Gone are the days when a career meant working for the same company for 40 years and receiving a fancy watch on the day you retire. The workforce of the 21st century is much more dynamic, and now it’s quite normal for people to change their careers at least once in their working life.
In Australia, 57% of people have made a career change, and 19% have done so in the last twelve months (SEEK, 2022). If more than half of Australia’s workforce can do it, so can you.
In this guide, we’ll provide helpful info on how to change careers, including tips for successful career transitions. We’ll also dispel the myth that you need to be young to make a career change, by providing answers to commonly-asked questions such as:
- Is 30 too old to switch careers?
- Is 35 too late to start a brand new career?
- How do I change careers after 40?
- Is 55 too old to start a new career?
How old is “too old” to change careers?
Changing careers is possible at any age – in fact, the more experience you have in your current field, the greater the chance that you’ll have transferable skills. For those asking questions like ‘is it normal to change careers at 30?‘ and ‘is 40 too old to change careers?‘, don’t let anxiety about your age get in the way. People in their thirties, forties, fifties and beyond have valuable life experience on their side, plus mature-age students tend to excel academically because they’re motivated and passionate about their learning.
Determination and enthusiasm are qualities that employers value. Instead of seeing your age as a barrier, try to see it as a positive: you’ve probably got a lot more to offer than you think. It’s never too late to change direction – so if you want to try something different, you should go for it.
How hard is it to switch careers?
Career transitioning is not without its challenges, as it requires you to navigate unfamiliar territory and go beyond your comfort zone. Often, in order to change careers, you’ll need to gain a new qualification. This is where people might get discouraged; feeling they might struggle to fit study in around their current commitments. However, thanks to online learning and flexible study pathways, it’s never been easier to study something you truly love.
Other challenges include adapting to a new professional environment, and overcoming your own self-doubt. This is where it might be good to seek the assistance of a professional careers counsellor. If you study with Swinburne Online, you’ll have access to a number of career services, including workshops and career consultations. The value of study isn’t just the qualification you receive at the end of it, it’s also the interactions you’ll have with like-minded people, and the inspiration and learning you’ll gain from leaders in your chosen field.
Signs you should change careers
Maybe you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, or you’ve gone as far as you can in your current job. You might also simply be in the mood to explore something new.
Here are 8 of the most common reasons for a career change:
- Stress: Although stress can happen in any industry, if you feel stressed all the time, this is a clear sign that something’s wrong. Stress can lead to health complications, so if your work is stressing you out, you should take action to resolve it as soon as you can.
- Apathy: Sometimes people reach a point where they feel like their job is pointless, and they just stop caring. Apathy is a (big) red flag that things aren’t right, and you might be in the wrong job.
- Boredom: It’s common for people to reach a point where they feel like their work isn’t interesting or challenging anymore. Although you might have felt passionate about your job in the beginning, there’s a point at which persistent boredom is a sign that you should consider a change.
- Financial reasons: It could be that you like your job, but it simply doesn’t pay enough. Many people change careers because they want to buy a property and start a family, and they need a job that’s more financially secure to achieve their goals.
- Work/life balance: Some jobs don’t allow for much of a balance, which is a big reason why many people choose to shift careers. If you are in a situation where you want to step back a bit and spend more time with friends, family and hobbies a career change might be in the cards.
- Discontent: If you find yourself consistently unhappy with your job, it’s a clear sign that something is amiss. Prolonged discontent can affect your overall well-being, making it crucial to address the issue.
- Misalignment with dreams: Perhaps you set aside your dreams in favor of job security. However, as the years pass, these dreams may feel more distant. If your current job doesn’t align with your aspirations, it’s worth reconsidering your career path.
- Indifference: If procrastination, a lack of ambition, and disinterest dominate your work life, it’s essential to recognise that you may need a change.
How can you change careers?
Once you’ve decided that you’d like to make a change, it’s time to do some research and planning. Here are our tips for making a successful career change:
1. Reflect on your interests, skills and values
Time to get self-reflective! One way to get the ball rolling might be to do a personality test. This can help you gain insight into your passions and your strengths. Another approach is to make a list of what matters most to you, and what your skills are. Then think about what you want from your career, and what your ultimate goal is – where would you like to be 5-10 years from now?
2. Narrow down fields that you’re interested in
Before embarking on a career change, it’s wise to have a look at current job openings and to do some research on which professions are most in demand. Our article Best Careers for the Future provides information on growth industries, which could provide you with some useful career change ideas.
3. Seek advice from friends, family and your network
The people who know you the best might be able to provide good advice on changing jobs. Additionally, if you know anyone who has successfully changed their career; ask if they have any advice for you. Although it might seem counterintuitive, it could be worthwhile telling your current boss that you’re thinking of making a change. They might be able to help you find work that’s more aligned with your goals and values within the same company. They might also be able to give you a more flexible working arrangement so you can make time for your studies.
4. Find opportunities to gain exposure to the job field
One of the best things you can do if you’re contemplating a new career is to gain some actual work experience in the area you’re interested in. You might be able to do this through volunteering, organising to shadow someone in the role you’re considering, or conducting interviews with professionals currently working in this field. Freelancing might also be a good way to dip your toe in the water before you commit to a full-time role.
5. Consider studying
Studying is one of the best ways to guarantee a successful career change. Australia has some of the best universities in the world, and you can also choose to study courses and degrees online. Not only will you learn new skills to help you in your new career, but you’ll also get the opportunity to network with your tutors and peers.
6. Set goals and make a plan
Again, it helps to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. Once you know what the ultimate goal is, you can then set short, medium and long-term goals. Breaking down large goals into a series of smaller tasks is the best way to make progress when it comes to something as major as a career change.
7. Know your transferable skills
Transferable skills are those that can translate from one role to another – and are commonly sought after, such as leadership skills, initiative, problem solving, and team work.
These skills can be evident and practised through any part of life (through paid and unpaid work) and they are often the skills that employers admit they are incredibly hard to teach but very valuable to them.
8. Understand what gives you meaning
Consider what truly brings meaning and purpose to your life. You don’t have to limit your search for meaning to purely humanitarian or philanthropic pursuits. It could be finding satisfaction in optimising accounting processes or any other task that resonates with you. Meaning is a universal and vital aspect of a fulfilling career.
9. Look to the market
Engage in opportunity awareness by assessing how your skills, values, and interests align with the current job market. Explore labour market information resources, such as the Bureau of Statistics and the Labour Market Portal. Pay attention to future trends to identify growing industries and declining sectors. Additionally, tap into your local community and network to gather insights on employment prospects and industry trends.
How do you change careers while working full-time?
One of the big questions career changers have at the beginning of their journey is: Should you tell your employer you are changing careers? This depends on a number of factors, including your employment contract. It also depends on whether you have a good relationship with your employer. In an ideal scenario, your employer will support you, but unfortunately, there’s also a chance they won’t be supportive. For these reasons, it might be best to seek the advice of a professional careers counsellor before you talk to your manager.
Two of the biggest questions careers advisors get asked are ’how do I change my career while working full time?‘ and ‘how do I start a new career with a full-time job?’ If you need a degree to reach your goal, flexible options make it possible to study remotely and at your own pace. While studying, you’ll also build on your time-management skills, and improve your confidence – both important skills to have when embarking on a new career.
If you have questions about any of our courses, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly Course Consultants on 1300 069 765. You can also contact us here. We look forward to helping you take your first step towards a fulfilling and successful career.