Is There an Age in Life You Can No Longer Change Career Paths?

Jeff Bezos left his computer science job at 31 and launched Amazon. Julia Child worked in advertising, media, and secret intelligence before writing her first cookbook at 50. And Grandma Moses, began her prolific painting career at 78. (Business Insider, 2018) So, is there an age in life you can no longer change career paths? As you can see from the examples above, you have lots of wiggle room.

Why Do People Change Career Paths?

  • A Desire for Something Different
    Choosing a career in your late teens/early twenties and sticking with it for 40+ years is a tall order. Individual interests and priorities evolve over time. Therefore, as they get older, many people choose to switch over to a job that better reflects their personality and/or lifestyle. Motivating factors may include more meaningful work, higher pay, a desire for new challenges, room for advancement and/or flexible scheduling.
  • Career Burnout
    Someone may love their high-pressure, long-hour job at twenty-four. But by the time they’re thirty-four, they’ve done it all and they’re exhausted. Stress, loss of passion, and boredom are also common reasons for career changes.
  • Aging Out
    Some people find it difficult to keep pace with very physical positions as they age. Others may discover the job they took at 21 is in danger of being outsourced or automated. Rather than waiting around to be downsized or replaced, these workers choose to pursue change independently.

How Old Is Too Old?

According to a 2020 Gallup poll, the average expected retirement age in the United States is 66. This means people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s still have plenty of time to make a career switch. However, you should take educational requirements into account. For example, it takes about ten years to become a doctor. So, if you plan to retire at 65, going to medical school at 55 probably wouldn’t make sense. Nevertheless, you may choose to pursue medical jobs that don’t require a degree.

How Should You Go About Changing Careers?

Before you jump in with both feet, it’s important to carefully weigh your choices.

  • Think About What You Might Like to Do
    Maybe you always dreamed of becoming something as a child? Or maybe you have a new interest or hobby? Pull out a piece of paper and brainstorm all the possibilities.
  • Research Your Options
    You have an idea of which direction you’d like to go in. Now, figure out how to get there. Consider factors such as the amount of education needed, the time required, and your financial situation.
  • Test the Waters
    You may think you’ve discovered a fantastic new career path. But in the end, will you like your new job? Experiment with different opportunities before making a long-term commitment. To get a better sense of what you’re getting into, volunteer, take on contract work, or job shadow.

Do You Need Help with Your Career Change?

Halpin Staffing Services is here for you. Our recruiters can offer advice and match you with contract and/or permanent positions throughout Southeastern Wisconsin and Northeastern Illinois. Browse all our available career-building job opportunities today!

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