7 Great Second Careers If You're Over 40

By Susan Ricker

You're too young for retirement, too experienced for entry-level positions and too fed up with your job to stay any longer. Have you considered starting a second career? Beginning a new profession can be an exciting way to change how you feel about your work life, and the shifting economy offers more opportunities for change than you might think. Whether you've never before thought of switching careers, or if it's been a recurring dream of yours, here are some ideas for getting started.
Create An 'Open Ideas' List

If you're ready to leave your first career behind and move on to what's next in life, it's time to ask what's next. Keep a running list of ideas for your future -- hobbies you enjoy, your areas of expertise, business ideas you've previously passed on, childhood dreams. This list can include every pipedream you've had. Then, narrow it down to what interests you most, what you can make happen and what you want to learn more about. Try out different fields by volunteering, taking classes and talking to those who have the position you want. Transitioning successfully to a second career depends on how much research and preparation you can do to ensure it'll be the right fit.

Use Economic Advantages

Making a career switch can be intimidating at any point in life, but a tepid economy and family responsibilities can hinder even the biggest risk-takers. Rather than starting off on your own, take advantage of newly created roles that are growing in demand. CareerBuilder's midyear job forecast shared hopeful news for job seekers and career changers. More employers are reporting that, within their organizations, new jobs are emerging that didn't exist five years ago, including positions tied to:
Employers are hiring in large numbers in some key areas, including those impacting revenue and innovation. To gain experience before launching an independent career, here are some areas where employers are hiring first:
  • Customer service
  • Information technology
  • Sales
  • Administrative
  • Business development
  • Accounting/finance
  • Marketing

Consider Secure Jobs

Still not convinced there's a second career in your future? "150 Best Jobs for a Secure Future" author Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D., shares a variety of secure-job lists based on different demographics. Switching careers during economic uncertainty is actually more common and practical than it may seem. "People tend to lose recession-sensitive jobs when economic downturns strike and the jobs they find during those hard times tend to be available because they're secure," Shatkin says.

Among Shatkin's many lists of secure jobs, here are seven examples of the best secure jobs with a high percentage of mature workers:

1. Athletic trainers*
  • Growth between 2010-20: 30 percent (much faster than average)
  • Median annual salary: $41,600

2. Clinical, counseling and other school psychologists
  • Growth between 2010-20: 22 percent (faster than average)
  • Median annual salary: $68,640

3. Instructional coordinators
  • Growth between 2010-20: 20 percent (faster than average)
  • Median annual salary: $58,830

4. Interpreters and translators
  • Growth between 2010-20: 42 percent (much faster than average)
  • Median annual salary: $43,300

5. Management analysts
  • Growth between 2010-20: 22 percent (faster than average)
  • Median annual salary: $78,160

6. Occupational therapy assistants
  • Growth between 2010-20: 33 percent (much faster than average)
  • Median annual salary: $72,320

7. Technical writers
  • Growth between 2010-20: 17 percent (about as fast as average)
  • Median annual salary: $68,280

*All median annual salary figures and growth percentages are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How to Effectively Make a Career Change

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There is always a truck driving job. The health industry has it's own messes. I have driven a truck and been a nurse and I would take driving a truck any day (except there is now more regulation for truck drivers). I am now back at nursing again (not by choice) and dealing with the silly system is mind numbing.

September 08 2013 at 5:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to TT's comment

why did you stop driving?

October 01 2015 at 10:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A great idea for a career change is helping Baby Boomers who are about to turn 65 by explaining how Medicare works and explaining their Medicare coverage options. There are 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day for the next 17 years! About 6 months before they turn 65, they start to get bombarded by tons and tons of stuff in the mail regarding their upcoming Medicare coverage. They get confused and frustrated by the whole thing, and they need help! This type of career requires that you get insurance licensed, but it pays great and provides residual income. Check out this blog that explains this opportunity in more detail: www.BeAMedicarePro.blogspot.com.

