically cost less than $500.

New licensees have a wide range of brokerage firms from which to choose, depending on their work styles. Salaries vary since real estate agents earn more in high-population areas and when dealing exclusively with high-net-worth clients.

2. Financial Advisor

Americans of all ages want to know how best to grow their wealth over the long-term, and that is where financial advisors fill a need. Women interested in this fast-growing career must have degrees in finance, as well as significant finance experience, which comes with age.

Sales and customer service experience also helps financial advisors gain and retain clients. About one-fifth of financial advisors are self-employed. This option is a significant benefit for women who wish to work from a home office and have flexible hours.

3. Nurse

The nursing profession continues to grow at a pace much faster than all other professions, making this female-dominated career a viable and potentially lucrative option for women over age 50.

Prospective nurses of all ages can earn their registered nurse (RN) licenses through a local community college or hospital-run programs and be on the job earning competitive wages in approximately two years. The profession also offers women numerous opportunities for promotions and salary increases when they earn advanced certifications and degrees, such as a Bachelor or Master of Science in nursing, or a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

By 2026, employment of nurse practitioners is expected to grow five times faster than the average of all other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

4. Occupational Therapist

The occupational therapy field is another female-dominated health profession, experiencing lightning-fast growth as baby boomers and disabled persons are living longer healthier lives and in need of therapy to improve their quality of life.

Occupational therapists must have a master’s degree in the field, but women over age 50 interested in entering the even-faster-growing field of occupational therapy assistance can become job ready with an associate’s degree in occupational therapy from an accredited community college.

5. Personal Trainer

The diversity of people seeking fitness training, including baby boomers, makes it possible for women over age 50 to pursue careers as personal trainers. Older women with backgrounds in sports and fitness can get jobs quickly with a personal trainer’s certificate, but some people also pursue fitness training credentials to get fit and make a living sharing their journey to fitness with others. Personal trainers can be entrepreneurs and work with their own clients or work for corporations, such as fitness centers, health care institutions, and wellness companies.

6. Curriculum Developer

Women with significant experience in education or corporate training can pursue careers as curriculum developers. The proliferation of online learning makes it possible for curriculum developers to work for corporations as employees or pursue their careers on a freelance basis. Curriculum developers typically have master’s degrees and gain clients and jobs on the strength of their portfolios.

7. Freelance Writer

Freelance writers can choose their clients and work as much or little as they wish to control their earnings. Freelance writers have a selection of specialization options, such as writing search engine optimized content, marketing collateral, newspaper and magazine articles, and educational materials. Women over age 50 who enjoy writing can take advantage of the numerous perks of being a freelance writer, the most significant of which is having the ability to earn income while traveling.

8. Tutor

Former licensed teachers and college professors have the best chance of having successful careers as tutors. Some tutors make money by signing up with online tutoring services and helping students online. Others work with private clients one-on-one in their homes.

Tutors with extensive knowledge of in-demand subjects, such as mathematics, the sciences, and foreign languages, as well as standardized test preparation expertise, have the best chances of earning competitive wages.

9. Counselor

The need for counselors and therapists continues to grow at a rapid pace as more public and community institutions offer these services to community members. Women over age 50 interested in careers as counselors or therapists should earn master’s degrees in their area of specialization, such as substance abuse, marriage and family, and children. They also need to pass a licensing exam to have a career in this profession.

10. Personal Chef

A personal chef is a financially lucrative career for women over age 50 that marries top-notch cooking skills and house calls. Personal chefs can market their services and gain clients to serve regularly. Some personal chefs have grown their careers by writing and marketing cookbooks, teaching cooking classes, and catering.

How to make a career change at 50 for great opportunities

If you want to change careers in your 50s or 60, it’ll be useful to know what Dawn Graham suggests. The author of the new book Switchers, Graham is director of career management for the Executive MBA Program at The Wharton School and host of Sirius XM Radio’s weekly call-in show, Career Talk. She’s also a career coach, a psychologist and a former corporate recruiter.

