Switching careers doesn’t feel like that big of a deal when you’re younger – you still feel invincible and you don’t have many people relying on you. Later in life, when you may have a spouse or children or a mortgage (or all three), changing jobs involves more risk. It’s no wonder that people in their 20s change jobs an average of 5.7 times, while people over the age of 45 switch jobs just 1.9 times.
If you’re considering changing careers in your 50s, you’ve probably thought about all of this several times over. “Retirement is closer than ever, shouldn’t I just put my head down and do whatever maximizes my ability to save?!”
Maybe, maybe not. The answer depends on several factors.
Today, we want to look at the question of which jobs could make sense when changing careers in your 50s. We’ve rounded up the top five possibilities – take a look and see if any resonate with your unique goals!
How Do You Know If It’s Time for a Change?
A career change shouldn’t be a quick decision – it’s a move that could impact your finances, routine and relationships. That being said, there are a few signs that it might be time to make the switch.
For example, if you’re constantly feeling:
- Stressed or unmotivated at work
- Like you don’t have enough free time
- Or that there isn’t a clear path forward for growth in your current career
If those feelings hit home for you, take a look at our virtual job fair below and see what other careers could be waiting to welcome you to the fold.
The Top 5 Best Careers to Start in Your 50s
With the right attitude and resources, you can successfully start any new career in your 50s. However, there are a few that stand out as top choices given their pay, freedom and relatively low learning curve.
Note: All data below is courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics unless otherwise noted.
1. Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents
Median pay: $48,770
Education necessary: High school diploma or equivalent; further requirements vary by state
Job outlook (projected percent change in employment in next 10 years): 5% (average)
Realtors and brokers have flexible schedules and commission-based pay, which is appealing to many looking for a change of pace from a regular 9-5.
For many people, helping families find their dream home can seem much more fulfilling than office work and gives you a chance to socialize on a regular basis.
One thing to keep in mind is that in many ways, realty is a marketing game. Getting your name in front of potential clients can be difficult, and the current housing market isn’t making real estate any easier. Realtors rely largely on referrals and repeat business, so getting started may take some time.
2. Consultant or Analyst
Median pay: Varies by industry, but base pay is typically $60,000+
Education necessary: Relevant experience
Job outlook: 11% (above average)
If you have had a long career in a particular profession you might be able to lend your skills and experience as a consultant on various aspects of your field. This type of work can be nice and flexible, on your own terms, while still allowing you to stay engaged in your current field.
Starting a consulting business can be a lucrative late-life career change. Depending on the field you consult in, you could charge upwards of $300 per hour for your time. Just keep in mind that more than half of small businesses close within the first five years. If you’re going to start your own consulting firm, it’s important that you stay laser-focused on sales and cash flow.
3. Financial specialist
Median pay: $73,810
Education necessary: Varies by specialty, but typically a 4-year degree plus certification and ongoing education
Job outlook: Varies by specialty, but mostly above average outlook
If you’re naturally interested in finance, then that could be a great field to look into for a second career. Bonus points if your first career was already in the field! It’s not out of the ordinary for an accountant to become an advisor, or an advisor to become a financial analyst.
Accountant, appraiser, underwriter – there are many careers in finance! Just be sure to look up the requirements for your specific job title and state as they can vary. For instance, there is technically no “requirement” to become a financial advisor, but the CFP® is quickly becoming the industry standard for certification, and it requires coursework plus at least 4,000 hours of experience.
Median pay: $61,820 per year
Education necessary: 4-year degree
Job outlook: 5% (average)
If you already have a degree/experience in your field, you may be qualified to teach college courses on your previous career/field of work. And if you’re interested in teaching high school or elementary classes, you may be closer to qualified than you think!
School districts across the country are experiencing a teacher shortage and are finding new ways to attract new talent. For instance, with the UOTeach program at the University of Oregon, you can become a certified teacher in as little as one year!
Check with your local school district for more details or consider substitute teaching for a while to see if you enjoy the work.
Median pay: $43,240
Education necessary: None
Job outlook: 3.6% (below average)
Have you ever dreamed of starting your own business? Why not now?
Starting a business may seem daunting, but anyone can do it! If you have an idea for a business venture, delve into the research and start coming up with a gameplan. You may even be able to develop your business beginnings while working at your current job.
Of course, as we mentioned before, you should proceed with caution. The majority of small businesses close within the first five years – and 20% close in the first year. Owning your own business is exciting, but it’s a lot of work. Plus, working for yourself is a much riskier prospect than working for someone else.
Whatever path you choose for your next career, it’s important to remember that you’re not limited in your options. Use these five careers as a jumping off point for your next job, or reach out to our team to learn more.
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