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Career Change at 50: A Full Guide

Career Change at 50: A Full Guide

October 14, 2023

Reinventing yourself professionally at the age of 50 might seem like a daunting task, but it’s far from impossible. In fact, many individuals find that embarking on a new career path in their fifties can be an enriching and fulfilling experience.

You don’t have to feel trapped in a role that doesn’t serve you. Your priorities and interests can change so extensively over your lifetime, so don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself about what work makes you happy and what brings you a sense of fulfilment.

This comprehensive guide will explore the possibilities, advantages, and disadvantages of a career change at 50, and provide you with valuable insights to help you navigate this transformative journey.

Career change at 50: can it be done?

The short answer is yes, a career change at 50 is entirely feasible. However, it does come with its unique set of challenges. Age should not deter you from pursuing your passions or seeking new opportunities. In fact, life experience, maturity, and a robust skill set acquired over the years can be significant assets in your journey to a new career.

Changing careers at 50 presents some unique challenges, but you will also have advantages that those changing careers at a younger age will not have. It’s important to recognise these advantages so you can make the most of them throughout the process.

Career Change at 50: A Full Guide CMD Recruitment

What career changes are most common at 50?

Career changes at 50 often fall into several common categories:

  1. Entrepreneurship: Many individuals in their fifties decide to start their own businesses, leveraging their years of experience and industry knowledge. Starting a business often has fewer barriers to entry than switching to a new career path.
  2. Education: Some opt for careers in education, becoming teachers or instructors in areas they are passionate about. After a lifetime of learning your craft, you will be able to pass on your knowledge to the next generation.
  3. Healthcare: The healthcare field often attracts older career changers, with roles like nursing, medical billing, or medical assisting being popular choices. This can offer more job satisfaction and a sense of purpose later in life.
  4. Technology: As technology continues to advance, tech-related careers such as web development, digital marketing, or data analysis have become increasingly accessible for those willing to learn.
  5. Consulting: Transitioning into a consulting role within your current industry can be a smooth way to apply your expertise in a new way. Consultants can often find more flexibility and higher earning potential.

Career Change at 50: A Full Guide CMD Recruitment

What are the advantages of a career change at 50?

You might think that changing careers at 50 would completely derail your progress and put you right back at the start, but this is rarely the case. Those changing careers in their 50s have a number of distinct advantages that are not seen in other age groups.

  1. Experience: You bring decades of professional experience to your new career, which can set you apart from younger competitors.
  2. Financial Stability: By your fifties, you may have built a solid financial foundation, allowing you to take calculated risks and invest in your career transition.
  3. Maturity and Wisdom: With age comes emotional intelligence, resilience, and the ability to handle workplace challenges with a calm and collected demeanour.
  4. Networking: Over the years, you’ve likely built a vast professional network, which can be invaluable when seeking new opportunities. You might already have all of the contacts you need to make a smooth and seamless transition to a new career.
  5. Pursuit of Passion: A career change at 50 often involves pursuing a long-held passion, leading to increased job satisfaction and overall happiness.

Career Change at 50: A Full Guide CMD Recruitment

What are the disadvantages of a career change at 50?

While there are numerous advantages, there are also some challenges to consider:

  1. Learning Curve: Learning new skills or adapting to a different work environment may take more time and effort compared to when you were younger. 
  2. Salary Adjustments: You might need to accept a lower salary initially, especially if your new career involves entry-level positions or a change in industry. You should always try to negotiate a salary at the higher end of the range, as you will bring a wide range of skills and career experience that other candidates will not be able to offer.
  3. Age Discrimination: Unfortunately, age discrimination can be a concern during the job search process. It’s essential to be prepared for potential biases and address them proactively. Remember that it is illegal for employers to ask your age, so don’t be tricked into revealing this information if you don’t want to. Your application should be considered on merit alone, not on your age.
  4. Health Considerations: Depending on the physical demands of your new career, you may need to take your health and physical fitness into account. You may not have the stamina to work long hours like you used to, but you may be more efficient in the way you work, so long hours may not be necessary.
  5. Family Commitments: Making a change earlier in your career will enable you to act independently, but by your 50s, you might have children and even grandchildren to consider. You might need to include your wider family in your decision-making process so that you can be confident you have their support.

Career Change at 50: A Full Guide CMD Recruitment

Things to consider before changing careers

If you are set on making a change in your career, being prepared for what lies ahead will serve you well. Before taking the leap into a new career at 50, consider the following:

Assess your skills

Reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, and interests. What drives you? What are your skills and passions? Take stock of your career so far and think about the transferable skills you can put to work in a new career. 