I recently interviewed Graham for her advice on how to change careers and, as she says, “seize success.” Highlights:

Next Avenue: What’s your top piece of advice to people in their 50s or 60s who are thinking about changing careers if they want to seize success?

Dawn Graham: You have to be very clear on your path. A lot of people know they don’t want to do what they used to do, but they’re less clear about where they want to go. When you don’t have a plan, you come across to contacts and interviewers as ‘this is a whim,’ or as not having as structured a plan as they would like to see.

Also on Forbes:

What’s a traditional job-seeking strategy to avoid when changing careers?

The traditional process is you see job posts online and you put together a resumé and apply with the expectation that you’ll get called for an interview and eventually land a job. The challenge for a job switcher is that employers’ [computerized Applicant Tracking System] platforms are biased toward traditional candidates and are looking for the right keywords and experience in a given field.

So how do you get around this?

Networking. It really helps job switchers get past the bias in the hiring process. Employers tend to hire the same types of people and overlook switchers who are motivated to make a career change. But networking helps introduce you to hiring managers.

How can a prospective job switcher network well?

As an introvert myself, I’m not a natural networker. But every point in the day you have an opportunity to meet new people or deepen a relationship. Whether you reach out on LinkedIn to people you met at a conference or sit with people from a different department at lunch, you can make this a regular part of your day-to-day.

People start networking with people they know; that’s the most comfortable strategy. But we forget that those people have ‘second-level contacts’ who may not know you. And chances are, those are the people who will lead you to your best opportunities. So step one is to get the people you know to understand what you want to do and share that with their second-level contacts.

You say there are three types of career switches. Can you talk about each?

The first is an industry switch. It’s moderately challenging. It’s the kind of switch where you don’t have to change your functional skills, but you have no experience in the industry you want to work in.

The second is a functional switch, and it’s very challenging. You don’t have the functional skills, but you do have industry experience. To do this, you will probably stay within the same industry. Maybe you can stay at the same company if you have a strong track record there. If not, it’s a little more difficult as a search, because you have to convince a new company to take a chance on you.

The third type is a double switcher where you’re trying to make a switch both in function and in industry. It’s extremely challenging. You’re asking an employer to take a big risk on you.

Any advice for making a double switch in your 50s or 60s?

The benefit of being in your 50s or 60s is you have a robust network that you may not have cultivated from past jobs or from your alma mater or from volunteer organizations where you’ve worked. Warm up your dormant ties with people who you had a great relationship with once. They know you’re a great person and hiring managers want great people.

You suggest people do what you call a ‘stepping stone switch.’ What’s that?

It means you don’t do a big switch all at once. Maybe you gain some functional skills to do a switch within your company or industry. And after two years, you try to switch industries. The benefit of doing this is if you’re in a company and are a stellar performer, it can be easier to make a functional switch there. They may be more willing to train you.

Also, you can offer to create an experiment at your company. A lot of managers are willing to be flexible if it’s a reversible decision. You can say: ‘I’d like to help the marketing team for three months and we can see how it goes.’

You say that getting a degree or certification isn’t a ‘magic bullet’ for switching careers. Why?

A lot of people try to get a degree or certification and they think this will reinvent them. But hirers know that what happens in a classroom is often different than what happens in a job. Experience always trumps school. That’s not to say that higher education can’t be a great way to network, and if it has an internship or a project in the workplace with real-world experience, that can be a great thing. Unfortunately, a lot of advanced degrees are just papers and tests.

What are the best ways to use social media to switch careers?

Take one or two tools — like LinkedIn and maybe Facebook or Twitter — and build your personal brand with them. Follow thought leaders and create your own content. You might want to get into groups on those social media platforms. You want to be immersed in communities where you’re going, so you can demonstrate that you are really looking to make a switch.

How long will it take to make a career switch?

It depends on how much you’re willing to sacrifice or trade off to get where you want to be. If you’re not willing to sacrifice much or make trade-offs, it may take you a really long time. But if you’re willing to trade off geography or pay, that will help you get where you want to be.

How should someone use a career coach to make a career switch?

I think if you’re going to make a major switch, it’s a good idea to get a coach involved at the beginning. A coach can help you understand hiring strategies and biases against career switchers in the hiring system.

