Is it possible to make a Career Change in your 40s?

Many people in their forties have the mindset that a late career change can be disastrous.

Thankfully, finding a satisfying and higher paying job late in your career is much more obtainable than you might believe.

The American Institute for Economic Research recently discovered in their report “New Careers for Older Workers,” that a whopping 82% of individuals who transitioned into a new career after 45 were successful. With numbers like that, there is simply no reason to accept the wise tale of the jump being nearly impossible.

According to the study, those workers who pursued new career paths that leveraged their existing work skills had the most success. On the other hand, individuals trying to jump into careers that they had little to no skills for fared poorly. However, it is important to note that this is common with such career pursuits in general.

In the study done by AIER, a career change is defined as a “change in job that involves new tasks, with either the same or a different employer in either the same or a different field.”

One of the primary goals of AIER’s study was to find the approximate number of older workers that were actively changing careers and determining what skill sets, resourses and other material best helped them make a successful transition into a new career.

Here are a few of the most interesting and valuable pieces of information the study uncovered. While the data is focused on the USA, the findings are interesting/relevant for other places in the world as well.

  • Roughly 16 to 29 million Americans attempted a career change after the age of 45.
  • Of those that successfully made a career change, 18% of workers maintained the same salary, 50% saw their salaries rise, and 31% experienced a decrease in pay.
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 of those who successfully changed careers reported being happy about the transition, while a full 65% of those same workers felt less stressed about their work situation.

While many transitions were successful, the transition itself sometimes took a while to materialize and show benefits. For example, some of the workers surveyed in AIER’s report noted that upon their initial career change, they had to take pay cuts before experiencing a higher pay rate later on.

Speaking on this issue, one respondent stated, “sometimes you have to take a little pay cut, but in the long run it will pay you more. If you feel you need a change, do it.”

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