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Jude's avatar

I am thinking about switching careers (and I'm in my late 30's). Has anyone ever switched careers in their 30's and up? What was the switch like?

Asked by Jude (31974 points ) October 5th, 2010

I teach elementary school, but, am now thinking about being a child and youth worker. I have a B.A. (psych major) and a B.E.D. (bachelor of education), and may go for my Child and Youth Worker certification. It’s a ten month accelerated program (because I have the two degrees), which would normally take 3 years to complete. The pay is a bit less (around 40 grand/per year as opposed to up 50 that I could be making teaching). The thing is, this is where I feel that I belong. I am compassionate, get struggle, have a great deal of empathy and have always had a good rapport with kids and youth. The most rewarding jobs for me were when I worked with kids who were ADHD and came from rough homes. I did all that I could to help them. I feel that this is my “calling”.

If you switched, why did you?

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18 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t qualify to answer this but I think it’s great!

iamthemob's avatar

I’m in the process, moving from the practice of law to law librarianship. I feel like this is the time I really should be making this transition, considering that I have a clear view of what I want my work life balance to be, and what I’ve loved to do in every job I’ve had.

Jude's avatar

@iamthemob Wonderful to hear! Good luck!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I’ve switched jobs within the same company (due to job elimination), and the positions were about 80% different. The most difficult part about switching jobs, even if it is in the same field but different company, is going from knowing what you were doing to having to start all over again from ground zero.

If you feel that it is your calling, then go for it. From what you have shared, it sounds like you would find this field more to your liking, which results in greater satisfaction. A paycheck isn’t the only reward in a job.

iamthemob's avatar

@mama_cakes – you too. :-)

YoBob's avatar

I have not switched careers. However, I did become unexpectedly self-employed during the great dot-com crash. Fortunately, I have not had problems finding gainful employment since then.

Now I am in my latter 40s and am considering a career change to the very profession you are leaving. I have spent 20+ years beating silicone do the extraordinary and not once during that time has an embedded system ever said “thank you”. I would like to become an elementary or middle school science teacher and am naive enough to think I can actually make a difference.

I suspect it would entail around a $30K per year pay cut, but I also suspect that the personal enrichment would balance that out. I’m not quite ready to give up that software engineering salary just yet. I need to get the kids through college first, which means several more years as a keyboard jockey. How late is to late to enter the teaching game?

Jude's avatar

@YoBob When I was in teacher’s college, there were students in their 40’s. It’s not too late!

tragiclikebowie's avatar

My mother left the nuclear industry in her late 30s. She pretty much didn’t work for the next 15–20 years. However, about 2 years ago she graduated from law school at 55 and is now taking classes to update her knowledge of the nuclear industry so they can do patent law. She is also doing environmental law, and has started her own firm. It’s never too late.

BoBo1946's avatar

The retirement issues would be my first concern. I would have to weigh the positives and negatives and make my decision. Personal happiness would also be a strong factor in my decision. I answered the question based on my concerns. This would be my thinking.

YoBob's avatar

Insurance is another biggie. When I was unexpectedly self-employed it wasn’t the income that kept me up at night, it was the lack of medical insurance.

Jude's avatar

Free health care in Canada (so, I am covered whilst in school). Retirement is an issue, though.

YoBob's avatar

except for the enormous taxes you pay to fund such “free” programs

tinyfaery's avatar

I’ve never even had a career. I’m basically the same age as you and I am just beginning my schooling to become a vet. If money isn’t an issue, go for it. I’m not sure how it works in Canada, but in the U.S. if you get a Master’s/PhD you can earn much more money in the field.

perg's avatar

I spent nearly 25 years as a journalist and quit at the age of 47 to go to work for a nonprofit as their writer/editor/PR person. Though I was pretty successful in my prior career, I was never terribly happy. I took a pay cut (and our pay/benefits were frozen last year due to the recession) and this job has its own frustrations, but I would never go back. As you say, I feel this is where I belong – I love the cause I promote, the people I work with and my ability to really engage in my community… and the civilized hours don’t hurt.

GeorgeGee's avatar

I’ve changed careers a bunch of times and gone for additional degrees/education as an adult. I love it personally, redefining one’s self and renewing one’s sense of purpose is a very healthy thing to do at any age.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I’ve switched careers at least five times, not always willingly, but every time I gained something. If this is what you want to do, GO for it. If you don’t, you will always wonder “what if?”

Jabe73's avatar

Very good question. My place is getting ready to shut down (yet another one in my area) so this thought has come to mind. However I’ve been thinking about this for the last several years now, I’m close to your age. I work in industrial maintenance but the requirements for many of these other positions I’ve been looking at I find even with all my experience and schooling I still do not qualify for alot of them and the pay isn’t really that great on top of all that.

I was thinking about doing just one trade for top dollar (like the electrical or pipefitters unions). Why pay for more schooling to make less money when I already have the qualifications to be making top dollar (without further schooling which isn’t cheap). I only done what I’ve been doing because I didn’t like to travel to far to get to work but now my choices have narrowed down.

john65pennington's avatar

My situation was entirely different than any other. for thirteen years, i was not working as a police officer, because of an IOD(injured on duty). although not in uniform for those thirteen years, i could work part time at any occupation, other than police work. i chose to drive a delivery truck for NAPA Auto Parts. this was an interesting job and i encountered no problems, until a new manager was transferred to my store. it was bad vibes from the start. he apparently had been arrested by the police. when he learned of my status, he really lowered the hammer on me. it was really bad. i held my part and endured has crape for about one year. one Friday afternoon, he decided that no one was going to receive overtime and took whiteout and cleaned out our time cards of any overtime. this was it. i took my timecard, along with two other employees cards(with their permission) and went to the district manager of NAPA. i advised him of the situation we were facing with our store manager and that tampering with an employees timecard is a felony law violation. he agreed with me and gave the three of us our time back. i suggested that this manager needs to go, that he was not a good example of what a NAPA employee should be. he also agreed with me and the firing took place.

My point in this story is this: you may never be happy going outside your realm of work safety, once you have a going career. people will not look at you the same way, in which you expect them to. i was not happy. i was out of my police “comfort zone”. you will understand this, if you change careers in midlife. if your job is not tolerable, then you have no choice. i would think two and three times before making a career change at your age.

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