Tips for Making a Mid-Life Career Change

For many people in middle age, a change in career is necessary to stay employed and make the most of your time in the workforce

By Jaime Weinstein
Posted 2012

Midlife Career Change Tips
Midlife Career Change Tips

Thanks to today’s tumultuous economy, the days of staying at one job for your entire career are fading fast. And the idea of keeping the same career for your entire life is also slipping away.

However, this may not be such a bad thing. Today many professionals, especially those in the Baby Boomer generation, are seeking new career paths that provide better fulfillment and economic security. They are also returning to school, even if for a short time, to receive training for this new path.

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Why is this happening? Simply put, many in the boomer generation are not financially where they thought they’d be a decade or so outside of what should be their retirement years. This is partly due to the shaky employment environment coupled with the rapid decline of home values. They may also have faced one if not multiple layoffs throughout their career.

In 2011 the Washington Post ran an article citing The Associated poll, which ran an alarming set of statistics regarding the Baby Boomer generation and how they felt about their economic future:

  • 44% expressed small confidence as to whether they would have enough saved by the time their careers end.
  • 1 in 4 who are still working say they will never retire.
  • 25% of those polled said they do not plan on retiring ever.

Even Gen-Xers are sharing similar sentiments. A recent Forbes article showed that 82% of Gen Xers agreed they will be working into their 70s. And 77% of their Baby Boomer counterparts responded they believed they would be working into their 70s, too.

Results like the ones above are some of the main reasons why colleges and universities across the country are creating professional programs to help already educated and/or skilled workers make a transition into a new field, which is being referred to as an Encore Career.

Embracing the Change

Academic facilities creating and ramping up their extension programs are helping professionals in search of how to change careers find something new and long lasting. The great thing about these programs is that an increasing number of them are being offered online as well.

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The first on the scene to specifically cater to the baby boomer generation is UCLA whose division for continuing and professional education recently partnered up with the Encore Career Institute (ECI). Courses will be offered on an iPad and the program is trying to get students to embrace technology as much as possible to keep their skills viable in the competitive workforce.

From the ECI and UCLA partnership, you can expect to find programs in areas such as:

  • Patient advocacy - a liaison of sorts who helps patients navigate the healthcare system
  • Sustainability – the need for trained professionals who can help companies go green and stay that way is rapidly increasing  
  • College counseling – a private individual who either works through a company or is hired on their own by an individual to help them find the best academic program suited to their needs

Other Encore Career Possibilities

Healthcare and green-industry jobs are two of the fastest growing sectors today. Many community colleges are helping meet that need by offering streamlined certificate programs geared toward transitioning professionals looking to complete training in under a year.

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But if these programs aren’t of interest to you, the AARP’s website is jam-packed with career change tips and ways to go about getting started. If healthcare isn’t your thing, here’s a sample of some jobs they suggest for your encore career:

  • Self-enrichment education teacher
  • Preschool or daycare teacher
  • Bank teller
  • Loan officer
  • Realty

Other resources you can use to help find a new direction for your career are and Both websites offer career assessment tools that can be helpful.

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