The Fork in the Road: Making a Mid-Life Career Change

When I was growing up I always said I wanted to be a teacher. I had teachers who inspired me to learn and grow and I knew that I wanted to be that same figure providing encouragement for young people. My parents thought differently, however. They felt that I would be frustrated because of the bureaucracy. They believed I was better suited to go into Public Relations, and so I did.  Ironically enough, I ended up working for a municipality in Arizona – it can’t get much more bureaucratic than that!  Luckily for me, though, I did end up as a teacher for a number of years and then even segued into working as a writer and event planner. Many other people also have desires to make a change in their careers later in life and are finding the changes not only rewarding but fulfilling as well.

So, what are the best ways to go about making a change later in life to a career you have always dreamed about? Experts suggest volunteering in some capacity first if possible so that you can get your feet wet in a field that’s likely completely new to you professionally. As with many people who go into a field initially, you might find that the job may not be exactly what you expected. If, after volunteering, you find the area rewarding you can begin to explore opportunities available to you to begin the transition. The best option is to engage a recruiter or career coach to help you find the opportunities in your community. There is less of an age stigma – gone are the days when we are expected to stay at the same company or in the same field for our entire professional lives.   

Companies are beginning to recognize the value of more experienced workers, and those who bring perspectives and skill sets from other types of jobs. Unfortunately this doesn’t always translate into making a lot of money, but for many people transitioning mid-life it is less about the money and more about the experience. 

Many local colleges offer assistance in this type of job placement with career counselors, job boards, and volunteer opportunities. There are also networking groups dedicated solely to placing seasoned workers with local companies. A quick google search in my community brought up choices from AARP, the local community college, a charitable trust and the Ss. Simon and Jude organization in just the top 5 searches. With a bit of digging you likely could find many in your community as well. 

Now that you know that resources are available, how should you determine which area is best for you?  

  • Name your top 5 dream jobs
  • Make a list of your hobbies or interests
  • Make a list of your 5 most valuable skills
  • Take a career aptitude test (  or
  • Call in the pros!  Find a professional who can help you make these determinations and find the perfect fit for you. 

Another opportunity to consider is with an organization called Encore Fellowships. Encore Fellowships is dedicated to redefining later years in life by shifting the focus to new ways to contribute and give back to society. By tapping into years of experience, the movement places veteran workers into organizations and companies that can benefit from their years of experience. It creates a mutually beneficial environment where someone who has a wealth of knowledge and experience can help a less seasoned individual learn the ropes. And moreover, the older worker is exposed to new and innovative ideas and methods that they might not otherwise have experienced. There is a stipend that goes along with the fellowship but many of the participants become involved with the organization just to keep active and to give back to their communities. More information is available at

If you are thinking about making a mid-life career change there is no time like the present!

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