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Akua's avatar

Has anyone here changed careers later in life (like over 40)?

Asked by Akua (4730points) March 20th, 2012

For years I have been contemplating a career. Right now I have a job and it’s not even a job I like. I want to do something in the medical field but I have no confidence, I’m over 40 and my math sucks. Has anyone here changed careers over 40? Done something they never thought they could do? Can I learn math well enough at this point in life to go into the healthcare field or it pretty much a done deal? I have been told that I am comforting and easy to talk to, so nursing (LPN or RN) might be good, or maybe PT or Respiratory Therapist. I hate my job! I do have experience in Mental Health field, Geriatrics and I’m pretty good at Medical Terminology (I like it). I have great communication skills and English and writing are my strengths (except when I’m on Fluther).

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23 Answers

jerv's avatar

Well, my uncle was about that old when he decided to get out of the restaurant business and do something a little more mechanical. He spent a few years as a building superintendent before going into plumbing and heating.

As for whether you can learn math at this point, I don’t think age has anything to do with that. Some people are naturally not great with numbers, so if you can’t learn it now then I don’t think you could’ve learned it 20 years ago either, and that’s okay. Give it a try.

Akua's avatar

Thanks @jerv. Your comment made me feel old but hopeful lolol.

janbb's avatar

A friend (and former Jelly) is just finishing up an MSW at age 62. He previously did museum and appraisal work. The career programs you mention are very likely offered at a local community college. It is do-able.

tedibear's avatar

I went back to school at about 42 for a diploma in Pastry Arts. In terms of my career choice it may not have been the wisest idea, but there is nothing wrong with going back to school later in life. In fact, I also went back to school at age 30 and got an associate’s degree in business – with accounting as my major. If you can afford, I say go!

As for math, I think that in nursing and other health fields you need to be good through percentages and fractions. (Conversions, etc.) However, I am not in the medical field and can say that with 100% accuracy. I would think that you would probably have to go through a basic algebra course if nothing else. Don’t let that scare you! Most colleges have tutoring programs. And you have Fluther! (As long as you tell us that it’s homework!!!)

CaptainHarley's avatar

Yes, several times!

Akua's avatar

@janbb your right! As a matter of fact the school I’m eyeing is a community college close to where I live. @tedibear I’m 42 now and although I can’t say I can “afford” to go, I have called the school to get information about the program and I may be eligible for financial aid and yes they offer free tutoring and counseling. Thanks for reminding me that I have a fluther family too, that really made me smile. I admire the people on here who are so intelligent and/or have gone back to school. I think you have to be brave to do that. I’m working up to it.

josie's avatar

Why the lack of confidence? That problem is often imaginary. Get over it :)

DaphneT's avatar

You won’t know if it suits you until you try it out, so go for it. It is necessary that you add and subtract correctly, divide and multiply as well, but anything more complex doesn’t sound necessary for most medical positions. Unless you’re thinking of the research portion.

Go for it, you’ll succeed.

marinelife's avatar

Go for it. You can change careers. Both my husband and I did, and we are both much happier.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I had to change careers. I got burned out to the point of TSD dealing with injured people in the EMS system. Had to make a complete break from that job. I loved that job but it was slowly killing me towards the end.

gailcalled's avatar

My brother-in-law was a general contractor and built houses until his body said, “Stop.”

Then he became an internationally known and respected expert in buying and selling 19th century American Hudson River and Luminist paintings. He was probably just about 42 when he changed careers.

Take one course and see what you think. Thousands of people have careers in health care with lousy math skills. My physical therapist has her own practice, which is mobbed, and she teaches at SUNY in Albany. She scraped by in her required statistics course and now has a computer, calculator and CPA.

jerv's avatar

@Akua I’m nearing 40 myself, so I’m not that far behind you!

trailsillustrated's avatar

haha.. I am a dentist, I have a doctorate, and I haven’t worked in ten years. I am going to do to something totally different, I have an almost savant ability with pattern and colour. How did I change? It’s not a good story. What will I do? we shall see? Am I afraid? NO!! ps. I am 50!

Akua's avatar

@josie I hear what your saying and your right, I do need to get over it. I’ve just not ever been confident in my abilities and I have a lot of anxiety surrounding math. My low self-esteem has kept me from doing a lot but I’m working it out in therapy.

Akua's avatar

Wow reading some of the responses here gives me a lot of hope (and courage!). Hmm… I called the local community college and the fall semester begins in August. Like @gailcalled mentioned, I just may take one or two classes and see how I like it. It couldn’t hurt right?

gailcalled's avatar

@Akua: Can you pay bills, keep a budget, figure out your gas mileage, check your total at the supermarket, understand your tax forms, and add a tip to the fee at the hair salon? That’s math.


Akua's avatar

@gailcalled Damn right I can!

gailcalled's avatar

@Akua: There you are (or “There you’re,” if you prefer).

CaptainHarley's avatar


I taught myself to think that “if another human being has done it, then so can I” ( as long as it doesn’t involve math! ) : ))

tedibear's avatar


pieceofapuzzle's avatar

Quick background:
When I was in middle school my parents were unable to help me with algebra because they had forgotten everything they had learned about it. Needless to say I struggled with it and ended up dreading it.

Fast forward to my mid 30’s- my son’s middle school years.
He was taking pre-algebra and I decided that I would re-take algebra so that I could help my son with his homework. I discovered that since my motivation for learning algebra was to help my son it became really important for me to understand it and I ended up loving math.
The point is, you are never too old to learn something new- you just have to find the motivation.

Akua's avatar

Thank you @pieceofapuzzle . That makes a lot of sense and as I get older I find that my motivation for more education is a lot stronger. Hubby has offered to give me money so I can take 1–2 classes in the fall at the local Community College. I’m just trying to get my foot in the door and see what classes I find interesting and maybe get some free math tutoring. If all goes well, I’ll have an idea of what field I can major in by next spring semester. Thanks to everyone here for the big support. Because of you guys and hubby I do feel like I can do anything.

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