How to Make a Career Change at 40: What are the Best Jobs?

Article reading time: 12 min. | 07. Aug 2023, written by Margherita Seppi
Tags CareerChange MidlifeCareerChange 40PlusCareer CareerTransition NewBeginnings CareerAdvice ProfessionalGrowth PersonalDevelopment
How to do it

The good news is that there is always time to pursue your passion and embark on a new career journey. This comprehensive guide walks you through the steps to successfully navigate a career change at 40. 

Explore the best industries for starting anew, and share inspiring real-life success stories. So, let's dive in and discover the exciting opportunities that await you in your new career chapter!

How to change careers at 40 or any age

Whatever the age, but particularly if you're considering a new career path at 40, you should always consider these key factors:

Assess your current job, is it a career, or could it be? Ask yourself, are you on the right path? Do you need a new job? A career switch, or can you reinvent yourself? Think about why you're unhappy - are you missing out on work-life balance? Is your job affecting your mental health?

Seeking a career transition is not unreasonable because everyone wants to be on the right career path at different times. The trick is not changing job titles too often and appearing flighty. 

Getting excited about the possibilities is part of professional life, or at least it should be. Professional growth only happens with change.

So let's start assessing your career options, put together a successful career pivot, and decide if you need to upskill to get a lucrative career.

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Analyzing your current job satisfaction

Job satisfaction is crucial for your happiness and well-being, especially as you juggle family and financial responsibilities. 

According to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study, 48% of employees cited job satisfaction as the most critical factor in their decision to change careers. To assess your job satisfaction and understand if you are in the wrong career, consider the following questions:

  • Does your current position make you happy, and can you fulfil your family obligations?
  • Do you feel valued and appreciated at work, or are your efforts going unnoticed?
  • Are you passionate about your job, or has it become monotonous and unfulfilling?
  • Are there opportunities for growth and advancement in your current role that can lead to increased financial stability?
  • Do your current skills boost your mental health? Is your professional life promoting your sense of well-being?

If you answer "no" to most of these questions, it might be time to consider that you're in the wrong career and that changing careers to suit your evolving priorities could solve your problems.

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Identifying your skills and interests

When contemplating a successful career change, it's essential to identify your current skills and interests to ensure a smooth transition into a new field that aligns with your preferences. Reflect on your past experiences and achievements, and consider the following:

  • What are your strongest skills, and how can they be applied to a new career or even your own business that offers better opportunities with more responsibilities and financial stability?
  • What are your interests and passions outside of work, and how can they be incorporated into a job search?
  • Are any industries or job roles aligning with your skills, interests, and priorities?

For example, suppose you have strong communication and problem-solving skills from your current role as a project manager. In that case, consider transitioning into a consulting or training position in a different industry that offers more flexibility and higher earning potential and considers your desired retirement age.

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Recognizing the need for a midlife career change

A midlife career change can be daunting, but it's essential to recognize when it's time to make a move that better aligns with your current priorities. In a study written by the American Institute for Economic Research, 82% of respondents who made a midlife career change reported being happier in their new roles - Here are some signs that it might be time for a different career:

  • Feeling stuck or unfulfilled in your current role, with no room for growth or increased income
  • Experiencing burnout or chronic stress from work, affecting your personal life and family relationships
  • A desire for more flexibility to accommodate family obligations or personal passions, and achieve a better work-life balance
  • A lack of growth or advancement opportunities in your current industry, hindering your financial stability

If you resonate with these signs, it's worth exploring the possibility of making a career change or considering changing jobs that better suit your transferable skills.

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Successful tips

How to make a career change at 40 successfully

Embarking on a career change at 40 can be exciting and challenging, especially in today's economy with rising inflation and shifting job markets.

However, with the right approach, you can successfully transition into a new career that meets your evolving needs and priorities. Here are some practical steps to help you make the switch.

Researching the best second careers after 40

The first step in switching careers from your current career is researching potential new jobs that align with your skills, interests, and priorities. Consider industries with solid growth potential, higher earning opportunities, and flexibility to accommodate your personal and family life.

For example, the tech industry is booming and offers various roles with competitive salaries and remote work options. Similarly, healthcare is a stable and rewarding field with numerous opportunities for career growth.