How to make a career change at 50 for great opportunities

Image by Hilary Allison © The Balance 2019

Interested in a new career? People seek to change careers for many different reasons. Your career goals or values may have changed; you may have discovered new interests that you would like to incorporate into your job, you may wish to make more money, or have more flexible hours, just to name a few.

Before you decide, it is important to take the time to evaluate your present situation, to explore career options, to decide if your career needs making over, and to choose a career that will be more satisfying for you.

Why People Change Careers

There are many different reasons why people want to change careers. Of course, it’s a personal decision with many factors involved. Joblist’s Midlife Career Crisis survey reports on the top five reasons people change careers:  

  • Better Pay: 47%
  • Too Stressful: 39%
  • Better Work-Life Balance: 37%
  • Wanted a New Challenge: 25%
  • No Longer Passionate About Field: 23%

The Benefits of a Career Change

The Joblist survey reports that most people were happier after they made the change:  

  • Happier: 77%
  • More satisfied: 75%
  • More fulfilled: 69%
  • Less stressed: 65%

In addition, the people who change careers were making more money. Survey respondents who changed careers for better pay earned an additional $10,800 annually compared to their previous positions.

10 Steps to a Successful Career Change

Review these tips for assessing your interests, exploring options, evaluating alternative career paths, and making the move to a new career.

  1. Evaluate your current job satisfaction. Keep a journal of your daily reactions to your job situation and look for recurring themes. Which aspects of your current job do you like and dislike? Are your dissatisfactions related to the content of your work, your company culture or the people with whom you work? While you’re doing this, there are some things you can do at your current job to help you prepare to move on when it’s time for a change.
  2. Assess your interests, values, and skills. Review past successful roles, volunteer work, projects and jobs to identify preferred activities and skills. Determine whether your core values and skills are addressed through your current career. There are free online tools you can use to help assess career alternatives.
  3. Consider alternative careers. Brainstorm ideas for career alternatives by researching career options, and discussing your core values and skills with friends, family, and networking contacts. If you’re having difficulty coming up with ideas, consider meeting with a career counselor for professional advice.
  4. Check out job options. Conduct a preliminary comparative evaluation of several fields to identify a few targets for in-depth research. You can find a wealth of information online simply by Googling the jobs that interest you.
  5. Get personal. Find out as much as much as you can about those fields and reach out to personal contacts in those sectors for informational interviews. A good source of contacts for informational interviewers is your college alumni career network. LinkedIn is another great resource for finding contacts in specific career fields of interest.
  6. Set up a job shadow (or two). Shadow professionals in fields of primary interest to observe work first hand. Spend anywhere from a few hours to a few days job shadowing people who have jobs that interest you. Your college career office is a good place to find alumni volunteers who are willing to host job shadowers. Here’s more information on job shadowing and how it works.
  7. Try it out. Identify volunteer and freelance activities related to your target field to test your interest e.g. if you are thinking of publishing as a career, try editing the PTA newsletter. If you’re interested in working with animals, volunteer at your local shelter.
  8. Take a class. Investigate educational opportunities that would bridge your background to your new field. Consider taking an evening course at a local college or an online course. Spend some time at one day or weekend seminars. Contact professional groups in your target field for suggestions.
  9. Upgrade your skills. Look for ways to develop new skills in your current job which would pave the way for a change e.g. offer to write a grant proposal if grant writing is valued in your new field. If your company offers in-house training, sign up for as many classes as you can. There are ways you can position yourself for a career change without having to go back to school.
  10. Consider a new job in the same industry. Consider alternative roles within your current industry which would utilize the industry knowledge you already have e.g. If you are a store manager for a large retail chain and have grown tired of the evening and weekend hours, consider a move to corporate recruiting within the retail industry. Or if you are a programmer who doesn’t want to program, consider technical sales or project management.

Write a Career Change Resume and Cover Letter

When you’re ready to start applying for jobs in your new industry, be sure to write a cover letter that reflects your aspirations, as well a resume that is refocus based on your new goals. Here are tips for writing a powerful career change resume and a sample career change cover letter with writing advice.

