Starting a New Career at 50: Tips and Job Ideas for Making a Midlife Career Change

Dayton Uttinger  | 

Retirement may be creeping closer and closer, but that doesn’t mean that it’s too late to switch careers. A career change at 50 might seem drastic, but what’s worse: taking a risk later in life, or counting down the years until retirement at a miserable job?

When you are in your 50s, you still have several years before you can collect Social Security. Don’t spend that time in an unfilling career. You still have time to change jobs, employers, or even professions. Lifelong jobs are rare these days, so don’t get stuck prioritizing job security above all else. If changing your career is your ticket to happiness, breathe easier. It’s not too late.

The Best Jobs to Consider After 50

There are plenty of jobs you can do from home if you’ve already retired, but if you’re looking for a career to keep you busy, or even a second career you can continue well into retirement, consider some of these:

Personal Financial Advisor

If you’re good with numbers, then advising people on their investments — and potentially earning around $90,000 a year — might be for you. You need a bachelor’s degree, but otherwise there’s just training on the job. As long as you like spreadsheets and money, this can be a wise career move.

Bus Driver

On the other end of the scale, bus drivers make about $15/hr. But it’s a very flexible job that you’ll need very little training for— just a commercial driver’s license and a clean driving record.

Administrative Management

You can enter this career within a field in which you already have experience, but you don’t have to. The most important skill is communication, so as long as you are confident in your ability to handle communication challenges, this may be a good option for you. Administrative management ranges from HR professionals to office managers, so there’s lots of variety. Your salary will depend on your region and the size of the company. Top administrative managers may make about $94,000, and lots of experience isn’t necessary.

Teacher

Long considered one of the most fulfilling jobs out there, teachers will continue to be in demand as more and more kids fill classrooms. There are different requirements depending on what level you want to teach at. Elementary school teachers typically only require a bachelor’s degree and a certificate, but college professors will need Ph.D.s; private schools may have a wide range of certification or educational requirements, and you may already be qualified to substitute teach or even tutor students. Consider how far you’re willing to go to impart your wisdom and knowledge to the next generation, and how much additional time in school you’ll need yourself.

Clergy

This is typically not a job that pays particularly well, but if you have a minimalist budget or savings that you can fall back on, becoming a member of the clergy can offer you a lot of satisfaction. You may find your work will be more meaningful, allow you to create lots of social connections, and you can be as busy with it as you’d like to be.

How To Change Careers at 50 Years Old

Before you quit your current job, take the time to create a plan. You still have time to switch jobs or even industries, but you owe it to yourself to do whatever you can to make sure that this plan sticks and helps you realize both your financial and your professional goals. If you do your homework and find the right employer, position, or new career field, you may find yourself looking forward to retirement less, and to each new day at work more.

Set Your Goals and Priorities

Identify why you are switching careers. What are you looking for in the new one? What are you willing to give up to pursue this new career? Create a list of must-have qualities for your new job.

Define and List Your Skills

It might not be a bad idea to do it on some scratch piece of paper, so you can get a better idea of what you have to offer, but reflect it on your resume as well. Revise your resume for each job you apply for, so that you can focus on the skills that they’re looking for. Remember, your experience is valuable; highlight it!

Consider School or Additional Training

If your current skills or certifications don’t match up with your dream job, then you may have to go back to school or through a certification program. You can take classes online or on campus, whatever fits your needs best, but you should also consider picking up on computer skills along the way. Knowing your way around a computer will shatter any ageist expectations potential employers could be holding against you, and technical skills are becoming more and more necessary.

Revisit Your Retirement Plans

Examine your current retirement savings, and consider how this new career could impact them. You still need to consider the long term in your job search. Maybe starting over drains your savings for a while; maybe you’ll need to go back to school. Both would need to be accounted for in your retirement plan.

Consider Entrepreneurship

One of the best bosses to work for is yourself, especially if you’ve spent your life until now working for others. Entrepreneurs over 50 are more common than you think. This move puts you in control of your hours, your work ethic, your direction as a company, everything. It’s the ultimate empowerment. If none of the careers above sounded appealing, consider becoming an entrepreneur.

No matter which path you choose, changing your career at 50 is a sign of a driven, hopeful individual who’s trying to better their life. You’re moving forward when so many others coast along. It’s a difficult decision, and it’s not without risks. However, you don’t want to risk spending another two decades in misery either. If you want to change your career, now is the time.


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Dayton is a chronic Wikipedia addict, which is detrimental to her social life but stellar for her writing. She resides in Boise, ID, surrounded by her own frantic outlines, highlighted encyclopedias, and potatoes. The latter was not by choice.

This post was updated September 20, 2018. It was originally published September 24, 2018.