13 career change ideas for the over 50s

If you want to change careers in your 50s, the world is your oyster. Instead of winding down towards retirement, more people than ever before are looking to change direction.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, employment rates for the working-age 50 to 64 grew from 55.8% in 1984 to 72% in 2020. Our data analysis from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) also showed that in 2018, 82% of the UK’s employment growth was fuelled by the over 50s. And while the recent pandemic has made the job market more competitive, there are still lots of opportunities out there.

People over 50 are an attractive option to employers for a number of reasons. They possess lots of useful experience, have a strong work ethic, and are organised, efficient, and confident. They also tend to remain in their jobs for longer than younger employees, and as a result, retain much needed corporate knowledge.

Being 50 or over can be a great age to choose a new career. You have lots of skills and experience and the agility of mind to learn new things. While many people are happily settled in their careers, others may want to change theirs for a variety of reasons, such as:

13 ideas for alternative careers after the age of 50

Whether you’re yearning for a brand-new challenge, facing the prospect of redundancy, or simply looking for a more rewarding job, here are some ideas for a new career path in your 50s. Whatever your experience or qualifications, there are a range of interesting opportunities out there for you.

1. Teacher

teacher in classroom with children

Put your knowledge of a particular industry to fantastic use by turning to teaching. There are a growing number of people in their 50s and 60s going back to retrain as Teachers. You could be a regular Teacher, Supply Teacher, offer private tuition, or even give classes at adult education colleges. Teaching is a fulfilling job where you can draw on your experience and expertise to inspire others and connect with the younger generation. Right now, there are openings across the education sphere in all sorts of subjects.

People retrain to become Teachers in a number of different ways; some prefer to complete a degree to achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), while others prefer to take a more vocational approach, or a school-led route. For example, Now Teach offer specialised training programmes for people who want to retrain as teachers later in life (and don’t necessarily have a degree). The programme is designed to respect and understand the leap of faith that people take when they consider starting a teaching degree later in life and will help you achieve QTS.

If you don’t like the idea of having to formally retrain to achieve QTS, then you may want to consider becoming a Teaching Assistant instead. Nothing brings back your sense of youth more than working with children, especially in that golden primary school age.

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2. Driving Instructor

If you’re calm and confident behind the wheel and you’d love to help give others the gift of driving, then why not retrain as a Driving Instructor? You’d get to help people of all ages develop skills and confidence in the car. Some will have never sat in the driver’s seat before, while others may have passed their test but want to refresh their skills. Each student will be on their own unique journey and you’ll be the one to help them get there safely.

If you’re interested in working in this highly rewarding role, then it’s worth visiting our career change guide for detailed information on how to get started.

3. Tradesperson 

Learn a trade

Skilled Tradespeople are always in high demand, and apprenticeships and training programmes for the older generation are supported by the government. Among the many options are carpenters, electricians, stonemasons, painter decorators, plumbers, and roofers.

4. Retail roles 

retail shop

If you’re good with people and like to keep busy, then you might like to consider a job in retail. It can be a great way of keeping socially connected in your community and staying physically active. If you don’t want to work on the shop floor, there are numerous management and administration positions that might suit you better.

5. Pet Sitter

pet sitter - beware of dog

Turn your love of animals into a rewarding job as a part-time or full-time Pet Sitter. Not only will you be your own boss but – provided you’ve got lots of energy and a passion for animals – you’ll have a great time in this role. Among the responsibilities of pet sitters are feeding, dog walking, and taking animals to and from the vets.

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6. Virtual Assistant

work from home

Wave goodbye to the relentless grind of a 9-to-5 job and the infernal rush-hour commute by becoming a Virtual Assistant. Becoming a Virtual Assistant is a great chance to earn a good income without leaving your home. A Virtual Assistant (or VA) is someone who provides administrative support to companies, entrepreneurs, and anyone who needs help with routine tasks. You can work from the comfort of your sofa, kitchen table, or anywhere provided you have a computer and a good internet connection.

If you want to start networking and meeting clients, then the best way to get started is to join websites for freelancers, such as Fiverr or People per Hour. On these sites, you can list yourself as a Virtual Assistant and start applying for jobs. Some people will need help with one-off tasks, while others may need help with ongoing projects or may be able to offer more regular work. 

7. Life Coach/Mentor

hr courses

Among the options you have when considering a career change is to become a Life Coach or Mentor. For this type of role, it’s useful to have a deep well of life and work experience to draw from which can be passed onto others. In short, a Life Coach advises people on how they can change their lifestyle in order to be happier.

