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Changing careers at 40: a new adventure

Changing jobs later in life has many benefits. Some people change their careers because they want to do something that is more challenging, better utilises their skillset and provides greater satisfaction. Others may want a lifestyle switch from a role that’s become boring or stressful.
Builder working on a wall
Pastry chef working on a cake

If you know you want a change but are unsure which direction to go; we’ll give you the scoop on some of the best jobs to start at 40. Whether you’re looking for well-paid, fulfilling, stress-free, or exciting jobs - we’ve got you covered.

The benefits of changing jobs later in life

Changing careers at 40 and beyond has more benefits than you might realise. These can be tangible, like a higher salary, or more quality of life-based, such as broadening your worldview. Here are just a few of the many benefits possible when changing direction in your 40s:

  • Increased earning potential - Moving to a new job later in life can offer increased earnings, with higher salaries and better benefits.
  • Combining past skills with new - Transitioning from one field to another gives you the unique opportunity to apply your skills in a fresh environment and discover ways to strengthen them with new skills.
  • New experiences - Changing your job later in life allows you to experience something different. This can help you expand your skillsets, acquire new knowledge and develop relationships across different industries or organisations.
  • Opportunity to try something different - You often accumulate valuable experience during one career but never have time to explore different options available within other professions, which can be beneficial both professionally and personally.
  • Improved mental health and sense of fulfilment - Making a career change can bring unique opportunities and rewards. It can also improve your mental health by reducing stress due to improved work conditions.
  • Improvement of physical health - Transitioning to a more or less physically-active role based on personal needs can improve your health and fitness.
  • The potential to transition to being your own boss - Starting your own company can provide a completely different work/life balance with more freedom than being an employee.

Finding a new career that suits you

Finding a new career can be done in many ways. The first important step to finding the right career is identifying why you’re looking in the first place.

You might pursue a new career for many different reasons. You could feel unfulfilled and unsatisfied with your current job and want more challenges or different experiences. You could be looking for increased earnings potential or better benefits. Perhaps it’s more about finding a greater purpose and meaning that aligns with values closer to your beliefs. Maybe you’re aiming to secure leadership positions within companies or sectors where growth is rising.

Once you know why you’re looking, it can help you understand what to avoid and what to look for. Before seeking a new career, you should also identify your strengths and consider how they could be repurposed or influence your career trajectory. Brainstorm some ideas where you think you’ll be able to use your current career skills.

Doing career quizzes can also help determine your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. Some great online quizzes include the 16 Personalities quiz or the Big Five Personality test.

Once you know the key criteria for your future career and have a list of roles you’re interested in exploring, you can research what these careers entail. This includes responsibilities, prospects, and wage data. Put simply, knowing what you’re signing up for before signing up. Doing research can help you identify any skill gaps or areas you require further training.

Finally, nothing is more valuable than networking. Chatting with others about your career goals and interests can help steer you towards new opportunities. You might consider reaching out to a recruiter who can discuss in-depth where your skills could be applicable and put you forward for suitable jobs.

Finding a new career is an exciting and introspective journey that will see you discovering roles that you may never have considered or known about before. However, it can also be a daunting process. When completing your self-assessment, it’s important to note not only the rewards but also the risks.

Risk versus reward: things to consider

As tempting as it might be to quickly throw in the towel at your current job, certain risks are associated with an unplanned career change. The potential risks include:

  • Financial instability - Making a career change can lead to reduced income or periods of unemployment while you search for new roles and develop relevant skills.
  • Career insecurity - Finding the right fit in a different field takes time, which may mean long-term uncertainty about job security as your professional identity transitions from one industry/role into another.
  • Loss of seniority level and benefits - Changing careers often means starting at the bottom rung once again, including salary levels, benefits packages and any associated perks afforded by more senior positions.
  • Stress and anxiety when dealing with uncertainty and unknowns - If you quit your current job without a plan, generous savings accounts or solid support systems, you could be putting yourself into a highly stressful situation.

On the other hand, when you do your due diligence and plan your career change, there can be many benefits for your mental, physical and financial health.

