In a word, no! Believe it or not, your 40s are one of the most effective time frames to make a career change. This milestone makes for a great pivoting point because it’s a natural crossroads in life; after all, you’re halfway through your working life with half to go, and a new direction is certainly possible. By 40, you’ve gained valuable wisdom and life experience, and you’re capable of pursuing your dreams with greater clarity.
Changing careers at 40 is not often the same experience as a career change in your 30s. 40-somethings may have several children, a job or two, a mortgage, a car payment — and priorities and responsibilities they might not have had in their 20s or even their 30s.
The good news is: with the right mindset and a proper plan, people looking for a career change in their 40s can succeed — in making the switch to a satisfying position in a new industry that pays better, puts them in a better environment, and suits them better than the last. If you make the change at 40, you’ll never have to spend your 50s and 60s wondering, “what if?”
With a guide to a career change in your 40s, the transition can be fulfilling and exciting! This article provides exactly that and gets you thinking about all the ways this career move could be possible for you.
Signs You Need a Career Change
If you feel you’ve been in the same place too long, are lacking stimulating work, or are facing a dead end in your career growth, you could be in urgent need of a career change. There are actually a few more telltale signs you need a career change — including dread for the coming workday, flatlining self-esteem, and dreams beyond the confines of the current workplace. With a little self-reflection, you can get closer to recognizing it’s time for a change.
Benefits of A Career Change At 40
Making a career change at 40 has many benefits. The first thing you should know is: you’re not “starting over.” One major advantage of a career change at this stage is the experience you bring to your new job. You’ll be able to use the skills, knowledge, and insights from your previous roles in your new position.
Some of the top ways you’ll benefit from career change in your 40s include:
- Growing & sharpening your mind
- Developing confidence
- Demonstrating adaptability
- Conquering fear of change
- Making your kids, friends, and family proud!
Career changes are actually much more common than they were a few decades ago. It’s estimated that millennials will have an average of 12 jobs throughout their career! And Generation X, the age group currently in their 40s and 50s, has changed jobs just about as much as millennials in recent years. Periodic career changes are a sustained trend for those in their 40s, and that’s not changing anytime soon.
Preparing For Your Career Change In 5 Effective Steps
Thoughtful preparation for your career change will help you meet this goal efficiently. With the following process in mind, you can make the switch to something that might define entire decades of your life!
1. Identify your ‘why.’
Figuring out who you are is probably behind you by the time you are 40. You're a more capable person than you were before, and the world likely makes more sense to you than when you were younger. Knowing how the world works and how you work yourself grants a powerful opportunity.
As Simon Sinek writes in his book, Start With Why, “people don’t [hire you] for what you do; they [hire you] for why you do it.” You can discover your “why” by asking yourself the big question: what drives you and motivates you at the deepest level? Knowing your purpose in life makes your career change that much more meaningful.
2. Research available career paths.
Lots of information is available, and you have career opportunities right at your fingertips. Before you do anything, search for that job title that serves your “why,” which might even be one you’ve always thought about.
Identify your hard skills that come from knowledge and your soft skills that come from experience, and think about the best career for a natural transition. For example, a person who’s always been good at organizing outings and occasions for friends and family could study business fundamentals and move into general business management where they work or launch a new career in hospitality business management!
3. Review your finances.
Your finances might need some special attention as you prepare for a life change. Find out about student financial aid, including student loans and grants, that are available to fund your career change!
4. Pursue upskilling through education/experience.
Once you’ve figured out why, what, and how, upskilling or education is the execution stage. Programs that offer practicums integrated with college diplomas will equip you with the necessary experience and skillsets to make the career switch even smoother.
5. Tap into your support network.
Lean on your career network and build it up every day. Keep your family and friends front and center, and use their appreciation for you as motivation to succeed.
At 40, you have the self-confidence, maturity, and motivation needed to make this transition — and you've likely already demonstrated both adaptability and consistency over time. If you have kids, they’ll almost certainly be proud of your ability to adapt to change and create your own destiny — which can motivate you even more.
So Much Of Your Career Is Still Ahead Of You
Average retirement age in Canada still sits at around 65; If you’re recently 40, you’re only at your career’s halfway point!