To identify the best second career in a newly chosen industry, explore job boards, read industry reports, speak with professionals, contact a business analyst in your desired field to gain insights into job prospects' salary expectations, and discover whether your skills will be in high demand read our guide on how to choose a career

Networking and building connections in your desired field

As the saying goes, "It's not what you know, but who you know." Networking is a critical component of successfully switching your career. Building connections in your desired field can open doors to job opportunities, provide valuable insights, help you gain credibility as a newcomer, and promote career transition possibilities.

Building a digital Rolodex is part of having professional adult responsibilities and is critical if you want to change jobs - the difference between making those make mortgage payments and not is a call away.

Here are some ways to expand your professional network:

Attend industry events, conferences, and workshops to meet like-minded professionals and learn about the latest trends. For instance, if you're interested in transitioning into the tech industry, consider attending events like TechCrunch Disrupt, Web Summit, or local meetups organized by your city's tech community.

Join online forums, social media groups, and professional associations related to your desired field. For example, LinkedIn is a treasure trove of industry-specific groups, such as "Healthcare IT Networking & Innovation" or "Global Project Management Network," where you can engage with professionals, share your experiences, and learn from others.

Contact your existing network and inform them about your career change plans. They might know someone in your desired field who can provide guidance or job leads.

Gaining new skills and education for your new career

To successfully transition into a new career at 40, you may need to acquire new skills or further your education. This increases your employability and demonstrates your commitment to your new career path.

Consider the following options to enhance your skillset; education is never wasted when you're changing careers:

Enroll in online courses or certification programs related to your desired field. Many reputable institutions, like IU International, offer flexible learning options for working adults.

Undertake additional education, and consider an advanced degree, such as a Master's or MBA, to increase your earning potential and credibility in your new field.

Volunteer or undertake freelance projects in your desired field to gain practical experience and showcase your new skills.

Watch TED talks, listen to podcasts, read, and gather information about careers at 40. Know who the big players in your chosen industry are to help you achieve your career goals.

Find a mentor to help you with the career transition because changing careers isn't easy at any age - mentors want to help and may hold the key to your midlife career change.

Are you still unsure how to make a career change at 40? Our insightful video guide provides key tips and strategies for successfully navigating this significant transition. View on to discover how to assess your skills, research new industries, and leverage your transferable experiences for a seamless career shift.

Top industries and job opportunities

Best careers to start at 40: Top industries and job opportunities

If you're considering a career change, exploring industries that align with your skills, interests, and priorities is essential. Here are the top sectors with promising career prospects for those seeking new careers at 40.

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Tech: A growing demand for experienced professionals

The tech industry thrives, offering some of the best second careers after 40. With various roles available, there's likely a position that suits your skills and interests.

The demand for experienced professionals in software development, cybersecurity, and data analysis and all areas of data science is high, ensuring long-term job prospects and competitive salaries.

For example, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 11% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 667,600 new jobs in tech presents an excellent opportunity for those seeking the best careers in the tech industry at 40. 

Start your career changes with a bachelor's in computer science or top elevate your career paths with a master's degree. These courses are designed to bring you up to speed with the latest developments in the tech industry and increase your chances of a new job.

Data Science is another growth area; careers in data science are always in high demand. Applied AI science is developing so fast that new jobs appear with specialist companies daily.

Cyber Security is a rich industry that will need new people to keep up with ever increasing threats to national security and data security. A master’s in data security is a fast track to success if you are a critical and strategic thinker.

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Healthcare: A stable and rewarding industry

Healthcare is another industry that offers some of the best careers and places to start your job search. It's a stable and rewarding field with numerous opportunities, ranging from nursing and medical technology to healthcare administration and allied health professions.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that healthcare occupations will grow 16% from 2020 to 2030, adding 2.6 million new jobs - these stats make healthcare a promising industry for those seeking a fulfilling and stable career change.

A master's in international healthcare management or a bachelor's degree is also a safe bet.

With an MBA in healthcare management, you can get more responsibilities that come with additional education and enhance your well-being and those around you - career transitions have never looked so promising.

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Business and management for talented leaders

If you have a knack for leadership and strategic thinking, a career in business and management could be an ideal choice when considering the best second careers after 40. This industry offers a wide range of roles and opportunities for growth, such as project management, human resources, marketing, and finance.

According to the World Economic Forum report, leadership and social influence are among the top skills in demand for 2025, showcasing the value of talented leaders in the evolving business landscape. As an experienced professional, you can leverage your skills and expertise to excel in a new career in business and management at 40.

An MBA in business administration or one year MBA can fast-track you into management, while an MBA in human resources could be your new career path - companies always need resourceful HR managers.

