40 6

Has anybody changed careers mid-life?

I was just wondering what your experience was. What career did you move away from, and what career did you move to?
Any advice?

Plainjane 7 Apr 13

Enjoy being online again!

Welcome to the community of good people who base their values on evidence and appreciate civil discourse - the social network you will enjoy.

Create your free account


Feel free to reply to any comment by clicking the "Reply" button.


Went to college to be a veterinarian, left as a chemical engineer.
Started my career as a process engineer, shifted over to pipeline and marine scheduling.
Spent a brief stint as a business process analyst, before my current position within corporate venture capital. (All this was within a single (obviously rather large) company.)

My advice - do work you find interesting and gives you satisfaction. One is never too old to learn new things while applying what you have learned to new opportunities.

@Plainjane Nursing - a great career. (Am I the only one that thinks nurses do a ton of work but are often not acknowledged (nor paid) for all that they do do.)

When thinking of what you would like to do, focus on your skills (rather than specific tasks) to help with the translation. Skills such as handling multiple responsibilities simultaneously, prioritization, problem-solving, etc. By being a bit more generic (rather than specific), it should be a bit easier to translate those skills to new opportunities. Good luck!

I understand how you could get burned out at nursing....sheesh....are we under-valued or what?! If you find out how to market those skills, let me know.


I worked as a HR person, retired at 48 and opened a Photographic Studio and never looked back. I turned my hobby into a business, and did very well at it. Best thing I ever did.

@Plainjane I am retired now, and use a bridge camera. Lumix FZ200 is a fantastic camera which I sold and upgraded to a FZ300 but I find very complex. Keeps the old brain working.


I went to nursing school at age 46ish. Hated nursing school but the outcomes have been rewarding. I found a not-for-profit whose mission coincides with my own core values and every day look forward to helping clients. Thought about getting more education but the cost is nuts, so instead saving for retirement, leaving work at work and developing my interests (writing, drawing, investing in my kids).

I seriously have to get to bed now, but when you get a chance could you please elaborate on the writing part more?

@SpikeTalon you are a writer, of course this appeals to you. I was raised by a storyteller. I was never the center of attention, not comfortable there. Writing and drawing are just second nature, somehow. Beyond that, undeveloped. Have thought about stepping into writing as a side thing...maybe researching/writing articles as a nurse. The truth's daunting. If I really owned what I just uttered, I'd say buried deep and not so deep, I would write, write for myself, write to be read. Thanks for curiosity! Is this maybe how you're connecting with the writing? If you have any thoughts to share, I would like to hear more.


I was a programmer for the first 20 years of my working life. And forthe last 10 of those, I hated it. Then thanks to a fortunate convergence of events (involving Monty Python and the Holy Grail) I switched to a training consultant position. I took a pay cut, but it was my dream job. Did that for another 15 years until the company was sold. I took the separation package, moved to Hawaii, and now I'm Ludo McFixit, Handyman. I've built a deck and gazebo, with hot tub, in the jungle, turned a 2 car garage into an art school, and am the only person on the Big Island making St. Andrew's crosses, spanking benches, and other bondage furniture.

Ludo Level 7 Apr 13, 2018

As for advice; it's trite but true; do something you love, and you'll never have to work another day in your life.


Was a law enforcement officer for 15+ years, social worker for 2 and now a nothing job as I plow through school towards an MA in counseling.

@Plainjane mental health counseling. Yeah, I'm glad I'm out of it for many reasons.


[] will have all sorts of advice for you related to careers. The "manager" has been in HR forever and gives great advice. Seriously best blog ever, I read it every day.

I started my "grown up" work life at 18, joining the Army. Not a good fit. Then I got married, got out of the Army and followed my ex around. I was a Stay At Home Mom (and logistics organizer). After raising my kids I went to school and got an AA degree in Health Information Management and entered the job market at menopause as the economy was tanking. It's been a wild ride.

