Considering a Career Change later in Life

There has been a lot written about the boomers seeking out new careers and making decisions to seek out greener pastures in alternative professions or trades. We wanted to get some first hand feedback on the greatest motivators to making a career change. And we wanted to get a realistic read on the level of willingness and desire to make such commitments to change. Most of all, though, we were interested in learning about fears, particularly in today’s economy. So we completed a survey of our readership and learned a bit about their take on career change.

First, here are some statistics. Thirty one percent of our respondents are currently employed and a full 66% “enjoy” the work in their current or most recent career. This high rate of satisfaction with their work likely explains the length of time that they have spent in their current or most recent profession. A full 69% have been employed in the same profession or trade for more than 6 years while more than 42% have been employed in the same profession or trade for more than 15 years. How’s that for longevity and commitment?

So, after indicating a relative level of satisfaction with their existing career choice, it was curious to learn that an astounding 87% have considered or are now considering a complete career change.

The reasons for considering career change later in life are numerous and reflective of personal situations. We now have a national unemployment rate of over 9% and some areas of the country are suffering with a much higher rate. The decline in home values and retirement funds and the increased level of uncertainty all play into the equation. The reasons for career change range from job burnout, physical and health changes impacting the ability to do the current job, and boredom and mental stagnation to seeking a career that is more meaningful, learning more and taking on more responsibility, and seeking more work/life balance.

One response that was recurring is most likely a strong indicator of the economic shifts that the US economy has undergone. Manufacturing has been in decline for some time. Construction has suffered throughout the recent recession. And the steady march of technology and process improvements throughout makes some jobs, if not obsolete, stagnant and diminishing in number.

Twenty seven percent are interested in making a change to a career with a future. Respondents indicate that they are looking for careers in growth industries that will most likely have better, longer term opportunities associated with the work. Older workers and job seekers responding to the survey are looking for stability, learning opportunities, and new challenges. Here are some quotes:

“Long term opportunity in my previous field will not grow.”

“I’d like to work in a field that has more of a future and [is] more interesting.”

“Lack of opportunities in current profession.”

“The job that I used to perform is now being done by machines.”

“Plant closure.”

“Limited earning potential for doing what I am currently doing.”

“To avoid the uncertainty inherent with the work I’ve done for the past 20 years.”


More on the results of the survey in a future post.  I’ll report on biggest obstacles and fears.


1 Comment


    I’m doing the career change thing myself (I’m in culinary school). It’s scary, exhilarating, exactly what I thought, not at all what I expected!

    But I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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