When you eventually reach the age of 50, two things can easily happen to your career: You get the itch to try your hand at a different type of work that you’ve always dreamed of, or you find yourself being nudged (or forced) into a new line of work by an employer looking for new blood.

Either way, changing careers in midlife is exciting but also frightening. I went through it more than 10 years ago, and luckily it worked out well for me—but it wasn’t easy. Here are a few things I learned along the way that may help you decide whether to pull the trigger and change careers at midlife, or to stick with what you’ve got. Either option can be the right one; it depends on your situation.

Starting a new career after the age of 50 can be exciting but also frightening.

1. Make sure you have more than just “passion”

You’ll hear it said that it takes passion to succeed in a career. This is only partly true; it also takes talent and hard work. Before you dive into a new career because you’re passionate about it, consider your degree of talent dispassionately. I love to sing, but if you ever hear me “execute” a song, you’ll know there’s no money to be made by me in that field!

Also, consider your willingness and ability to work hard. Starting a new career takes the energy of a 20-something. Do you have it? Just as important, do you want to work that hard? Many 50-somethings have a lot of stuff going on in their lives—family, travel, hobbies. You may have to give up some (or even a lot) of your quality time to do the drudge work of setting up a new business or learning a new set of skills.

Bottom line on passion: A successful career change requires a sober, practical business assessment as much as it does a heart full of passion.

2. Consider your financial position with great care

If you can change careers and start doing new work that you love, while still making the same or higher salary, well … you probably don’t need to read this article. Usually, however, a career change involves taking a pay cut and losing benefits. Can you afford that? Do you want the deal with the stress of holding to a tight budget for an unknown period of time?

As you get older, health insurance gets to be a bigger worry than salary. Insurance is expensive, and if you’re going from a company plan to self-insurance, get ready to take on the red tape and hassles of processing claims. It’s no fun.

In addition, if you have dependents, you’ve got to consider how an abrupt change in finances could affect them, both materially and emotionally. This can be a major consideration—maybe the major consideration—if your finances put your home, your family’s healthcare coverage, or your children’s college tuition in jeopardy.

Many people grossly underestimate the cost of retirement; what you earn or don’t earn from the age of 50 to 65 is going to have a major impact on what you can afford to do in your golden years. If you’ve built a war chest of cash and ample liquid assets to help smooth out your finances during your career change, you’re in a great position. On the other hand, if you have to tap into your 401(k), take on new debt, or sell non-liquid assets to finance the career change, you may be following today’s dream into tomorrow’s nightmare.

Bottom line on finances: Go over your financial strategy with a trusted, competent, professional financial advisor well before pulling the trigger.

Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:

3. Have a contingency plan

Ramping up a new career takes time, but how much time is anybody’s guess. Even with a carefully thought-out business plan or assurances from a new employer, anything can happen. If things don’t work out, can you get back on your original career track? If you’re going to start a business, do you think you could sell it if you fall short of your goals?

Changing careers is bound to be stressful in one way or another. However, trying to escape a career change five years later, with no plan, will be a hundred times more stressful.

Bottom line on contingency planning: A well-thought-out plan will help you succeed in your career change by reducing uncertainty.

4. Examine your motivation

As we age, the quality and meaningfulness of our work becomes more important. If you are truly stuck in a job you dislike, this will weigh heavily on you mentally, emotionally, and possibly even physically. Not good! This is a tough situation to be in, because even if you’re not in a perfect position financially to change careers, you may be better off psychologically (and be a better spouse or parent) by taking the financial hit and getting into work you love.

Sometimes, though, the itch to change careers is a result of ­­the “grass is greener” syndrome. Perhaps decades of office politics have worn you down, but keep in mind that office politics will likely crop up in every company. And while escaping office politics to become an entrepreneur may seem tempting, understand that as an entrepreneur you will face mentally challenging issues of other kinds. Every career has its negatives.

Bottom line on motivation: Change when you’ve found something you love, not when you’re experiencing something you want to escape.