Transferable skills for career success

One of the many advantages of changing careers at 40 is that you will most likely have a healthy amount of transferrable skills. Below are a few of the most valuable skills that you’ll be able to use to your advantage in a new career:

  • Interpersonal communication - The ability to effectively communicate with colleagues, customers and clients is an invaluable skill that will help your transition into a new career go smoothly.
  • Self-awareness - Understanding your strengths and weaknesses will help you identify areas of improvement in pursuit of a new job or career path. This can also help employers make sure they're hiring the right person.
  • Planning and organisational skills - Effective planning skills help you stay organised in any profession. These skills allow for the timely execution of tasks even during chaotic periods, especially within fast-changing work environments.
  • Problem-solving abilities - Almost all jobs require problem-solving. If you’re able to think on your toes and create solutions, it will be valuable in any role.
  • Adaptability - Being able to transition easily from one role or setting to another is vital as workplaces are always evolving. New technologies are also continually becoming more prevalent. This skill should help you stay engaged and up-to-date with the latest trends in your profession, making transitioning between careers easier.

Best career change jobs to start at 40

Depending on your needs and desires, there is an abundance of new careers and industries to explore. Below are some career change ideas that could improve your quality of life and contribute to a more financially secure future.

Well-paid jobs: feel financially secure

There’s no harm in admitting that the purpose of your career change is to increase your earning potential. Here are a few career change ideas that promise a financially secure future:

  • Electrician - With an average salary of $80,000 to $100,000 per year, changing careers to become an electrician promises a fruitful future. To transition into this sector, you’ll first need to get qualified. South West TAFE offers multiple electrician courses, including the Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician (Apprenticeship).
  • Accountant - The average salary for a financial accountant is $96,000 per year. If you’re good with numbers, this could be a great career to transition to. With South West TAFE’s Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping, you could be earning considerable money after completing a 12-month course.

Fulfilling jobs: make a positive impact

If you feel like you’re lacking fulfilment, you could consider transitioning to an industry that positively impacts society. Working in noble sectors like aged care, disability or education could change your life and promote a sense of well-being.

  • Aged care or disability worker - If you’re interested in improving the lives of others, transitioning to aged care or disability care might be a good move for you. A career change to one of these industries will leave you feeling more fulfilled at the end of the day. You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing you’re contributing to society. Check out the Certificate III in Individual Support (Traineeship) at South West TAFE. In this course, you’ll quickly learn the ins and outs of working one-on-one with individuals in community or residential settings.
  • Early childhood educator - Do you love being in the presence of children? Would you like to contribute to the well-being of our youth? Working in early childhood education could be a fantastic change from your existing routine. With courses like the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, you could be working in preschools or education centres, making a difference to tomorrow’s future.

Stress-free jobs: avoid burnout

If you’re stuck in a stressful job or unhealthy workplace atmosphere, it might do you good to transition to a more laid-back industry. Imagine going to work in a calm and positive place where satisfaction is high, and there’s no unnecessary pressure.

  • Massage therapist - Imagine working in a spa or massage centre, aromatics filling the space along with soft lighting. You could enjoy this stress-free career while also having the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping clients feel their best. South West TAFE offers a Diploma of Remedial Massage that will qualify you for massage therapist roles in just 12 months.
  • Gardener/landscaper - If you love being outside and getting your hands dirty, becoming a gardener could be your dream come true. If you’ve been stuck in a stressful office environment for years, a job out in the sunshine could be the perfect career change. South West TAFE offers a range of Agriculture, Conservation and Horticulture courses that will get you on your way to landing a role working with your hands.

Exciting jobs: challenge yourself

If you’ve been bored to tears in a monotonous role, why not consider doing something completely different? Do you love to cook? Hospitality could be an exciting move for you. Are you creative? Beauty services could be where it’s at.

  • Cook, baker, pastry chef - Do you love food and fancy yourself a good cook? Imagine the buzz of working in a kitchen, the hustle and bustle of service times and the amazing smells in the air. If you are looking for an exciting change, getting into cookery or hospitality could be the perfect move. Look at the various Food and Hospitality courses available at South West TAFE.
  • Beauty therapist - If you fancy yourself a creative person, entering the beauty industry could be a nice change. Imagine the excitement of being a part of someone’s special day by offering wedding makeup services. A Certificate IV in Beauty Therapy will have you in the middle of the action in no time!

Despite its daunting nature, pursuing a new profession at 40 and beyond has many benefits. There’s the potential for increased earning power, improved mental health and a general sense of fulfilment. If you plan your transition well and seek out the right qualifications, it can be a seamless process.

Take time to research your future goals and decide what’s more important to you. It could be landing a well-paid job, a fulfilling job or an exciting role that challenges you. With South West TAFE’s wide variety of courses across multiple industries, switching fields has never been easier! Contact SWTAFE today and take a step towards finding a career that suits your needs perfectly.