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Changing Careers Past Age 40? 5 Factors to Weigh Before Taking the Leap

Changing Careers Past Age 40? 5 Factors to Weigh Before Taking the Leap

Are you feeling stuck in your current job? Would you like to earn more money or transition to a new career where your talents are acknowledged and appreciated? Perhaps you have a dream job in mind — one you will always regret not exploring when you had the chance.

You’re not alone. According to a recent survey by the career website, these concerns are leading millions of people to change careers. Survey respondents told that the following three considerations overwhelmingly drive their career plans:

  • They want to earn more money (79%)
  • They’re no longer challenged or satisfied in their current position (78%)
  • They’re seeking more opportunities for advancement (77%)

The average age of these mid-career job changers is 39 years old.

If you are working now but seriously considering a career change, take time to reflect on what you would like your career to be if you had the chance to design it yourself today. What current competencies can you bring to your new, chosen profession, and which new skills will you need to acquire? How long will it take to develop these new skills, and can you afford the necessary educational expenses?

Not surprisingly, the professors and staff at the University of Dayton Law School believe that education is a reliable bridge to a more fulfilling and prosperous life.

Midlife career changes are challenging. Here are five questions you should be able to answer before taking the leap.

1. What’s your passion?

When making a career change after 40, the focus should be on you. This is your chance to design a life that you will find challenging and rewarding. Are you a “doer,” a leader, a negotiator, or a team player? Do you enjoy technical, detail-oriented work?

Which kinds of activities make you feel fulfilled and functioning at your best?

2. What are your financial needs?

Unless you’re one of the lucky few with independent means, your career must provide enough financial compensation to support yourself and your family.

If you’re considering making a career change after age 40, the federal government is worth a long look as a potential employer. The compensation is competitive, and there’s no mandatory retirement age for federal employees, except for law enforcement, firefighters, and air traffic control positions. You can have a long, satisfying government career, even if you start after age 40. Pensions vest after just five years.

3. What’s your current skills inventory?

Employment websites, career pages on corporate websites, and the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management website provide detailed and reliable information about the skills needed and the compensation available for each open position.

Here’s a helpful exercise: Make a list of your current skill set and qualifications, then compare that list to the qualifications for the desired position. Can you bridge the gap between what you’ve got and what you need? What type of specialized training is needed for the new position? Can education be substituted for job experience?

And remember: The problem-solving, negotiation, collaboration, and leadership skills you already have will be attractive to employers in any occupation.

4. How long will it take to transition to a new career?

Transitioning to careers that require specialized training or deep technical backgrounds will be difficult at any age. Fortunately, there’s never been a better time to gain expertise and earn academic credentials in emerging, in-demand fields of knowledge. University campuses across the country are open to mid-career learners looking for a change in both in-person and online settings.

5. Do you have the motivation to make a change?

Persons considering a career change after age 40 should be prepared to work hard. In many cases, the time you’ll need to acquire the necessary skills to transition to a new career will be on top of the time you’re already devoting to family and current job responsibilities. The key to success is the will to do whatever it takes to stay motivated and on track toward that new career.

Are you interested in a government career or within the private sector leading your company’s business dealings with the government? The University of Dayton School of Law's Government Contracting program offers a unique opportunity to transition to these exciting careers. With convenient evening classes that are 100% online, the Government Contracting program provides students with sought-after expertise in legal subjects necessary to thrive in all contracting and acquisition roles. Earn your degree in as little as one year.

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Government Contracting and Procurement Program


Phone: (937) 229-1501


Government Contracting and Procurement

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300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 2772