50 is a great time to go for it

Even though I’ve brought up a lot of potential negatives, I only do so in the hope of challenging you to consider all the variables. But to end on a high note, I believe that 50-something is a terrific time to take the plunge into a new career. You’ve still got plenty of energy, and the wisdom and experience you’ve acquired make you a valuable asset; in fact, you may be pleasantly surprised by how much value you have. You also have the emotional maturity to weather storms without letting them knock you down, and also to celebrate victories without sending your head into the clouds. These are all big assets, and ones that don’t appear on balance sheets.

Bottom line: Don’t jump into a career change impulsively—but, more important, don’t sell yourself short.

With half of all American women ages 50 and above experiencing long-term unemployment, the chances of this group embarking on new careers might seem bleak. Compounding the job outlook problem for women over age 50 is that hiring managers don’t always understand the value of an older woman’s experience.

Even though finding a new or second career may have its challenges, several fields are wide open when it comes to careers for older women, and we’ve compiled a list of some of the best jobs for women over 50 below.

Key Takeaways

  • Unemployed women older than age 50 tend to experience higher rates of unemployment than average.
  • Getting hired as an older person can be difficult, especially with gaps in your resume, but certain careers lend themselves well to this demographic.
  • Some of the best jobs for women over 50 years old are in real estate, tutoring, and in the financial sector.
  • Healthcare as well as jobs that highlight personal relationships and so-called soft skills are careers for 50-year-olds that women can excel in.

1. Real Estate Agent

The median age of a real estate agent is 54, and more than 60% of people pursuing real estate as a full- or part-time career are women. Real estate licenses are fairly inexpensive to acquire, as budget-friendly real estate courses can be completed online, and licensing exam fees typically cost less than $500.

New licensees have a wide range of brokerage firms from which to choose, depending on their work styles. Salaries vary since real estate agents earn more in high-population areas and when dealing exclusively with high-net-worth clients.

2. Financial Advisor

Americans of all ages want to know how best to grow their wealth over the long-term, and that is where financial advisors fill a need. Women interested in this fast-growing career must have degrees in finance, as well as significant finance experience, which comes with age.

Sales and customer service experience also helps financial advisors gain and retain clients. About one-fifth of financial advisors are self-employed. This option is a significant benefit for women who wish to work from a home office and have flexible hours.

3. Nurse

The nursing profession continues to grow at a pace much faster than all other professions, making this female-dominated career a viable and potentially lucrative option for women over age 50.

Prospective nurses of all ages can earn their registered nurse (RN) licenses through a local community college or hospital-run programs and be on the job earning competitive wages in approximately two years. The profession also offers women numerous opportunities for promotions and salary increases when they earn advanced certifications and degrees, such as a Bachelor or Master of Science in nursing, or a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

By 2026, employment of nurse practitioners is expected to grow five times faster than the average of all other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

4. Occupational Therapist

The occupational therapy field is another female-dominated health profession, experiencing lightning-fast growth as baby boomers and disabled persons are living longer healthier lives and in need of therapy to improve their quality of life.

Occupational therapists must have a master’s degree in the field, but women over age 50 interested in entering the even-faster-growing field of occupational therapy assistance can become job ready with an associate’s degree in occupational therapy from an accredited community college.

5. Personal Trainer

The diversity of people seeking fitness training, including baby boomers, makes it possible for women over age 50 to pursue careers as personal trainers. Older women with backgrounds in sports and fitness can get jobs quickly with a personal trainer’s certificate, but some people also pursue fitness training credentials to get fit and make a living sharing their journey to fitness with others. Personal trainers can be entrepreneurs and work with their own clients or work for corporations, such as fitness centers, health care institutions, and wellness companies.

6. Curriculum Developer

Women with significant experience in education or corporate training can pursue careers as curriculum developers. The proliferation of online learning makes it possible for curriculum developers to work for corporations as employees or pursue their careers on a freelance basis. Curriculum developers typically have master’s degrees and gain clients and jobs on the strength of their portfolios.