May 10 2013 at 11:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Martha B

Excellent Article and just what many of us need.
I found at the age of 49 that I was too over-qualified for any of the jobs available. I also decided to go down the route of setting up an internet based business which allows me to work from home as well as being my own boss. Most of all, while using all my previous experience, I am being challenged to learn new approaches.
Just a thought for your readers - never give up, there are always opportunities and now more through the global village on the internet!
Best wishes
Martha (The "Boss" at Business-online-learning.com)

February 23 2013 at 4:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Finding your self economically unviable due too age discrimination is very real. Speaking as a recovering work aholic who has always been a productive member of the working class. I even trained many new hires half my age over the years." Some people such as our US military may say that i am too darn old after the age of 37... Hey is'nt that age discrimination at it's finest ???

July 24 2012 at 12:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Most employers do not want older workers bevcause they do or will want benefits. Better to hire twenty somethings who will move on before they are eligible for anything. Older employees are interesed in healthcare and retirement so they will not leave. Places like Wal-Mart like older employees because they will work part-time, minimum wage for extre income, but have benefits from the gov't or a previous employer.

July 24 2012 at 11:55 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I love it when someone writes an article about great jobs for the aging population. They obviously have not one foot in the real world. All of those jobs require training and past experience. the only options I see - minimum wage sales job somewhere or find a niche for your own business. Messenger service, decorating, babysitting (pays more in bigger cities), organizer, and yes, real estate agent. Homes are starting to sell again, so if you can swing the licensing and fees, it is definitely a field where what you put into it, comes back to you.

July 24 2012 at 10:51 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

The salary listed for Occupational Therapy Assistant is wrong! That is for an Occupational Therapist position; a 4 year specialized degree. OT Assistants average about $37,000/year. I work in this field but went to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (source sited in article) to double check. Both fields are in demand and growing.

July 24 2012 at 10:49 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Son is 45, out of work for over 2 years. Had worked in the IT field, government sales but got laid off.
He is going through the same stuff...over qualified, too old...out of work too long... It is so apparent that employers are looking for young, fresh out of school who will take any kind of salary.
Our son finally landed a job at Home Depot at 8.00 hr. wow...but it is a job. He soley supports his 3 kids as he won full custody, and he is struggling but he is thankful for this job. Hopefully it will expand into something.

July 24 2012 at 10:06 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

All BS about age discrimination anyone over age 40. Several years' ago when unemployed, I could go to a retail store and apply in person and secure a job; now one must apply online. I do not look my age, but when the employer sees your year of HS or College graduation, or name check you do not get that position. This is legal.
Sure you cannot post me...you know this to be true.

July 24 2012 at 9:23 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Well, I can assure you that there’re multiple firms across the globe that are—at this very moment—hard at work at developing software to ‘automate’ numbers 3, 4, 5, and 7.

If you’re 40+ and recently unemployed, your best bet is to go it alone. That is, develop a means by which to generate income for yourself without relying on some corporation to do so.

Start your own small business, perhaps, in some niche market doing something that you like and are very good at. Maybe partner up with other highly experienced but unemployed middle-aged persons and start your own firm.

And start learning to keep your lifestyle overhead down:

Learn to garden (grow as much of your own food as realistically possible)

If possible, invest in an ultra-fuel-efficient vehicle (electric/battery fueled)

If possible, refit your home with as much ‘off the grid’ technology as possible (solar, wood-fueled, insulation technologies, sunken-pipe heat sources, wind turbines, etc.) However far you are willing and able to take it.

Eat healthier; healthy food (i.e. real food) is more expensive to purchase, but it’s been my experience that it’s cheaper than consuming lots of less expensive “food-like substances” because your nutritive requirements are actually met by the real food and you are subsequently less hungry less frequently—you eat less. This will definitely have a positive effect on your long-term medical expenses, as well.

In short, reduce your cost of living and become as self-sufficient as possible. By reducing your costs and creating a means by which you, yourself, can meet, and preferably exceed, those costs…you just might be okay, after all.

July 23 2012 at 5:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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