How to retrain for a new career in your 40s

Over 40 and looking for a new direction? There’s good news – your forties are a great time to retrain for a new career. At this age, many of us have lost the passion for our existing role, or are seeking a job with better work-life balance that gives us more time with our children. Thousands of us retrain for a new career in middle age and make a great success of it. If it’s something you’re considering, read on!

How to retrain


What is retraining?

Retraining covers a lot of different options, depending on the role that you’re interested in. It could mean studying for a university degree – if you want to be a teacher or a nurse, or example. Or it could be a vocational course such as pet grooming, plumbing or photography.

For some jobs, you won’t need formal training but will have to gain work experience in a new field. Perhaps you want to move from office work to gardening – your training could come through volunteering to work with an established gardener for free or a token wage.

In addition, since the rules around apprenticeships changed there are opportunities for older people to learn a new trade as an apprentice. Find out more at the Government website.

What will it cost?

Again, the cost depends on your chosen field. Studying for a degree or post graduate qualification, for example, involves tuition fees; but there may be funding options to help you with the cost.

Different colleges and universities will have different fees depending on the course, so it’s worth taking some time to examine the options.

Vocational courses also vary in their fees. Visit websites for your nearest colleges to explore what they have to offer.

What are the benefits?

The benefits are pretty simple – with luck you’ll discover a new career that you love, and/or achieve the right balance with your home life.

Retraining isn’t without risk, though. You need to be confident that the new career move is the right one for you and that you can comfortably afford any fees – as well as potentially being out of work for a while while you retrain.

What to consider

The first and most important consideration is what you want to get from the new career direction. What’s missing in your current role? What do you want to get out of your new career: to feel that you’re making a difference, to inspire the younger generation, or to do something more creative?

Think too about the parts of your previous role that you did enjoy: mentoring others, working with customers, meeting new people… How can you build on these skills in a new job?

Once you’ve identified the kind of career you want to pursue, it’s a question of researching the best route to get into it.

Finding opportunities

If you don’t have a dream job in mind, you can still explore new retraining opportunities – they could give you the inspiration you need. You could start with your current employer: most companies are keen to keep good people and actively encourage people to move around the organisation. Speak to your manager about your thoughts and get them to put you in touch with relevant departments.

You might also find inspiration from sites like workingmums – look at the job roles on offer and franchising opportunities: many of which include training as part of the package.

Don’t look back!

If your heart is set on a change, go for it. Like most of the risky decisions in life, you’re more likely to regret NOT taking the plunge when the time feels right. Seek support from friends, family and colleagues, do your research and go for it. Good luck!

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