How to make a career change at 40

Looking for a new career in your 40’s?

The desire to change careers could come at any time in your life, no matter how old you are.. However, starting a new career at 40 can seem daunting – especially if you’re stepping out of your comfort zone after many years in a different sector. But even if it isn’t directly related to the role, your experience also means you have valuable transferable skills that any employer will welcome into their company. 

We’ve already covered how to find a new job, but here’s what you need to know to make a career change at 40: 


Can I switch careers at 40?

The simple answer is ABSOLUTELY. And, if you decide to change career at 40, you’ll be in good company – as these well -known public figures (and many more) also had a career shift later in life: 

  • Madeleine Albright (Former US Secretary of State) started her political career at 40 
  • Vera Wang (Fashion Designer) started her fashion career at 40 after working as a journalist 
  • Harland (Colonel) Sanders was a labourer before he bought his first restaurant at 40 and perfected his secret blend of seven herbs and spices
  • Donald Fisher was 40 when he opened his first Gap store with zero experience 

These people prove that you’re never too old to pursue things that make you feel fulfilled. That’s not to say it won’t be daunting or even scart, but with the correct planning, anything is possible. 

Top 5 – Signs it’s time for a career change


What things should you consider? 

Making a career change at 40 isn’t a decision that should ever be taken lightly. 

Before typing up your resignation letter, make a list of questions that need answering to help you understand if now is the right time for a career change or if you’re better off waiting a little longer. Examples of questions you may wish to put on your list include: 

  • What do I like about my current job? 
  • What do I hate about my current job?
  • What makes me happy? 
  • What is the main reason I want to make a career change? E.g., want to earn more money
  • Will I need to retrain for my new career? 
  • Can I afford to retrain? 
  • Can my new career support me financially? 


What career can I do at 40?

The career you want to change to at 40 is up to you, but there are some jobs that benefit from previous long term work experience. These include: 


What is a good degree to get in your 40s?

Not all jobs require you to have a degree, particularly if you have a broad range of soft skills, like communication, time management, etc that can be transferred to your new career. 

However, if the career you’re choosing to switch to does require you to have a degree, be aware that depending on what the subject is, it may take around three or four years to complete. However, many degrees will offer you the option to study part-time, allowing you to fit studying around your current schedule and commitments. 

If you currently have a degree but not in a related subject, it may also be possible to study for a postgraduate degree (e.g., a Master’s) or take a conversion course in the field you want to work in. A full-time postgraduate degree can be completed in one year. 

Retraining: What you need to know


Five tips to change your career at 40

To turn your dream of changing careers at 40 into a reality, here are five of our top tips: 


1. Set career goals 

Career goals are a set of targets that you want to reach that are related to your professional life. Some career goals may be short term, like setting a date for when you want to resign from your current job. And, some will be longer term, for instance, deciding that you want to move into a managerial or leadership position. 

It’s essential to set career goals as they keep you focussed and on track and they also help you to stay motivated on achieving your end goal of starting a new career at 40. 



2. Research jobs that interest you 

Once you’ve decided which sector you want to move into, make a shortlist of jobs within that sector that interest you the most. Our Career Guide section covers a vast number of jobs, exploring what each job involves, its career progression and the skills and qualifications needed to do the job. 

If you can’t find what you’re looking for in our career section, search available jobs and read through the job descriptions to get a feel for what the job involves and the skills employers are looking for. 

Five jobs with excellent career progression



3. Get qualified or accredited 

It may be that the career you want to change to at 40 requires you to have a specific qualification or accreditation. This is often the case if you want to work in education or healthcare. 

If you’re required to have a specific certification, take your time to understand what study options are available. We have thousands of courses available to choose from, so no matter what you want to do or how you want to study, you can find the one that’s right for you. 

20 courses that could help you change careers



4. Refresh your CV 

A career change at 40 is the perfect time for a CV refresh. Why? Well, your current CV may no longer cut it as it covers what you’ve been doing to date, but not the direction you want to go in with your new career choice. 

Your refreshed CV needs to have a strong personal statement that details your desire to work in the sector. It should also focus on the skills you can bring to the role with examples to demonstrate how these skills have benefited previous employers. Nervous about refreshing your CV? Our Career Change CV template is the perfect place to start. 

Career change CV template

Career change cover letter template



5. Reach out to your professional network 

People you’ve worked with past and present, and those you’ve never worked with but who you have a professional relationship with, can be an important asset in helping you change your career at 40. 

Between them, these people have a wealth of experience and knowledge that you should tap into to make your career change a success. So, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask for advice. It could just help you open the door to finding a job you love. 



Still searching for your perfect job at 40? View all available jobs now.