How to Make a Career Change at 50 in 7 Simple Steps

Updated 3 December 2022

Changing your career at 50 can bring you a new sense of life as you venture into industries and occupations you've never experienced before. This can be a rewarding time for you to explore new talents, learn skills and meet different people. Learning how to make this kind of drastic career shift can help you pursue a passion that you've always wanted. In this article, we explore how to make a career change at 50, review the advantages of changing careers at this age and examine some tips to help you do it successfully.

Related: 10 Steps For How to Make a Career Change (With Roles)

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How to make a career change at 50

Follow these seven steps on how to make a career change at 50 successfully:

1. Perform a self-assessment

The first step is to assess what you want in your next career. Find out what makes work interesting to you. Consider using the services of a career counsellor, who can guide you towards making the right career decision. Factors to consider include your health, physical condition, financial needs, personal interests, retirement plans, skills and qualifications. At the end of the self-assessment, create a list of potential occupations and careers for further research.

Related: 20 Retirement Jobs (With Average Salaries and Duties)

2. Determine the career you want to pursue

After making a list of careers, narrow it down to one or two options. Before you select an occupation, research each of the positions to identify the one that best suits your interests, experience and skills. Some factors to consider include the career prospects of each job, the projected growth of the industry and the effect of technology on jobs in the coming years. Another factor to consider is the earning potential. While money may not be your primary motivator for changing careers, you still want a new occupation to pay the bills and help you save for retirement.

It's helpful to pick a career that allows you to transfer skills from your previous job. Here are more tips to help you determine what career to pursue:

Look for similarities

Many industries have functions that overlap. If you can't find a career that suits your skills and interests, look for similarities between the responsibilities of your former and new career options. Different fields often use the same practices, although there might be slight differences.

Take your time

It's entirely fine to take your time when deciding on a different career, regardless of the reasons why you want to leave your current position. It's more beneficial to perform thoughtful career research because it helps you to better assess all your available options. You can also analyse the pros and cons of each career compared to your present job, helping you determine which aspects you want most in a new role.

Be flexible

It's important to remain flexible when making a career change at 50. If you want to change careers to have a better work-life balance, an ideal job may offer less pay but more free time. A new career may require exceptions, meaning your ability to adapt is crucial.

Being flexible also means not restricting yourself to a specific work. The most viable occupation that matches your skills and experience may offer only part-time or contract employment. You can start with those options to gain a foothold in the industry. After gaining work experience in your chosen field, you can build a network and have access to more opportunities.

Read more: Types of Occupations (With Definition and Salaries)

Leverage your network

At 50, you may have already built an extensive network of colleagues, friends, relatives and acquaintances over the years. Informing these people about your plans to change careers could provide several opportunities. For example, you may approach one of your professional contacts to ask about open positions at their organisation. Sometimes they can refer you to job opportunities that aren't readily accessible through online career portals.

3. Identify the new career requirements

Once you've chosen a career, determine the requirements for you to enter the profession. Research the educational qualifications, certifications, licences and other regulatory prerequisites of the occupation. You can check recent advertisements and job descriptions for the specific skills and credentials employers in the industry desire from candidates.

Related: How to Make a Scientist Career Change (Plus Salary)

4. Rebrand your professional image

Once you've decided on a new career, it's important to rebrand your professional image to meet the expectations of the new field. Learn the industry language and practices, and rewrite your online profiles to make them more relevant. This is the time to become active in the preferred social media space of your new career. Meet new people and let them know of your availability.

Related: How to Write a Career Change Cover Letter in 7 Steps

5. Create a career plan

Once you've positioned yourself as a professional looking to make a career switch, outline a plan. It's advisable to create short- and long-term goals you want to achieve, while realistically considering your age, health and other factors that may affect your ability to continue working. Create a file to organise potential employers, job advertisements, resumes, interview dates, networking events and other activities. This can make your job search efforts more efficient and orderly.

Read more: How to Make a Career Plan and Set Career Goals (With Benefits)

6. Create a strong resume

A professional resume is crucial for promoting yourself as a viable candidate. This means writing in a professional tone and using a simple format. Modify your document to the specific requirements of each position to increase your chances of getting an interview.

It's vital that you thoroughly review each job advertisement and the company before writing your resume. This helps you identify their competencies and requirements. You can use this information to craft a resume that highlights your most relevant skills and illustrates you as the most qualified candidate. For additional assistance, consider hiring the services of a skilled and professional resume writer.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Career Change Resume

7. Be patient and positive

When you apply for jobs, remain positive, even if it takes time to get a position. During this period, surround yourself with encouraging people and engage in activities that help you get closer to achieving your goals. This can help ensure that you're ready to deliver on your duties when you eventually get the position you want.

What are the advantages of changing your career at 50?

There are several benefits you can gain when making a career change at 50, including:

  • Reduction of stress: If you're ready to change careers at this stage in your life, it may be a valuable opportunity for you to exit from your stressful work situation. Lowering your stress levels can bring you a greater sense of mental relief, while also helping you to feel more positive every day.

  • Self-actualisation: If you're 50 and ready to change careers after a long time in the same position, then you might use this as an opportunity to achieve elevated professional development and achievement. Since many people in their 50s have amassed a significant amount of knowledge and expertise, you may transfer your skills to diverse occupations and job roles.

  • New opportunities to learn: Even if you already possess vast knowledge, changing your career is still an opportunity for you to experience something new and develop novel skills. By learning about a new field or industry, you can further develop your expertise and make yourself a more multifaceted professional.

  • Chance to pursue your passion: Changing your career at 50 is an opportunity for you to achieve the occupation you always had a passion for, but never had the chance to pursue earlier in your career. You might also discover a new passion that brings you enjoyment and gives you a newfound sense of value and purpose.

Related: Tips on How to Find Your Passion in Your Profession

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Tips to help you make a career change at 50

Whether you want to explore a new job role or relieve stress, here are some tips to help you change careers at 50:

  • Consider other aspects than just money: When making a career change, make sure that you consider other important details like your emotional wellbeing, free time and personal development.

  • Be brave: Even though there's some uncertainty about what might happen if you change your career at 50, be brave and continue on your journey of self-discovery and new experiences.

  • Be practical and realistic: Regardless of your reasons for wanting to pursue a new occupation at 50, think realistically about what you can do and create a plan with practical and actionable goals you can achieve.

  • Update and improve your skill set: Improve and update your current skills, which can help you become a desirable candidate when you apply for new job openings.

  • Embrace the chance to work with young people: As young people continue to occupy more positions, make certain to remain open to learning from and working with these individuals.

  • Continue learning: Whenever you have the opportunity, continue learning about new jobs, skills, cultures and people. This can help you become a more well-rounded and thoughtful individual.

  • Cultivate cross-generational friendships: Use your career change as an opportunity to develop cross-generational friendships, helping you to remain current and better relate to your young peers and colleagues.

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