While you don’t need any formal qualifications to be a Life Coach or Mentor, it’s a good idea to study for industry-specific qualifications in your chosen field. By doing this, you’ll come across as more credible to your clients and it’ll help boost your confidence and competence when you start out. Among the types of mentoring jobs are a Life Coach, a Business Coach, and a Mentor to young people/students.

If you’re interested in becoming a Life Coach, the New Skills Academy course below provides a great introduction.

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8. Carer

carer in cafe

This is a job where you can really make a difference in someone’s life. As a live-in or visiting Carer, you’ll be helping people to have a better quality of life, one that’s happier and more enriched.

Examples of careers in social care are Personal Carers, Care Home Managers, Occupational Therapists, and Bereavement Support Coordinators.

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9. Sales roles 


If you’re smart and dynamic, skilled at the art of persuasion, can make good presentations, and like a challenge, then a new career in sales could be for you. Among the job options available are anything from a Telesales Assistant to an Account Executive or Sales Director.

10. Volunteer

Jobs with Care UK

Volunteering is a gift that keeps on giving, providing individuals with an enhanced sense of purpose and new skills, all while they help worthwhile causes and people in need.

Many organisations and projects need Volunteers all the time, from local charity shops to international aid organisations. Volunteering can also help you to transition to a new job by giving you new skills and experiences that will enrich your CV.

11. Jobs in government

Work in Government

You may not be considering a run for public office, but you can channel your interest in the public sector by looking for government jobs. Local government organisations and the civil service welcome applications from mature people.

Careers in government span a wide range of roles, including Planning Officers, Building Control Officers, administration roles, and Environmental Health Officers. The sense of perspective that experience brings can be particularly helpful in social and civic roles.

12. Childcare

Perhaps you’re interested in becoming a Nanny or a Childminder?

If you love being around children and like the idea of working flexible hours, then a role in childcare could be just what you’ve been looking for. In a childcare role, you’ll usually care for and support children in a range of different ways – from helping with homework to cooking dinner – whilst their parent(s) or carer(s) are away or at work. 

As a Childminder, you’ll typically look after children in your own home as parents will drop off and pick up children at agreed times. You don’t need any academic qualifications to get started, but you will need to have a clean Ofsted DBS certificate and a full UK driving licence. The best way to build up a client base is to visit websites like Childcare.co.uk, where you can advertise yourself as a Childminder or Babysitter so that local families can get in touch if they need your services.

Nannies tend to work in children’s homes and will be offered the option to live-in or live-out by the hiring family (sometimes depending on whether the role is full or part-time). For those living in and around London, nanny agency Koru Kids take on Nannies of all ages, offering training (including First Aid) and placing them with a suitable family.

Want to start applying for childcare jobs?

Interested in finding a childcare course?

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13. Funeral Arranger 

If you’re a kind and compassionate person with lot’s of empathy, then it’s worth considering a career as a Funeral Arranger. Careers in funeral care aren’t just about working with the deceased. A large part of the role also involves working closely with families to make sure the funeral reflects their wishes and to offer them emotional support while they’re grieving.

Though the job is often tough, a great deal of reward can also come from being a source of comfort for people during some of the toughest times of their lives. 

Many employers will take on Funeral Arrangers with little or no experience in the industry as long as they have the right attitude. Once you’ve built up significant experience as a Funeral Arranger, you can consider applying for a role as a Funeral Director.

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How to get started

Before you get started on your new adventure, you need to make a plan. Here are a few suggestions to help you focus your mind:

The excitement of something new

Whatever the reason behind your change in direction, you have a wonderful opportunity to embrace something new and exciting. With many active years ahead of you, it’s never too late to find a rewarding new career.

Many of the skills you have acquired in previous positions will be transferable but if there are gaps in your knowledge, you can always go back to school to obtain a qualification in a field that interests you. And remember you have the experience and maturity that is going to make you a very attractive candidate for prospective employers.

Good luck with your next adventure!

Have you recently made a career change? Or are you thinking about doing so? We’d love to hear from you! Join the conversation over on the Rest Less community forum or leave a comment below.

Career and life coaching

Working with a career or life coach can help to give you a fresh perspective and impetus when thinking about making a change in your life. A coach can help to work through what you want from life and support you in plotting a path forward to setting and achieving your goals.

We’ve partnered with a select number of coaches, covering a range of disciplines, and for all budgets. Take a look to see if you can find the perfect coach for you…

Find a coach

Personal Review Service

If you don’t want to make a commitment to a career or life coach, but you still want help want in advancing in your professional and/or personal life, then you might be interested in PRISM. PRISM is a powerful tool based on neuroscience that’s designed to help you gain a greater awareness of yourself and unlock your hidden potential.

Find out more about PRISM

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