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How to Change Careers at Age 50

by Laurie Reeves

When you've put off following your dreams for whatever reason, there comes a point in life when you decide it's time to just go for it. After all, Grandma Moses didn't begin her painting career until she reached 76 years old. After hitting middle age, many baby boomers are deciding that they no longer want to wait to pursue their career passions. But 50-somethings need to be aware that big changes impact more than just one area of life. Such a change often results in a complete life makeover.

Take Stock

A career change at any age can be frightening, but even more so the older you get. When you've followed a specific career path your entire life, a change can make you feel vulnerable and insecure. You need to remember that the experience you've gained can't be learned in school. Even new college grads or postgraduates don't have the experience levels you do when you've been working your entire life. Analyze your choices and proceed intelligently. Now's not the time to shoot from the hip or make any rash decisions. Talk over your ideas with family and friends.

Career Coach

If you think you need to change your vocation but aren't really sure in which direction you want to take your career, consider meeting with a career coach or counselor. These people have training to help elicit your dream job or passions from you to help you make new choices. When you've been behind a desk all your life, an outdoor job or working with your hands instead of just your head might appeal to you. A career coach can help you analyze your options and find something suited to your desires, skills and expertise.

Develop a Plan

A career change at or over 50 usually changes other areas of your life. This could include selling your existing home and buying or renting a new one. You might also need to reduce living expenses to handle a potentially lower salary when you start a new job. Take time to plan and think about all areas of your life affected by the change. Meet or talk with people in the field you're interested in to find out more about it. You don't want to make a change only to find that you can't stand the new job.

Research

The Internet offers an excellent opportunity to let your fingers do the walking. Before making a career change, research online job opportunities to find something that appeals to you. Maybe you've decided you want to begin that business you've dreamed about, freelance, consult or work from home. Review online job websites to find out what appeals to you. The Internet also provides opportunities to make a new career change by doing such things as website design, affiliate sales, online marketing, multilevel marketing or editing and writing. Many over-50 folks have learned how to monetize their expertise and knowledge right into a new career.

Skills and Education

Evaluate your skills and education. If the new career you're thinking about requires schooling that you don't yet have, you may want to consider going back to school before quitting your current job. Research the educational requirements of your new career choices to determine if you need certification, licensure or additional schooling. Brush up your resume if you plan to work for someone else.

The Right Opportunity

Because you already have a job, finding a new career isn't a matter of survival. Take the time you need to find the right job. Better yet, if you can begin the new career part time while you still work at your old job, consider transitioning slowly to it to make certain it fits. Wait for the right opportunity to pursue your dreams; don't just up and quit your current job irrationally, unless you have the financial means to help you make the transition gracefully.

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