7 Steps to a Successful Midlife Career Change

No one should stay in a job that makes them feel unhappy and unfulfilled. There is a massive variety of career paths to choose from, and you should pursue a rewarding role that aligns with your skills, experience, and work preferences. 

A career change allows you to pursue your interests, improve your work-life balance, and boost your job satisfaction. Switching careers can be a challenge if you already have a family and other responsibilities, but it is possible. 

Here are seven steps to a successful midlife career change:

Step 1: Evaluate your current job role

If you are considering changing careers, then the first thing you should do is evaluate your current job satisfaction to understand why you want to leave your job role. A survey by Joblist found that better pay is the top reason why people switch careers, followed by too much stress and a better work-life balance. 

Think carefully about why you want to switch careers and what you hope to get out of a new role. Transitioning to a new job can be time-consuming and expensive, particularly if you move to a completely new field or industry. Make sure the pros outweigh the cons and choose a new career that will bring you long-term benefits. 

Step 2: Find your dream career

If you have decided that you want to leave your current role, then it’s time to start exploring alternative career paths. Think carefully about the type of career you want. Research career options and write a list of career alternatives you are interested in. You can discuss these options with your family and friends to get their opinions on which career will suit you.

You can book an appointment with a career counselor if you are struggling to come up with career alternatives. They can give you valuable advice on different career paths that will suit your skills, experience, and interests. You can also take a free online career quiz to get ideas and help you find your ideal career path. 

Step 3: Gain hands-on experience  

Research can give you lots of valuable information about different careers, but this shouldn’t replace hands-on experience. Work experience will give you a first-hand insight into the industry and help you decide whether a certain career is right for you. You should gain relevant experience before you start acquiring additional qualifications or applying for roles in the field. 

One of the best ways to get hands-on experience before a career change is shadowing professionals in fields of primary interest. This will allow you to observe their work first-hand. You can contact companies directly to enquire about shadowing opportunities. 

Step 4: Earn new qualifications  

Once you have chosen a new career, you will need to build your skills and acquire the qualifications needed for that role. The qualifications you need will depend on your prior education/experience and the level of the role you are going for. 

For example, you will need to earn a higher nursing degree like a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) if you hope to transition into advanced clinical nursing. Research the differences between DNP vs PhD qualifications if you want to work in this field. 

Make sure that you have a clear understanding of the skills and qualifications you will need to acquire before you start planning a career change. In some cases, you may be able to complete accelerated courses based on your existing education and experience.

Step 5: Expand your professional network

Networking is crucial when you are planning a career change, especially if you’re switching careers later in life. Your professional contacts can help you build relevant experience and find new opportunities in your chosen field. 

Attend industry-related events to make new connections and expand your professional network. You can also speak with your existing contacts to make them aware that you’re interested in a specific career or industry, as they might know of opportunities that would suit you. 

Step 6: Build an emergency fund 

Transitioning to a new career can be expensive as it’s likely that you will need to pay for new qualifications to expand your skills. It is possible that you might have to take unpaid time off work to acquire these qualifications, and you may also take a pay cut when you start working in a new field, as most entry-level jobs have low starting salaries. 

According to discover.com, “you should prepare for a transition to a new career by building an emergency fund that contains at least six months’ worth of expenses.” Having an emergency fund will help to alleviate the financial stress of switching to a new career, as you will have money to fall back on if things don’t work out as planned. 

Evaluate your finances and make sure that you can afford a career change and stay financially stable while you are transitioning to a new field or role. 

Step 7: Update your resume 

Once you are ready to start applying for roles in your new industry, make sure that you update your to reflect your new career goals. You should also write a cover letter that explains your background and aspirations. 

Take a look at this article by The Balance Careers for tips on how to write an effective career change resume. You can also speak to a recruitment consultant for advice and guidance on updating your resume and writing a powerful cover letter. 


People pursue a career change for many different reasons. It may be due to a lack of progression, low job satisfaction, or a poor work-life balance. If you feel unhappy in your current job role, then you’ll be pleased to know that it’s possible to switch careers no matter what point you are in your life. 

Planning a career change when you are older can be more challenging, particularly if you have a family and other responsibilities, but it can be done. Follow the steps listed above to plan a successful midlife career change and start working towards your professional goals.