If your career change requires you to re-write your CV, you’ll want to focus on the transferable skills that are applicable to any sector. You can also use these as talking points in an interview to help set you apart from the competition.

The fact that you are still striving for new horizons at the age of 50 will automatically set you apart from the competition. You may well be going up against younger candidates, but these candidates will not have your drive and determination.

Career Change at 50: A Full Guide CMD Recruitment


Thoroughly research your desired industry or career path. Understand the job market, skill requirements, and potential employers. You need to have realistic expectations of what you can expect in your new career, or you might find that you have simply fallen victim to the idea that the grass is greener elsewhere.

By properly researching the sector – and perhaps even gaining some on-the-job experience – you will be better positioned to make a decision about your future career.

Education and Training

Determine if you need additional education or training. Online courses, certifications, or part-time classes can help bridge any knowledge gaps. Once you have taken stock of your current skills and competencies, look at some job descriptions of ideal roles and spot the gaps in your CV.

This information should form the basis of your education and training plan. If you have a safety net or buffer, you could take time away from work to retrain. Otherwise, you will have to work out how to fit training around your existing commitments. If you are hoping to move horizontally within your existing company, your employer might be willing to assist with your training plan.

Career Change at 50: A Full Guide CMD Recruitment


Leverage your existing professional network and seek guidance from mentors who have made similar transitions. Finding a mentor at your age might feel unusual, and you might even find that you have to seek mentorship from someone younger than you, but try to take an age-agnostic view towards this.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how old someone is. If they have knowledge that you don’t have, you could benefit from their insight. Your mentor may be able to learn from you in other ways, creating a mutually beneficial relationship. 

Financial Planning

Develop a financial plan to accommodate potential salary changes during your career transition. The best way to protect yourself against a financial shock will be to continue working while you navigate the change.

If you are leaving your current line of work to start a business, you will need a financial safety net to ensure your expenses are covered while you get established. The good news is that those in their 50s are more likely to have an emergency fund available, so now is the time to put it to work.

Career Change at 50: A Full Guide CMD Recruitment

CV and Cover Letter

It has probably been a while since you had to look at your CV, but now is a good time to spruce things up. The aim of your CV and cover letter will be to explain your career change so you can get a foot in the door. Be sure to highlight the transferable skills you have developed over the years and show how these may be applied to any role.

If you’re not sure how to present this information on your CV and cover letter, try consulting with a recruitment adviser. They will know the current trends in recruitment and how to make your CV stand out from the crowd. They will also know what employers are looking for and how to present your career change as a positive step.

Recruitment consultants can offer a broad range of career advice, including offering recommendations for courses that you might consider taking before you change careers. They have a finger firmly on the pulse of current hiring trends, so you should make the most of the advice and support they can offer.

Career Change at 50: A Full Guide CMD Recruitment

Interview Preparation

Practice interview techniques and be ready to address questions related to your career change. You can expect to be grilled about your reasons for changing your career later in life, so be prepared for this. Practise your answers and try answering in a few different ways so you are prepared for the question being presented in a different way.

It might have been a while since you last had to be interviewed for a role, so it’s also a good idea to review the basics. You might be relying heavily on your work experience to shine through during the interview, but it can be helpful to make sure you have covered the basics.

If you have a mentor or advisor in the sector, ask them about hiring trends and what they are currently looking for in candidates, this will help you to adjust your approach to ensure you are building your interview technique on insight rather than outdated knowledge.

Remember that every interview is an opportunity to learn more about the sector, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you are knocked back for roles. Always ask for feedback so you can use this to improve for the next interview.

Career Change at 50: A Full Guide CMD Recruitment


Understand that a career change can be a lengthy process. Stay persistent and patient throughout your journey. If you are determined to make the switch, this will shine through in your approach. Remain optimistic throughout and don’t let things like interview rejections deter you.

When you are turned down for a role, it simply means that there was another candidate more suitable for the position. With determination, you will eventually land the role that is perfect for you. 

Closing thoughts

In conclusion, a career change at 50 is entirely possible, and it can lead to a more fulfilling and rewarding professional life. While there are challenges to consider, the advantages of pursuing your passions and leveraging your experience often outweigh the disadvantages. 

With careful planning and determination, you can embark on this new chapter with confidence and enthusiasm. Remember, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams and create a brighter future for yourself.

Be sure to seek advice and support from a wide range of people, including recruitment consultants, mentors and colleagues who have made a late-career switch. Those around you will have a wealth of insight that could make your journey much easier.

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