Making a mid-life career change is a little tougher because of family and financial commitments. But, with the right amount of preparation, you can shift gears and do what you love. Here are some tips that will help you figure out how to change careers:
Know this is what you want. If you are simply bored with your job, then a career change might not be right for you. Unhappiness with your job should not be the primary motivator for a career change. Instead, you should want to pursue a dream that you have had for a long time.
Take classes. Start learning more about your new field to make sure you still enjoy it. Even better, find out if your current employer will cover the costs of your classes. You may be able to make a career change within your current company.
Start moonlighting. Try a part-time job or an internship that will get your foot in the door. Not only will you gain experience, but you will also save up more money for when you make the big change.
Save up with a 529 plan. 529 plans aren't just for your child's education. In a 529 plan, your contributions can grow tax-deferred. Then, when you are ready to go to school, you can use it tax free.
Prepare a cushion. Beyond the 529 plan, you should have between three to six months' worth of living expenses saved for emergencies. In fact, you may want to have more since it will take longer to find a job, and you probably won't make as much as you used to since you are starting fresh.
Share your plans with your family. Whether or not your kids are still at home or in college, they should know of your plans because it will likely have an impact on your finances. Make sure your spouse agrees or is willing to sacrifice along with you so you can meet your goal.
Join associations and attend conventions. As with any career, getting your name out there is a huge help. You will become familiar with the major players in your new field and might make some important new friends.
Be patient. Anyone changing careers in mid-life might think there isn't much time and that the career change options are limited. But there is no need to rush it. You need to lay the right intellectual and financial groundwork before trying a new career, and taking classes and building connections to new employers will take a while.
A career change can be liberating. However, it can also be expensive once you factor in a potentially lower income and the cost of going back to school. Yet not all career changes have to involve classes.
Check out our career change guide to learn if a career change is right for you.