Starting a career with no degree

Starting a career at 40 with no degree: Alternative paths to success

No formal degree? Don't let that hold you back from pursuing your chosen career path. With alternative ways to success that leverage your work experience and offer flexible learning options, you can still achieve your career goals and transition into a fulfilling new role.

Consider, if finances allow, a grown-up apprenticeship or internship - career path changes often mean you have to think differently.

Recognition of prior learning: Capitalize on your work experience

Your years of hard work shouldn't go unnoticed. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a process that values your work experience, skills, and knowledge acquired outside of formal education.

This is especially advantageous for those changing careers at 40, as RPL allows you to capitalize on your experience and potentially earn a Master's or MBA without a Bachelor's degree.

At IU International we understand the worth of your professional background, offering RPL programs for individuals with at least six years of work experience. This allows you to climb the career ladder without starting from the bottom!

Online degrees and certifications: Tailored education for busy lives

As a working adult contemplating a career change at 40, you need an educational solution that fits your busy life. Online degrees and certifications provide flexible learning schedules, asynchronous learning, and on-demand online exams, allowing you to balance your education with your current job and personal commitments.

At IU International we offer a variety of online degree programs and certifications in diverse fields, such as tech, business, and healthcare. These tailored, accredited programmes equip you with the qualifications to successfully break into a new career at 40, even without a prior degree.

Diversification means you can use your transferable skills to change careers from mundane to inspired roles.

Apprenticeships and on-the-job training

For those starting a career at 40 without a degree, apprenticeships and on-the-job training programs open doors to valuable hands-on experience. These programs combine real-world work experience with classroom instruction, enabling you to learn while gaining practical skills in your chosen field.

Various industries, including skilled trades, healthcare, and technology, offer apprenticeships and on-the-job training opportunities for individuals seeking a career change.

By participating in these programs, you can demonstrate your commitment to learning and showcase your practical, transferable skills to potential employers, elevating your chances of success in your new career.

With apprenticeships and internships, while these may seem tailored to young people, not so, employers love those with enough grit to change careers and look at getting the best job - making a career change in midlife shows well-developed emotional intelligence and resilience.

4 advantages of a career change at 40

  1. Promoted professional growth for a better personal life.
  2. Meeting your life and career goals enhances your entire life.
  3. Upgrading your current skills and responsibilities often means more money.
  4. Switching careers will give you a career pivot that will pay dividends by retirement age.

Seize the opportunity for a fulfilling career change at 40 at IU!

As you consider a career change at 40, remember that it's never too late to pursue your dreams and redefine your professional path. IU International is here to support you throughout your journey, providing the tools, resources, and educational programs that cater to your unique needs and aspirations.

At IU, we believe in the power of expertise, inclusion, diversification, advocacy, collaboration, and transparency. Our mission is to create a welcoming and empowering environment for individuals seeking new opportunities and growth at any stage of their careers.

By enrolling in one of our flexible online courses or degree programs, you can unlock the potential for a rewarding and fulfilling career change at 40, tailored to your personal and professional goals. At IU, we understand the importance of balancing your education with your current job and family commitments. That's why we offer asynchronous learning, online exams on demand, and accelerated degree programs that cater to your busy lifestyle.

Moreover, our recognition of prior learning (RPL) programs ensures your work experience and skills do not go unnoticed. With at least six years of work experience, you may qualify for advanced degree programs like Master's or MBA, fast-tracking your career change and maximizing your potential.

So, why wait? Explore the transformative educational opportunities at IU International and take charge of your future! Seize the opportunity to turn your career change dreams into reality and embark on a fulfilling and exciting new professional journey at 40 - or whenever you want.

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Is 40 too old to start a new career?

No, 40 is a mindset; career changes in midlife are a sign of growth and, with the help of your professional network, and is more accessible than you think.

What jobs can I do at the age of 40?

You can do any job at 40, you might be too old to play professional football, but you're still young enough to take a managerial role with more responsibilities; your age is an asset.

What is the best career at the age of 40?

Making a career change in midlife is all about embracing your goals and interests - so ask yourself what transferable skills you have and what sort of lucrative career you want, and check out the high-demand industries that fit your criteria.

How do I restart my career at 40?

The first thing to do to restart your career at 40 is go online and see what's available in your chosen field; if you want a different career, you must do the homework to find the best jobs that meet your financial responsibilities.

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