@Plainjane There are parts of it I like very much, and then there are the hard parts. I have a claimant now that I expect will expire before his coverage does. People are frequently frustrated or angry because there is a burden of proof and we require documentation, and doctors sometimes aren't good at sending it. The company is good, the benefits are good. I've been in a company with toxic management, and this company is a great improvement.


I was a minister for 20+ years, lost my faith and for awhile stayed in because I didn't really know what to do next. Got a job with the post office a couple of years ago as a mailman and although I don't mind it (listening to podcasts and audiobooks is a plus), I see myself going back into the non profit world (and non prophet world this time, no religious stuff haha) at some point because I love doing things that benefits others.

@Plainjane it is a harder job than I thought it would be. Are you applying to be a CCA?


Yep! Just did. At 50 I went back to school (56 now). I make less money. But I'm so much happier. Best thing I could have done for myself.


Yes, several times. I raised two daughters as a single parent and found myself starting college late, in my 30's to work towards a degree as a graphic design major. I worked as a bartender as I attended school. Prior to that due to my love of plants I had worked at a interior plant service, lt seemed easy so I started my own business selling and servicing indoor plants to homes and businesses. Because I like to learn about everything I do, I studied on my own and gained enough knowledge to have the equivilant of a Horticulture degree. From there I branched off to plant sales, landscape design, service and installation. While in college, I realized I had quite a talent in art, and started drifting more towards fine art, painting and sculpting classes. Sitting down and working at a computer was not my thing. I needed to keep moving and working with my hands. I left college early on the advice of a professor and got an entry level job painting signs for Disney, sculpting their props, and building their floats and attractions. Several job changes later, and always moving foward, I started contracting jobs building props, and painting murals for theme parks and themed restaurants. In 2000, when I was almost 40, I joined a union as a professional scuptor, building props and sets for the movie industry. I sedom ever worried, and I always put my daughters and family first. We were poor but didn't really realize it. I kept a roof on our heads and food on the table and that's what's important. My advice is do what you love or what you are good at. Never stay where you are unhappy. Embrace failure and bad things that happen as learning experiences. There's a reason for these things, they drive us forward, stimulate us and force change. Always keep learning and growing. Put family first. Be kind, thoughtful and loving to your family, yourself and others and good things will happen to you. Xoxo.

I understand it is scary but I lived and learned and made it through. It hard out there. I got far but not enough. I was never able to buy a home and I am concerned for my future, because I'm nowhere close to retirement or getting a pension, since I started late with the union. But you can't compare yourself to other people, you can only do what works for you. I always keep these words in the back of my mind, if you do nothing, nothing will happen. Thank you!

Thank you, I'm sorry you are going through this.


I was a dairy farmer for 17 years, then I became a registered nurse at 40 !


Cotton farmer to college art professor.

@Plainjane I'd actually rather be farming. The committee work and paperwork is mind numbing.

@Plainjane I tend to get antsy this time of year so I start germinating my garden plants indoors. Sure wish I had a market for veggie transplants. Not much of a market for the actual vegetables in my area.


Not entirely, but I did change directions in careers a number of times. I started off in the oil/gas/petrochemical industry in Oklahoma as a lab analyst for a few years, moved into plant operations for a few years, then back to being a lab analyst for another few, then got a wild hair and moved off to Wyoming to work in a sour gas sweetening plant (13% hydrogen sulfide). After four years there, moved to Colorado to work as an oilfield pumper, gauging tanks, wielding pipe wrenches, etc. After four years of that, moved to Salt Lake City to work in pipeline control, which is what I did for the next 29 years, in six different control centers in Salt Lake City and Tulsa. I've never been afraid of making a change. It was good for me.

There aren't many people out there with my depth of experience in this industry.


At 37, I moved from being a full time music instructor to teaching martial arts. While it is still teaching, moving from working in someone's shop to your own place was a big shift. It's been tough, but very much worth it!

@Plainjane Nothing worth doing is easy. It is important to give yourself permission to be a student, too. I had to learn a lot of new things to make it work. Most people don't want to stick their neck out there and try something new.