7. Freelance Writer

Freelance writers can choose their clients and work as much or little as they wish to control their earnings. Freelance writers have a selection of specialization options, such as writing search engine optimized content, marketing collateral, newspaper and magazine articles, and educational materials. Women over age 50 who enjoy writing can take advantage of the numerous perks of being a freelance writer, the most significant of which is having the ability to earn income while traveling.

8. Tutor

Former licensed teachers and college professors have the best chance of having successful careers as tutors. Some tutors make money by signing up with online tutoring services and helping students online. Others work with private clients one-on-one in their homes.

Tutors with extensive knowledge of in-demand subjects, such as mathematics, the sciences, and foreign languages, as well as standardized test preparation expertise, have the best chances of earning competitive wages.

9. Counselor

The need for counselors and therapists continues to grow at a rapid pace as more public and community institutions offer these services to community members. Women over age 50 interested in careers as counselors or therapists should earn master’s degrees in their area of specialization, such as substance abuse, marriage and family, and children. They also need to pass a licensing exam to have a career in this profession.

10. Personal Chef

A personal chef is a financially lucrative career for women over age 50 that marries top-notch cooking skills and house calls. Personal chefs can market their services and gain clients to serve regularly. Some personal chefs have grown their careers by writing and marketing cookbooks, teaching cooking classes, and catering.

Throughout our careers, we may find ourselves in a role that takes more from us than it gives in terms of money, happiness, or energy–sometimes, it’s all three.

At first, waning job satisfaction might not be noticeable, clouded by day-to-day demands and expectations. But at some point, though, you become aware that you’re surviving–not thriving–at work.

Maybe you no longer believe in the mission or identify with your co-workers. Your enthusiasm dwindles.

Regardless of what causes the realization, you know one thing for certain: A change is necessary. Maybe it’s time for a new position. It’s more likely, however, that you’re ready for an entirely new career.

But finding a new job, let alone a dream job, can be tricky. For example, making time to interview is tough when you’re balancing a heavy workload or traveling all the time. Not to mention, changing careers can be hard when you’re facing burnout brought on by your current position.

It’s a paradox many career changers face: How do you tackle a major transition when your time is nil and your energy levels are already low?

This dilemma’s often accompanied by the temptation to opt for a quick solution: find a position in the same field at a different company. While these options are attractive in the moment, you’ve got to resist the urge to skip over the important work called self-evaluation. Unless you stop and take an honest look at what’s causing your unhappiness, you’re likely to repeat history wherever you go.

However, by taking small steps and tending to your emotional well-being throughout the process, you can make a successful transition.

Shore Up Your Emotional Reserves

If your job’s drained you to the point of burnout, lifting yourself out of your career rut and back into a positive place is the first task at hand.

Like other emotional stressors, burnout responds to reframing. Shifting into a growth mindset helps you see possibilities where there once were only dead ends.

When the going gets tough, and you doubt your ability to manage a career change amidst a daunting workload, try taking the perspective of a good mentor. What advice would you give to another overworked person in your shoes? How would you advise a burnt-out friend?

The best answers often come from within and it’s likely you already know where to start: Give yourself permission to take your time. Big decisions, such as leaving a job or deciding to strike out on your own can and should be thoughtful and deliberate. Assure yourself that you can and will take action, and that once you do, things will get better.

Ask Yourself the Important Questions

It’s all too easy to blow through life on auto-pilot, never spending time honestly exploring what you really want in a career. But people don’t succeed by migrating to a particular industry or job. They thrive by exploring their strengths, motivations, likes, and dislikes.

To ensure that you forge ahead based on a thoughtful appraisal (rather than blindly following what you think others say you “should” be doing) employ an honest self-evaluation. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What would I rather be investing my time and energy in?
  • What is my personal mission?
  • What are my top three values?
  • What pivotal experiences have made me who am I today?
  • What obstacles stand in the way of me making a career change?
  • What strengths can I draw on during my transition?

These big, open-ended questions are specifically designed to provoke creative thinking and help you get in touch with the roots of your personal preferences and natural drives. You won’t arrive at the answers overnight, but the more you think about them, the more you’ll gain the clarity you need to get unstuck and move forward with your transition.

