Is there a maximum age to change careers?
We’ve all been raised on the premise that there is a certain order to life. You go to school, you get good grades, you find a good job and you rise through the ranks.
Our baby-boomer parents have taught us that we should do as they did, and enjoy long careers in a single sector – or even better: stay in a single company for over 20 years, like 40% of baby-boomer Americans.
There are just two issues here:
- These kinds of careers don’t really exist anymore – the average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- You may not want this career path, where you’re doing something you may not like that much for over 40 years…
Related: Why the 9-5 Concept is Bonkers – and Why I Quit My Career
Now’s the time to follow your passion
As you know, I quit my engineering career because I didn’t really like it all that much. I’ve instead decided to start my own business doing something that I really love: writing about money and entrepreneurship, and helping my readers (the Freedom Seekers!) to improve their lives!
Of course, I got plenty of resistance from people around me – and from the little voice inside my head that tells me I’m not good enough!
I thought that changing careers when I was nearing 30 wasn’t the best idea, as it went against everything that I had been taught about employment and society.
I felt like I was expected to be at a certain place by a certain age. You ever feel that way?
Like, by the age of 25 you should have an amazing job with a pension scheme, at 30 you should own a house and be married, and at 35 you should definitely have a few kids!
You know what I say to this?
Everyone’s different, and we all follow different paths in life. Stop trying to fit in so much. If something makes you happy you should do it!
Changing careers at 30 and after – bad idea?
Let’s revisit my earlier question: Is there a maximum age to change careers?
It’s never, ever, ever too late – especially not in your 30s! You’re only like, a third of the way through your life – imagine the decades of regret if you hadn’t even tried to do what you wanted to do!
8 Famous People who Changed Careers in their 30s
So, to give you a little motivation, I’m going to present 8 celebrities who changed careers at 30 and after. These are all people who made it big in their new careers.
If they could do it, why can’t you? 😉
After a 6 year career in the NFL, Crews moved to Los Angeles in 1997 to pursue an acting career. His first acting role came in 2000, at the age of 32.
Now he’s a pretty recognisable actor, featuring in the Expendables movie series, as well as some hilarious TV shows and adverts. Plus, he’s a PC gamer, so I have a soft spot for him!
Martha may now be one of the most recognisable faces in America (and even worldwide), but she didn’t find her ideal career until she was 35. That’s when she started her own catering business which evolved into the empire she now owns.
She actually started in pretty different careers, the first being modelling and the latter being – you’ll never guess this – a stockbroker!
After Jeff left college he started working as a computer scientist in Wall Street. He then had several other jobs until, at the age of 30, he started a company that would sell books over the internet.
The company was called Amazon and it’s now one of the 50 biggest companies in the world.
You may have heard of it.
I love Arnold’s career – if he set his mind to something he would become the best at it.
Bodybuilding? He is often regarded as the best bodybuilder of all time.
Acting? He was, at one point, the highest paid actor in Hollywood – and he wasn’t even a good one! He dropped bodybuilding for the silver screen at the age of 33, when he landed the role of Conan the Barbarian.
Politics? He didn’t settle at 2 careers – he wanted more! So he became the
Governator Governor of California in 2003.
Fun fact – I just found this out as I was doing the research for this article:
Did you know that one of Arnold’s opponents to the Governor of California race in 2003 was Arianna Huffington? After being an author and then a politician, she started the wildly successful Huffington Post in 2005, at the age of 55.
How’s that for a career change after 30?!
Nowadays she is well known for having co-founded HTC, but she only started the company at the age of 39. While she dipped her toes in entrepreneurship years before that, she was a regular employee at her sister’s company until the age of 29.
Harrison Ford’s career diversity is amazing.
He was a carpenter for years, which he did to support his family while he found good enough roles. Now I’m no expert, but working wood and acting must have very few transferrable skills!
His first main role in American Graffiti, which catapulted his acting career, was in 1973 when he was 31 years old. He’s done OK since then. 😛
The founder of the giant Alibaba hadn’t even used a computer until he was 33 years old!
He actually had a hard time finding employment for ages – this is what he said about that time:
“I even went to KFC when it came to my city. Twenty-four people went for the job. Twenty-three were accepted. I was the only guy that wasn’t…”
In 1999, at the age of 35, he founded Alibaba, which has now made him a $22B fortune. Not bad for a KFC reject!
