Changing careers at any age

So you hate your job, are bored out of your brain or simply feel burnt out. Don’t worry – it can happen to anyone, regardless of your age. While some seek a job change, others decide that a total career change is for them.

Forty year old Michelle Bonney had worked her way up the administrative ladder in banking and medical roles when she realised that she was on a dead-end journey.

After plucking up the courage, Michelle enrolled in an education degree and is now a primary school teacher.

It was terrifying being one of only five mature age students in a class full of school leavers.

Overall, the mature age students performed better than the school-leavers because we had a firm vision of where we wanted to be and what we wanted to do,” says Michelle.

If you find yourself at a similar crossroads, take some advice from HR Expert Sarah Moore who says a career change is possible at all ages – but you should ask yourself some questions before you jump.

Changing careers at any age

In your 20s

  • Can I retrain? Commencing or returning to university or TAFE is an option, especially if you are still living at home with minimal financial overheads.
  • Am I mobile? Consider an overseas relocation, or moving to a remote part of Australia where skilled labour is always needed. TESOL is also a great way to see the world.
  • Can I follow my heart/passion? Age is on your side if you want to pick up and try something completely new, before other responsibilities may hold you back.

In your 30s

  • What are my transferable skills? You might like your type of work but not the industry. For example, the skills developed in retail shop management such as customer service, staff supervision and budget management could be transferred to the financial industry in a bank management role.
  • Is there a different job I would like at my current company? Think laterally about other opportunities and consider a sideways move. You will often retain your salary/benefits and be given additional training, or you can embark on part-time study.

In your 40s

  • What is really important to me? Is it work/life balance, earning before retirement, winding down, or working for yourself?
  • How flexible can I be? If you are an empty nester, you may be able to travel with your job, relocate or take up a fly-in fly-out (FIFO) role.
  • Am I in demand? Now that you have 20+ years of experience under your belt, you can be in demand. No matter what your career or industry, just know that you are experienced, you have seen the world, and you have been through a couple of economic cycles. Your experience is transferable and with some new skills and training from university or TAFE, the world is your oyster.

In your 50s

  • What is it that I’ve always wanted to do? It’s never to late to learn something new. Don’t worry too much about your finances either – there are plenty of payment options available so that study is affordable.
  • Can I share my experience? Your knowledge is valued so look at jobs where you could be advising, mentoring, and guiding people. Consider upgrading your qualifications so you can teach your specialist skills at a university or TAFE.
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