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Sep 23

How to Switch Careers at Any Age

Reading Time: 4 mins

You might think switching careers is a young person’s game. After all, those in their 20s or 30s might be less likely to have families, mortgages or other responsibilities that could make it harder to switch careers to something completely new. 

In reality though, there are a lot of ways you could switch careers later in life. There’s no reason why having commitments should stand in the way of you being able to pursue your ambitions. Switching careers is actually very possible wherever you are in life – we promise! 

Here, we’ll think about a few ways that you could switch careers at any age…

Pivot to self-employment

Consider switching career and being self employed

If you’ve spent a long time in one career area, it’s likely that you’ll have built up a strong network of contacts in the industry that you’re in. If that’s the case, you might be perfectly positioned to make the switch to becoming a career freelancer. You can do this in lots of areas – whether you’re a statistics expert or a project manager or a copywriter or a web designer. 

What does this entail? Well, choosing your niche is the first thing that you should do. Decide on your offering. Follow that by setting up your marketing channels (for example your website) and making sure the industry knows that you’ve made the switch. Ready to start your freelance work? Contact old clients or those you’d like to work with to make sure you’re giving yourself the best start possible. 

Of course, if you no longer have children to support or if you’re close to paying off your mortgage, your freedom is only increased. So, why not use this time (and potential extra income!) to start the new phase of your career? The flexibility and opportunities it affords to take on work that you really want to do will be a refreshing change after years of being employed. The freelance market really is booming, and there are lots of resources available to help you on your way. This is true whichever industry you’re in. 

Become a consultant

If you’ve got significant experience and think being self-employed is for you, you might want to consider becoming a consultant. Consultants usually have at least 15 years in their field, allowing them to bring the best levels of expertise to their clients. Usually, they will work with clients on specific projects, offering targeted and practical advice. 

As a consultant, you can charge by the hour or by the day. You should look into the typical day rates for consultants within your sector if you’re thinking you might switch careers in this way. Don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth, even if it sounds incredibly high initially! And remember the golden rule: network, network, network! 

Consider an apprenticeship

No, apprenticeships aren’t just for 19 year olds! In fact, there are specific resources and schemes for apprentices over the age of 25. The Government wants to encourage people into these schemes. You can find out more about the specifics here.

If you want to switch careers entirely, or if you want to do something practical after years in a white collar job, an apprenticeship might be for you. Apprenticeships don’t just exist in plumbing and hairdressing, though. In fact, there are opportunities in almost every sector, from accounting to social work. Whether you want to retrain with a view to starting a new corporate career or because you want to give back to your community, there’s likely to be an apprenticeship for you.

There are different levels of apprenticeship, and they take between one and five years to complete. The levels range from offering a GCSE to a master’s degree. There is more information on apprenticeships on Gov.uk

Extend your side hustle

Got a side hustle or mini business that does well when you get the time to invest in it? If you want to leave your current industry, you could think about whether extending your side project could be a sustainable way to switch careers. 

Of course, only you will know whether you have enough money to put into your side project, whether you can afford to cut your working hours to spend more time on it, or whether it has potential to be a bigger business than it currently is. These are all things that you could think about if extending it sounds appealing. Are your answers to these questions yes? Go on – take the risk! 

Consider going back to university

Consider going back to university to switch careers

Want to retrain in an area that requires a degree? Learning is lifelong, and there’s no reason why you can’t go back to university if you can find the funding to do so. 

If you already have a degree, you are unlikely to be entitled to another loan from the Government. However, lots of people who want a second round at university can get sponsorship from an employer if they’re likely to work there afterwards.

In the process of switching careers and are working part-time in the industry that you want to move into? It might be possible for your employer to sponsor you to go back to university. If you’re going to approach them to see if this is possible, you should make sure you’re clear in what the benefits to them will be. Having an upskilled workforce is likely to be a benefit to them in the long-term, so the conversation is likely to be about how long you’ll stay with them if they make the investment in you. 

Have you had success switching careers in later life? Taken on an apprenticeship, launched a consultancy business, or taken the leap into freelance? We’d love to hear about it. Share your story over on the forums.

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Tom
Tom
8 days ago

I switched career in my late 30s and have never been happier.

Joanne
Joanne
20 days ago

very useful advice.

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