Second careers for the 40+ crowd

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You’re too young for retirement, too experienced for entry-level positions and too fed up with your job to stay any longer. Have you considered starting a second career? Beginning a new profession can be an exciting way to change how you feel about your work life, and the shifting economy offers more opportunities for change than you might think. Whether you’ve never before thought of switching careers or if it’s been a reoccurring dream of yours, here are some ideas for getting started and where to look.

Create an “open ideas” list
If you’re ready to leave your first career behind and move on to what’s next in life, it’s time to ask what is next. Keep a running list of ideas for your future—hobbies you enjoy, your areas of expertise, business ideas you’ve previously passed on, childhood dreams. This list can include every pipedream you’ve had. Then, narrow it down to what interests you most, what you can make happen and what you want to learn more about. Try out different fields by volunteering, taking classes and talking to those who have the position you want. Transitioning successfully to a second career depends on how much research and preparation you can do to ensure this will be the right fit.

Use economic advantages
Making a career switch can be intimidating at any point in life, but a tepid economy and family responsibilities can hinder even the biggest risk-takers. Rather than starting off on your own, take advantage of newly created positions or roles that are growing in demand. CareerBuilder’s midyear job forecast shared hopeful news for job seekers and career changers. More employers are reporting that, within their organizations, new jobs are emerging that didn’t exist five years ago, including positions tied to:

Employers are hiring in large numbers in some key areas, including those impacting revenue and innovation. If you’re looking to get some new experience before launching an independent career, here are some areas where employers are hiring first:

  • Customer service
  • Information technology
  • Sales
  • Administrative
  • Business development
  • Accounting/finance
  • Marketing

Consider secure jobs
Still not convinced there’s a second career in your future? “150 Best Jobs for a Secure Future” author Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D., shares a variety of secure-job lists based on different demographics. Switching careers during economic uncertainty is actually more common and practical than it may seem. “People tend to lose recession-sensitive jobs when economic downturns strike and the jobs they find during those hard times tend to be available because they’re secure,” Shatkin says.

Among Shatkin’s many lists of secure jobs, here are seven examples of the best secure jobs with a high percentage of mature workers:

1. Athletic trainers*
Percent growth between 2010-20: 30 percent (much faster than average)
Median annual salary: $41,600

2. Clinical, counseling and other school psychologists
Percent growth between 2010-20: 22 percent (faster than average)
Median annual salary: $68,640

3. Instructional coordinators
Percent growth between 2010-20: 20 percent (faster than average)
Median annual salary: $58,830

4. Interpreters and translators
Percent growth between 2010-20: 42 percent (much faster than average)
Median annual salary: $43,300

5. Management analysts
Percent growth between 2010-20: 22 percent (faster than average)
Median annual salary: $78,160

6. Occupational therapy assistants
Percent growth between 2010-20: 33 percent (much faster than average)
Median annual salary: $72,320

7. Technical writers
Percent growth between 2010-20: 17 percent (about as fast as average)
Median annual salary: $68,280

Have you considered starting a second career or successfully switched? Let us know in the comment section below.

*All median annual salary figures and growth percentages are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

7 Comments
  1. @RichardSPearson @careerbuilder wow! I didn’t even realize #GenY jumped that much. Thanks for the info! I’ll check it out.

  2. @ashlaurenperez Since the oldest GenY’s are just 30 it’s the trend – but so far a job every two yrs. – have to always be looking 4 next gig

  3. @RichardSPearson I’m a #GenY and I completely understand that. We just want to find whats right with us and what matches our values

  4. @RichardSPearson but sometimes job hopping is due to the fact that we can’t find quality jobs w our little experience in this economy

  5. I have been trying for 3-4you years now to change jobs. Went to school, graduated and even got certified. But since I don’t have any real ” hands on” experience no one is willing to hire me. Now what.

  6. I have been trying for 3-4 years now to change jobs. Went to school, graduated and even got certified. But since I don’t have any real ” hands on” experience no one is willing to hire me. Now what.

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