12 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. And there are opportunities aplenty. According to the Department for Work and Pensions employment rates for the over 50s grew from 55.8% in 1984 to 71.2% in 2016. Our recent analysis of data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) also showed that last year, 82% of the UK’s employment growth was fuelled by the over 50s.

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. 

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 of you are happily settled in your careers, others may want to change theirs for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • A desire to learn new things
  • To follow their passion
  • To reduce stress levels
  • For a change of pace
  • Are bored with their current career
  • Are facing redundancy
  • To be more satisfied with work

12 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. It is a fulfilling job where you can draw on your experience and expertise to inspire and educate others. There are openings right 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) whilst others prefer to take a more vocational, or 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.


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 have never sat in the driver’s seat before, whilst others may have passed their test but want to refresh their skills. Each student will be on their own unique journey and you will 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. Learn a Trade

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, stone masons, painter decorators, plumbers and roofers.


4. Retail

retail shop

If you’re good with people and like to keep busy, consider a job in retail. Stores and supermarkets are always looking to fill cashier and customer service roles. 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.

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. You’ll be your own boss and provided you’ve got lots of energy, are enthusiastic and love pets, you’re good to go. Among the responsibilities of pet sitters are feeding, dog walking and taking animals to and from the vets.

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. This is a chance to earn a good income without leaving your home. A virtual assistant or VA is someone who provides administration support to companies, entrepreneurs and anyone who needs help with routine tasks. You can work from the comfort of your sofa or kitchen table or from anywhere provided you have a computer and good internet connectivity.

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

7. Life Coach/Mentor

hr courses

Among the options when changing careers is to become a Life Coach or Mentor. You have a deep well of life and work experience to draw from which can be passed onto others. While you don’t need any formal qualifications to be a Life Coach or Mentor, it is a good idea to study for industry-specific qualifications in your chosen field. You’ll come across as more credible to your clients and it will help boost your confidence when you start out. Among the types of mentoring jobs are a life coach, a business coach and a mentor to young people/students.

8. Carer

carer in cafe

This is a job where you can really make a difference to someone’s life. As a live-in or visiting carer, you will 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.

9. Salesperson


If you are smart and dynamic, are 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, through to an account executive or sales director.

10. Volunteering

Jobs with Care UK

Volunteering is a gift that keeps on giving, providing individuals with an enhanced sense of purpose and new skills 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 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 span a wide range of job 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. You’ll usually care for and support children in a range of different areas – from helping with homework, through to cooking dinner – whilst their parent(s) or carer(s) are away or at work. 

As a Childminder, you will typically look after children in your own home – 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 clients is to visit websites like Childcare.co.uk; here 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 may be offered the option to live-in or live-out (sometimes depending on whether it the role is full or part-time) by the hiring family. 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.


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:

  • Determine what you want to do.
  • Find out as much as you can about the industry you want to work in.
  • Understand the financial impact and associated consequences of making any career changes.
  • Speak to people you know with experience in the area you want to move into
  • Identify your strengths and transferable skills.
  • Rewrite your CV to bring out the skills most relevant to your new career path. Get started by taking a look at our CV writing tips.
  • If you’re going after a professional role, create a LinkedIn profile to make your online presence known. Use our guide to maximising your LinkedIn profile.
  • Learn any new skills that are required.
  • Write a cover letter that enhances your CV and lets employers know why you’re the right person to help their company succeed. Find out how to write a cover letter with impact.
  • Start applying for jobs!


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 is 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 for 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 proposition to prospective employers.

Good luck with your next adventure!

3 thoughts on “12 career change ideas for the over 50s

  1. Avatar
    Kay on Reply

    Is there possibly guidance on working or training further within a caring role as an Information, advice and guidance advisor, whom already has level 2 IAG.


  2. Avatar
    Sally Watts on Reply

    I am a carer and I have been a carer for a long time
    I feel I need a change of career change but not sure what I want to do.Can you help .

    1. Avatar
      Helen on Reply

      Hi Sally.

      Thank you for your question. It’s both exciting and challenging starting to contemplate a different career, particularly when we’ve done the same thing for a while. It’s great to start by asking yourself LOTS of questions (or better still, work with a friend who you trust and get them to ask you them). Initially, there are no off limits questions or answers. Allow yourself to dream a little – there will be plenty of time for getting practical and working out the ‘how’ later. Start with questions like:

    2. Why are you looking to make a change and why now?
    3. What improvements in your life do you hope to achieve?
    4. If you could do anything what would you do?
    5. What do you regret not having done/tried?
    6. What attracted you to your current job?
    7. What do you still love about it (what would you miss)?
    8. What do you dislike most about it (what wouldn’t you miss)?
    9. From there, you are likely to spot some patterns and possibly uncover some surprises. Some people discover they don’t want to change everything, just some things; others find out that there is a whole new adventure waiting to unfold. Armed with this knowledge, you can start your research. Read widely, get really curious, ask other people about their jobs (not what you should do, that is for you to discover).

      If all that feels a bit daunting, you might choose to work with a coach who specialises in career change as they will walk you through this discovery process, be able to suggest possible career options and signpost you to required training.

      I hope that helps! Let us know how you go.

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