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Changing Your Career Later in Life Works

OntheClockMany of us who have been in the workforce for decades are faced with a dilemma later in life: We may want (or need) to continue to work, but the opportunities in our area of expertise are limited. In some cases, it is because our field has changed; in others, it is because employers are less likely to retain experienced and expensive professionals. As a result, some boomers make the disconcerting decision to change careers.

The good news is that changing your career later in life generally works, according to the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER).  In their 2015 research study, "New Careers for Older Workers," AIER reports:

  • "Out of the older adults who are trying to change careers, most are successful."
  • "The majority of successful career changers report that the move has made them happier."
  • "Many successful career changers report that the change increased their income."
  • "Transferable skills are among the most important factors in successfully changing careers."

AIER surveyed adults age 47 and older. To qualify for the survey, adults had to have attempted a career change after the age of 45. The respondents were fairly evenly split between male (52%) and female (48%) and age group: 30% age 47 to 57, 33% age 58 to 64, and 37% age 65 or older.

The survey found that anywhere from 16 million to 29 million people attempt a career change after the age of 45, and 82 percent of these career changers are successful. These statistics hold true regardless of occupation. However, the survey did find that "respondents who report that they were unsuccessful in their career change were in their prior jobs longer than successful respondents, and they report spending more time job searching." According to the survey, the "overwhelming majority (90 percent) of career changers say the move was a success and report being happy or very happy (87 percent) after the career change." Half of the career changers "saw an increase in pay over time."

The survey results should give those of us who are contemplating career changes later in life some cause for optimism.

For some Boomers, changing careers means starting their own business. Read how one couple worked together to start a service business in the new book, Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couple's Guide to Starting a Service Business. 



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