Career Changes at 40 (and beyond)


Forty-year-olds have many responsibilities that could make a work transition more difficult than changing careers at a younger age. At age 40, you are more likely to have children for whom you are financially responsible. You may have bought a house during the last few years and have a mortgage to pay. The average age of a typical Canadian home-buyer is mid-to late twenties, so by 40 most are part way through paying off their first mortgage.

Annual expenses are higher for 35 to 44-year-olds than they are for 25 to 34-year-olds. Living arrangements and vehicles are typically of a higher quality and therefore more expensive for older persons.

Unlike a 30-year-old who may spend $6,200 on food, $17,900 on housing, and $2,200 on healthcare per year, a 40-year-old may have to dip into savings if he or she intends to take time off from work to prepare for a new career. Alternatively, one may have to continue to work in his or her current occupation while getting ready for a new one.

How to Make the Change

Don’t be discouraged by the difficulties involved in making a midlife career change. If you decide you want to make this transition, try to find a way to do it. It may take a bit longer than it would have if you were ten years younger, but if you do it right, it will likely be worthwhile. Since this will be an rather difficult endeavor, it is so important to make sure you give a lot of thought into choosing a new career, such as trying out sites like Career Cruising or RBC Upskill.

Career counsellors can help you to learn about your interests, personality type, aptitudes, and work-related values; even if you took this kind of testing at an earlier age, it’s worth re-evaluating your current skills, interests and current career goals.

Your self-assessment may indicate that a career is a good match for you based on your traits, but at age 40, you have other things to consider. For example, your financial responsibilities may not allow you to commit a lot of money to training and education. With a family to care for, spending a lot of time studying may not be something you want to do right now. Speaking of preparation, while you still have approximately 25 years left of your career, you may not want to wait several years before you can begin working in your new occupation.

Career Link can offer you some helpful tips through one-on-one counselling for eligible clients or through taking some of our FREE workshops, such as the “The Modern Job Hunt” – sign up here!

If you want to transition into a new career fairly quickly, you should choose one that doesn’t require a lot of preparation.

One of the best things about your accumulated years of work is that you have a lot of experience, and therefore transferable skills. These are talents and abilities you have acquired from doing one type of work that you can use in another. For some careers, you may even be able to substitute your transferable skills for formal training.

In addition to getting the facts about educational requirements, learn more about career profiles through WorkBC.

Once you have gathered all your data, evaluate it to decide which occupations are most suitable. Compare job duties to decide which ones you like and which you don’t. If there are any tasks, you can’t see yourself performing—remember you don’t have to love every one of them, but you must be willing to do it—remove the occupation from your list. Make sure the salary will cover your expenses, let you contribute to savings, and allow you to do things you enjoy, for example, travel.

Career Shifts at 50 or 60? Check out this great article and interview in Forbes Magazine.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: