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How to Transition Careers in Your 40s

By the time you reach your 40s, you have two decades of experience under your belt. If you have spent your entire career in the same profession, you may be hitting your stride at 40. But what if you aren’t satisfied with your career direction? You still have at least 20 more years before retirement. If your career is lackluster (at best) you have time to make a meaningful change.  

Why Change?  

Despite what the fashion magazines may tell you, you are in the prime of your life in your 40s. There are a lot of great reasons to make a career change, no matter your age. Whether your job outlook has changed, you are experiencing burnout, or you have risen to the top of your field and you aren’t feeling challenged anymore, you have plenty of time to reevaluate your career direction. By the time you have reached this phase of your life, you have great perspective on what excites and challenges you and what you want to avoid.  

How to Make a Career Change 

  1. Assess Your Strengths – By the time you reach 40, you know what you enjoy. Taking a career assessment can help you take what you have learned over the years and apply it to your career. Assessments can account for your interests, your personality type, and work-related values.  
  2. Think About Your Experience – We all have jobs we would rather forget. But, no matter the position, it taught you important lessons about yourself – what do you look for in a company, a manager, a position? Think about all of your previous positions: the company size, the managers you’ve had, the growth opportunities, the people. Be honest with yourself about what you have taken away from each position and what you want to avoid when looking at future opportunities.  
  3. Review Your Skills – Think about the skills you have learned over the years. Some skills may only be applicable to a particular job or company (like a specialized computer program or company-specific process), but hopefully, you have picked up some transferable skills. Transferable skills are things that many employers are looking for, like communication skills and leadership abilities. Keep a list of these skills and add to them often.  
  4. Review Job Outlooks – As you know, the demand for some careers has grown while demand for others has completely dropped off. If you have ever been laid off or downsized, you understand this better than most. When looking to make a change, consider the job outlook and the median earnings for these jobs. Choose something with growth potential or long-term stability.  
  5. Consider Additional Training – You may have a career in mind, but the idea of going back to school for additional training may be holding you back. The job may require a particular degree, certain skills, or both. Sometimes additional training is just what you need in order to succeed. Don’t let the thought of putting your life on hold for the next two or four years hold you back. Short-term career training is available, and with evening and weekend class options, it’s easier than you might think to fit classes into your busy schedule.  

Making a career change is always exciting, but especially exciting in your 40s. Iowa Valley Continuing Education is here to help. We can provide career assessments, career pathway navigating, short term training, and job placement services (through our partnership with WIOA). No matter where you are with your evaluation or career search, our specialists are here to help!  

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