@Plainjane Have you read 4 hour work week yet?

@Plainjane I really like talking to entrepreneur types. If that's something you are into, chat me up. I might be useful.


Had my first retail job at 52, Radio Shack, loved it. This after working as a Funeral Director and a MAss Fataity responder for Fema. Now I'm a Customer Solutions Rep for Career Source Brevard in Palm Bay, FL. The changes have not all been fun bit I like working with people and I hope I can last a few more years and retire at some point.

BillF Level 7 Apr 13, 2018

Yes. Retired Navy, currently a teacher.

@Plainjane I like teaching, but the pay and the politics are pretty bad.


I'm impressed just how many people do have a linear career. My laughingly-called-career has consisted of a number of random side steps driven by circumstance. The downside is I've never reached anything like the proverbial pot of gold at the end. The upside is that those areas that I fell into - politics (believe it or not) and lay advocacy at employment tribunals - gave me huge, and unexpected, fulfilment that I would never had imagined. I have no lesson to learn from this, other than maybe if you follow your inclinations you do end up tapping into resources you never thought you had. You do end up poor, though.


I’ve never really found a career and at 46 don’t think I ever will. Been bartending a little bit lately and I love it. I’d like to try farming but seems like a lot to get into when my youthful body is gone now.


What are you considering? 🙂

@Plainjane I've been in your shoes. Rock bottom. Painful as it was, I realized moving in ANY direction was better than drowning in the mire worked beautifully. Hope you'll share your thoughts if it helps. Good community here!

@Plainjane if possible, don't make a leap when you feel like this...just a move in a general direction will give you momentum.


I went from a master groomer to a dispatcher in a hospital. It was depressing. I spent years apprenticing only to have a terrible accident rip my ability to groom away only a year after I finished my apprenticeship. I had no other resume skills or experience, and finding a no-physical impact job was very difficult with no real secondary education

@Plainjane yeah I like it. I don't think I'll do it forever, but it pays the bills


No advice really, I do recommend it though. I feel sorry for people who stay in the one career all their lives.
I was a banker until 30, then an industry/employment consultant, then a network engineer, industrial relations consultant, ecologist and now sustainability trainer-high school tutor- preschool educator and a hundred other tiny roles.


Once, I gave up construction and tried somthing new for a couple of years, and now I am back in construction again.


Do what you want to do. No fear... Wills it. At your age I retired from the military. Wishing you the best of luck in your new venture. Do it... with Life's Blessing.


Goldsmith. Left there, and managed to get a job in an AS400 shop as an Operator. Used that as an opportunity to put myself through school and learn to code. The day that plant shut down, I got a job as a software developer, and 16 years later, I'm still there.

My advice is to pursue something you love.


I joined an elevator company aged 21. Previously I had been a rather junior Government chemist. I rapidly won promotion to become the city's senior technician, then to becoming the zone technical manager for the whole of East and Central Africa, and eventually taking over the zone sales department in addition to the technical side. (not bragging, just giving some background.)
At the age of 47 I retired from corporate life, left East Africa, came to Spain and founded a publishing business - which started as a hobby, and like "Popsy", just grew. I retired a second time aged 69.
I'm a firm believer that, provided one knows one's own limitations and can find ways to work around them, one can do almost anything successfully.

@Plainjane Very. Both career-wise and excitement-wise. (I have the scars to prove it!)


I am currently in the midst of making a career change. I spent 14 years working in/managing a convenience store. I finally decided I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life, so at age 40 I went back to school. I am studying networking technology and got an entry level IT job about 7 months ago. It's kinda tough starting over at the bottom of the ladder (most of my coworkers are in their 20's), but I don't miss retail at all and I'm glad I made the change.


Write Comment
You can include a link to this post in your posts and comments by including the text q:56589
Agnostic does not evaluate or guarantee the accuracy of any content. Read full disclaimer.