Stop Second-Guessing Yourself

Often, when you’re forced to make a decision that pushes you beyond your comfort zone, fear rears its head. You may worry about the future or become preoccupied with whether you’re making the right decision. At times, you’ll probably face self-doubt and wonder whether things at work are really as bad as you’re making them out to be.

This is an example of a thought trap known as the sunk-cost bias. In short, this is simply our innate loss aversion popping up. We mistakenly rationalize that because so much has been invested in our current path, to change course now would be a waste. But the truth is, the cost of doing nothing–of staying in a job that depletes you–is much higher. Studies show that sticking it out despite your unhappiness leads to emotional exhaustion, illness, and burnout.

Instead of dwelling on what you’ll lose, imagine a career that makes you feel challenged, happy, and fulfilled. If that vision looks, feels, and sounds better, shift your efforts away from focusing on sunk costs and look toward your new trajectory.

Act, Don’t Intellectualize

While the process of clarifying your values and your strengths is important, these discoveries are useless without follow through. Action is the antidote to self-doubt.

Rather than overthinking what you should do to pursue your passion, look for low-risk, micro-learning opportunities that you can accomplish in the few spare hours that you do have. You can start as small as joining a Twitter chat hosted by an organization you’re interested in or committing to sending one email a week to a someone whose career path you admire. Maybe, if you can find the time, you volunteer on the weekends to test drive a new role.

This experimental approach helps you take incremental steps toward a career change in little time without a ton of effort. In the process, you may make connections with inroads to your dream job, short-cutting the traditional (read: long and draining) interview process. You’ll also gain a better sense of answers to questions like: Do I enjoy this work? Do I want to pursue this path further? What other opportunities am I curious about?

I won’t kid you and say that discovering your career happiness formula–the trifecta of finding what you’re good at, what you find meaningful, and what gets you paid–happens overnight. Or that it’s simple and easy, especially when you’re already under a lot of stress.

As long as you’re vigilant about maintaining healthy boundaries and are ruthless with self-care, you can make it through this transition time. In fact, you may find that as your strengths come into alignment with your work, you’ll gain energy and momentum along the way. That’s the difference between a job that drains you and one that lights you up.

How to make a career change at 50 for great opportunities

Related

  • How to Change Careers After 50
  • Jobs to Consider When Coming Out of Retirement
  • What Jobs Are Available If a Teacher Loses Her Job?
  • What to Do When You Lose a High Paying Job & Now Make Minimum Wage
  • How Do I Work Part-Time After Retirement?

While many people are just hitting their professional strides at 50, they may find themselves in need of a mid-career change due to downsizing, layoffs or even just a change of heart and a desire to pursue a new line of work. Others may want to roll into semi-retirement, continuing to utilize their skills and talents while simultaneously scaling back to enjoy more of life. Whatever the motivator, there are a wealth of opportunities for the 50-plus crowd to pursue.

Consulting Work

At 50, you’ve likely amassed a wide range of professional capabilities that can be parlayed into consulting work. This type of work can often be found with previous employers who are familiar with your knowledge and work ethic. You can also join chambers of commerce, rotary clubs and professional networking organizations to spread the word about your area of expertise and your availability. A nicely designed website with your credentials, background and specialized skill sets can aid in this effort.

Teaching

Utilize your knowledge of a particular industry by becoming a teacher, instructor or professor. This could mean substitute teaching, becoming an adjunct professor, taking on an instruction role at a technical or certification training center or community college, or teaching continuing education classes at a local college. You may also find rewarding work as a corporate training consultant who teaches best practices in your industry.

Freelancing

If you’re interested in scaling back but not retiring, freelance work allows you to take on select projects as your time and interest allow. You may attract clients through former colleagues, networking groups or by joining an online freelance job lead community that allows you to bid on projects. Use care to track income and expenses, particularly if you utilize a home office, as these can help you make an accurate accounting come tax filing season.

Starting Fresh

At 50, you still have plenty of time to launch into an entirely new career. Is there something new you want to pursue? Many of the skills you acquired in previous professional roles may be transferable to a new position. You may also look into going back to school, if not for a new degree, for a certificate program or continuing education in a field that interests you. Online and night school for working adults can make the process easier.