Joanne Rowling was a teacher in Portugal for years and only wrote in her spare time. After a short-lived marriage, she found herself to be unemployed and with a little daughter.
She saw herself as a failure.
Like in many other stories, she rose from her proverbial ashes and kept going until she made it.
At the age of 30, she published the first Harry Potter book. She was OK after that! 😉
Now it’s your turn
As you can see, it’s never too late to change.
I think it’s important to get away from the idea that you can only be one thing in your life. Hey, if it takes 10 years to become an expert at anything, that means you can start a new career every decade!
Here’s what I want you to do now:
1 – Sign up below for my guide that’ll show you how to quit your 9-5 job and start your passion-fuelled business – even if you’re over 30 😉
Alexis @FITnancials says
I think it’s insanity that someone denied J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book. Someone else (obviously) decided to be the publisher.
Also, most of us don’t even know what we want to do with our lives, especially right outside of high school. I think it’s silly that we put so much pressure on high school students to start college immediately, when most of them will end up changing their majors a few times.
Mrs. Groovy says
The Jack Ma story is incredible. The one person out of 24 who did not get hired by KFC. Did he have trouble with the fry basket? And he founded Alibaba even though he didn’t learn to use a computer until he was 33. Amazing. Thanks for sharing.
My dad is one of those guys with 32 years at one company (even though the company was bought & sold and renamed at least 5 times). Until they changed management the last time and he was handed a retirement package. It is generous in that in included healthcare. He has saved and invested, and while he casually looked for consulting work, he hasn’t had a job since. Instead he’s on committees and boards at my old high school, his alma mater (college), at his beach place, and his church.
I definitely felt the pressure in my late 20s about getting married so we could start to have kids. Then, that long relationship ended. Finding self acceptance that my life doesn’t have to be like anyone else and it can still be fulfilling and amazing took a while, but I got there. 🙂
I think the ‘working world ‘ is so much different from our parents generation. Between layoffs, or temp jobs, I’ve worked at 7 different companies (some of which changed names while I was there, or after). The last place I worked wasn’t a good fit on the ‘soft’ side of work, I was technically proficient, but I got a new manager who wanted his buddies to work with him, he managed to get my equivalent coworker out, and I knew I was next. It led to a bit of a mid-career-life crisis. I’m not good at playing office politics, and maybe I’d made a mistake in choosing this career in the first place. All of the self doubt!! Because it was the field I had experience in, I continued to look for jobs and found one in a different section of the field. My managers are amazing, and not big on the office politics either. This job is a great fit, and uses my past experience plus my other skills. If I hadn’t found this…who knows! What’s great, is this type of role, more then the last, could be transitioned to a consulting role in the future, as I get closer to FI.
I have a friend in the same industry and she also hit that point of ‘this isn’t working!’ And opened a cupcake shop. She had a really good product, but her business partner was the problem. The partner got the store location, and it was set back in a shopping center, you had to know it was there, which meant no foot traffic. Then she wasn’t honest about her cake decorating skills for the cake orders they took on, and was out sourcing to ‘professionals ‘ after hours, eating into the profit per cake! My friend developed ‘tennis elbow’ from mixing etc. In the end she closed the shop, and went back to the field she was in before. In a way being out of it gave her a break (full of a different stress), and she had a different mindset when she job searched, and seems happier.
This is a great list of celebrities who successfully changed careers! I knew about Harrison Ford but not many of the others specifically. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Troy @ Market History says
This just shows that it’s never too late to turn over a new leaf in your life. However, I would say that it’s harder to start one’s own business when he/she is 30something or 40something.
The moment you have kids and a family, a lot of options are restricted. Single guys can put all their money into their business and live on ramen. They can dedicate their all to the business. People with families can’t do that, which limits their business opportunities.
Irbille T donia says
Thank you for sharing. I am currently in that midlife/career whirlpool and undertaking. I just began courses in Real Estate. I have been in the food industry going on 12 years. I am currently 37 turning 38 in a couple months. I have been teetering on the thought of making a change. Times are rough with the new modern under the virus but its given me time to think and find clarity to enable me to move. I felt a spur to look up stories to see what experiences others have gone through. I definitely still have thoughts of doubt but am searching for positive reinforcement and these stories have given me the juice to keep marching forward and allow myself to achieve my dreams still. The path is just changing but the dream is still there. Thank you for sharing this with me.