When you’re over 40 and considering a career change, your idea of the best career could differ radically from that of another woman the same age. You might want to earn more money, while your peer could be looking for a job with less stress. Perhaps you once had a career dream, but money issues or marriage sent you down a different path. Each woman defines her own “best” career.
What Women Want
An October 2009 article in “Daily Finance” reported mature women want jobs with meaning, a high level of control and freedom, a chance to work a flexible schedule, and a job in a growing field with a bright future. Nearly 80 percent also wanted a job that is appropriate for a woman over 40, but that could be different from one woman to the next. Your personal skills and talents might steer you into a new career. Women who have good communication and presentation skills, for example, might become training and development specialists, according to an October 2012 article in “Work Reimagined.”
Evaluate Your Situation
Considerations in choosing a new career after 40 include education, certification or licensing issues, financing for your education, available time, your personal skills and qualifications, and your ability to meet the physical requirements of the job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In some cases, a woman who has spent years working on a hobby might turn her experience in that field into a new career. An amateur singer, for example, might turn that experience into a professional career, as 48-year-old Susan Boyle did with her performances on "Britain’s Got Talent." A university professor who has always enjoyed writing might become a full-time fiction writer, as Diana Gabaldon did when she wrote "Outlander."
If you have the financial resources to pay for your education and go to school full-time, you may be limited only by your personal interests and abilities. Medical school, for example, is expensive -- the average debt for medical school graduates in October 2013 was $169,901, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges. (ref 7) It is also a lengthy process, which takes a minimum of four years in medical school and three in residency. If you’re a nurse with a bachelor’s degree who always wanted to be a doctor, however, you could be only eight years away from an M.D. and might practice for another 20 years.
In some cases, the physical aspects of her current job might become too much for the woman over 40. Law enforcement and firefighting, for example, are physically demanding. The police officer might choose to go back to school for a paralegal or law degree, however. The firefighter could stay in the field by specializing in arson investigation. If you’ve been a full-time farmer all your life, you might want to scale back to a smaller, specialized market garden. A nurse might take a one-year certificate course to move into the role of psychiatric technician, which is less physically demanding, according to "Work Reimagined." Your individual circumstances, interests and goals will determine what's best for you at this time in your life.
- Susan Boyle Music: Susan Boyle’s Story
- Daily Finance: More Magazine's 10 Best Jobs For Women Over 40
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Career Planning – the Second Time Around
- Forbes: Switching Careers After 40 – Three Success Stories
- Work Reimagined: 6 Careers Worth Going Back to School For
- Diana Gabladon: Bio
- American Association of Medical Colleges: Medical Student Education - Debt, Costs, and Loan Repayment Fact Card
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physicians and Surgeons
- Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images