Keep retirement planning and healthcare needs in mind when making a career change at 50. Consider meeting with a financial planner to examine your options before making a big change.

In some cases, people find they want to change jobs after spending significant time in one career. These individuals may seek a new professional path that aligns better with their core values or hobbies. Finding a different job may help you feel happier and more fulfilled, and it is possible to change careers in midlife successfully. In this article, we provide tips for starting a midlife career change and consider several career change options.

Types of mid-career changes

Here are three possible directions you could take while making a mid-career change:

Looking for a new job in the same industry

This can be the simplest transition to make. Make sure to research organizations’ cultures and job requirements to consider if the companies offer what you are looking for.

Searching for a new job in a different industry

You may be able to find career options that utilize skills you already possess but that you can apply in new ways.

Preparing to make a complete transition

For example, you may be planning to start a new business. In some cases, people may hope to choose a career that allows more flexibility or perks like travel.

Tips for a successful mid-career change

Try these tips to help you change careers successfully:

Research

Spend some time researching what jobs are available, their requirements, how much they pay, what opportunities for growth exist and what steps you’ll need to take to get one. You could also attend informational interviews to take the opportunity to find out more about different positions, companies and industries.

Do a skills assessment

Assess your own talents and consider any occupations where you can best utilize those skills. You can find multiple types of skills assessments online, for example, personality or occupational themes tests. If you decide to acquire new skills, determine how you can do so. Some careers only require months of training and you may choose to seek certifications, degrees or training sessions.

Take advantage of your network

It may be helpful to talk to other people directly to get their perspective on career change options. Get input from friends, family and coworkers. Talk to people in different positions and industries. In some cases, the people you talk to might even be able to point you to specific opportunities.

You might find that you can get some advice within the company you are currently working for. You might even find that you do not need to leave the company. Determine if there is a position in that company you would like to transition to. You might need to talk to HR and people in other departments.

Review your resume

You will need an updated resume to begin applying for new careers. Make sure your resume includes your transferable skills and keywords from job descriptions.

Midlife career change options

Consider the following jobs in your search for a new career, as they draw on skills that can translate well from many professional backgrounds or require knowledge rather than training:

1. Fundraiser

If you are an outgoing person, love a particular cause, have some experience fundraising or possess social media, this might be the right job for you. You will likely have a team to work with, so leadership skills are a must.

National average salary: $14.72 per hour

Primary duties: A fundraiser is responsible for reaching out to members of the community, setting fundraising goals and organizing events to raise money for a particular cause. This job entails working with spreadsheets, taking calls, talking directly to people and reaching out via social media.

2. Teacher

Teaching is another job in which people can use their knowledge and people skills. People who already possess a bachelor’s degree may only require completing a training and certification program. Teachers come from various backgrounds.

National average salary: $16.79 per hour

Primary duties: Teachers are responsible for creating lesson plans for classes, interacting with students, their parents and other faculty, grading papers and preparing students for test-taking.

3. Human resources recruiter

If you know what it takes to succeed in a certain industry and you are sociable, consider becoming an HR recruiter. You might find such a position in the company you currently work for.

National average salary: $50,254

Primary duties: HR Recruiters are responsible for attracting, screening and selecting candidates for various positions. Once a recruiter selects candidates, they may also help onboard the new hire. This job requires a high degree of extraversion, persuasiveness and writing aptitude since you will likely be writing the descriptions for open positions.

4. Consultant

This is another position where you may be able to use your experience, knowledge and acquired skills to your advantage.*

National average salary: $78,320

Primary duties: Depending on the industry, a consultant will be responsible for acting as a contact between company management and clients or customers. Consultants often troubleshoot financial issues within the company and present reports.

5. Software engineer

Some companies only require that you have acquired the skill needed to do the work. This position often awards a high salary.

National average salary: $106,598 per year

Primary duties: A software engineer is responsible for writing and editing code for products or applications offered by certain companies. This job involves taking in feedback from management and end-users to provide an optimal user experience.