Is It Too Late For A Career Change?

By Tisa Silver | September 23, 2009 AAA

Career changes come in many varieties. Some people are forced to change careers when their employers downsize or go out of business, while others may choose to leave their field in order to pursue a new interest. Regardless of what prompts the switch, is it ever too late for a career change?

When changing careers, an earlier switch can be easier. The earlier the change, the longer you have to grow in your new profession. Changing careers later in life may make for a more dramatic transition, but if it's something you really want, then it's never too late for a career change.

If you are ready to take the plunge, here are a few ways to approach a change in your career path.

  1. Try Entrepreneurship
    Sometimes, the career change can involve changing your employer without changing your line of work. For instance, a person who works in the tax department of a business may decide to open their own tax practice to serve individuals and small businesses.

  2. Start Consulting to Test the Waters
    If you are not ready to make a total career change yet, then perhaps consulting can provide you with a sample of life outside of your current job. (Fancy yourself a problem solver? Management consulting might be right for you. Learn more in Consulting - Everybody's Doing It, Should You?)

  3. Same Employer, Different Role
    If you are satisfied with your current employer, but looking for a change of pace, an internal job search may be worthwhile. Moving to a new role with your current employer can give you a sense of security while providing you with a new opportunity.

  4. Share Your Knowledge with Students
    Many colleges and universities offer part-time teaching positions to individuals with work experience relevant to certain fields of study. Teaching can allow you to change careers while continuing to use your existing base of knowledge. (Working nine months a year and earning a six-digit salary might seem like the high life, but these jobs are not easy to come by. Check out Academic Careers In Finance.)

  5. Try the Blogosphere
    Several companies and media outlets pay professionals with specialized knowledge to write about topics in their field. Writing can increase your visibility within the industry, bolster your credibility and generate some extra income.

Before making the switch, here are some things that can help you make an easier transition.

  1. A Financial Cushion
    Changing careers can result in a pay cut if you are a beginner in your new line of work. If you decide to become an entrepreneur, then your new business will require start-up or seed capital. Extra money can also come in handy if your new career path requires additional training, education or professional certifications.

  2. Practice Makes Perfect
    Before diving head first into a new field, try gaining some experience. Whether it is through an internship, apprenticeship, part-time work or working with a mentor, experience is a good teacher. Working with more experienced professionals can introduce to your new field, and another potentially great source of assistance: a professional network. (Find out seven valuable tips to get you on your way in Land That Internship!)

  3. A Strong Professional Network
    Think about everyone you know and how they may be able to help make your transition as easy as possible. Family, friends, colleagues or merchants and businesses you patronize may have connections and/or experiences you can benefit from. Reach out to them for advice, introductions and maybe even referrals.

Making a career change may not be easy, but it can be worthwhile. Remember: many skills, such as communication, teamwork and leadership, can be transferred from one job to the next. Take your existing knowledge, skills and experiences and build upon them in order to make the transition as smooth as possible. (Frustrated with your job but aren't interested in a career change? Check out Rejuvenate Your Life And Career With A Sabbatical.)

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