Switching Careers Later in Life

Some people know what they want to do with their lives from a young age. If you can relate, you probably had an innate talent for, and accompanying interest in, some particular type of work—so much so that you excelled in that class in high school, majored in it in university, and steadily held professional related roles for 10 or 20 years. Or more.

You may still be enjoying it. But you might otherwise find your passion for it is running dry. The problem is, deciding on your major during your post-secondary education, it turns out, might truly set the course for your career. Switching later on, therefore, can be an exciting move and a resolution to feeling stagnant in your work. While there certainly could be benefits to starting anew, there are also some obvious challenges.


“Experienced professionals” who wish to change careers are, by the very nature of having already established themselves elsewhere, a little older in age. Starting over often means starting at the bottom, where you are likely working alongside much younger colleagues. Being older can garner respect in some cases, sure, but in others, you may be looked down upon for being an old fish in a young sea. Expressing your desire to learn and your willingness to be taught and take direction, however, could help you succeed anyway.

Pay cuts

If you have been working in the same field for many years, chances are, you have worked your way up the ranks and been compensated accordingly. Changing roles altogether might mean the expertise you have gained all these years no longer applies. Therefore, you could face a lower income until you grow your skills. It is important to evaluate this before taking the leap since your salary can significantly impact your lifestyle.

Dealing with such a big change can take a little preparation and assistance. Here are some more tips for switching careers.

  1. Work with a career counsellor

If you feel the need to pursue a different path, but you are not even sure what that is yet, a career counsellor can work alongside you to help figure it out. Career counselling will often include discussing your interests and skills, undergoing a personality test to match you with prospective fields that suit your strengths, as well as unfolding mentorship possibilities you might want to pursue.

  1. Start slowly

Rather than jump right into a new field, you may find easing into it with a trial run requires less commitment and change all at once. Look for an apprenticeship, try part-time work, take a college course, or speak with someone already in the profession who can offer further advice and insight.

  1. Pursue a higher purpose

Essentially, switching careers can turn your professional life upside down, so you should make sure it’s going to be worth it. Whether your motivation is more money and stability or more enjoyment and passion, focus on upgrading instead of only slightly altering the status quo. A lateral financial change is okay if you go after something that excites you more, and a lateral change in passion is okay if you are financially compensated more. If neither factor will change, you might want to reconsider.
Robyn Karmazyn | Contributing Writer



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