Switching careers at this stage gives you a chance to mitigate risks by choosing an in-demand program — while still being backed by the security of having years of work experience under your belt — allowing for sustainable growth both professionally and personally.
Moreover, it can open up many possibilities for continued learning, enabling you to develop valuable skills or sharpen ones from prior roles.
But the experience you’ve gained so far might only be a piece of the puzzle; if you’re looking for a career change at 40, some education may still be required. Because you’re only 40-something, however, there’s still ample time to graduate from college or undergo similar training before you start the next chapter.
What Is the Best Career to Start at 40?
The smoothest career change you can make at 40 is to pursue a career that interests you; the best career choice depends on who you are and what you’re good at!
Learning more about careers and industries that are in demand is another way to make up your mind about what you want to switch to. In-demand careers often come from key areas in the health, technology, and business sectors. Jobs from these areas are often called recession-proof because they are always in demand no matter how the economy is doing. Here are some popular choices for those who find their “why” in their 40s, especially for those who like making an impact!
- General Business Management: At 40 years old, you’re in a great place to make a name for yourself in managerial roles at your current workplace! If you’ve already worked in the same place for years, studying management courses will give you plenty of insight into how your business currently operates. Plus, given that many senior positions are filled by more experienced workers – such as those over the age of 40 – getting this position early on can set you up for success when transitioning into other executive roles later in your career journey. This Diploma also sets you up to make the switch to entrepreneurship — so you can work for yourself!
- Addictions & Community Health Professional: For those looking for rewarding and meaningful work, addictions support work is a great choice to specialize in. The field requires dedication, compassion, and skill in communicating with individuals who may have experienced trauma related to their addictions or lived experiences with substance abuse. You can expect to see job growth in this field over the next decade thanks to increased awareness around substance use disorders and mental health issues — as well as greater accessibility of addiction counselling services in response to drug crises. Having some real-world experience may be beneficial and even advantageous when considering this profession at age 40+. Choose a program that meets the criteria and includes the competencies required for both Canada and International Certifications, such as Sundance College’s Addictions and Community Health Professional program. Our ACHP Diploma program is approved by The Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation (CACCF).
- Medical Office Administrator (MOA): If the idea of helping people resonates with you, healthcare support answers that deep-seated need. One great option is becoming a medical office assistant or administrator (MOA). Medical office administrators provide administrative support to physicians and other healthcare professionals. As an MOA, you will be responsible for tasks like scheduling appointments, handling phone calls, greeting patients, filing public or private insurance claims, maintaining records and databases, preparing bills and invoices, and more. You can also perform a very similar role as a unit clerk at a hospital.
Degrees Vs Career-Focused Diplomas At Age 40
Great news – these positions don’t require a 4-year degree to pursue them. Diplomas qualify you for some great careers — and some of the labour force’s best and brightest opt for fast, streamlined programs to prepare for their new jobs.
Because there are greater time constraints on people in their 40s, jobseekers in this age group often choose quality, time-effective diploma programs that focus on essential skills and knowledge, such as those offered by Sundance College. With flexible learning options that are great for both singles and parents, you will be prepared for your new career in less than a year. As a career college student, you can expect to meet people from every stage of life who also decided to make a change!
As you prepare for the education related to your career change, keep in mind that there are more financial supports available than you might think! Our Student Financial Administrators are available to help determine which student loans and grants fit your needs and circumstances.
Find Your Calling & Enroll in Career College at Sundance College
40 may be just your beginning, a natural crossroad in life where you’ll keep going along your current unfulfilling path or you’ll reach a turning point and decide to follow a new direction. If you’ve found yourself in a rut, with limited earning potential, now's the time to turn it around.
40 could be the time of your life when you really find your stride! Earning a career-focused diploma will provide you with the skills and connections to make a meaningful change — to stand out on a job application, fresh from your previous career.
As you make up your mind to pursue a career change after age 40, seek help from friends, family, mentors, and college advisors. Our career path quiz is a great place to start figuring it out. And with programs available to study online and in-person, you can choose which delivery model best suits your needs at this stage in your life.