If you want to change careers later in life, 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 57.2% in 1995 to 71.2% in 2021.
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 often 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 career change ideas for the over 50
Whatever your experience or qualifications, there’s a range of interesting opportunities out there for you. So 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, 60s, and beyond…
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If you’d like to put your knowledge of a particular industry to good use, why not consider 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 them 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.
Want to find out more about careers in teaching?
2. Driving instructor
If you’re calm and confident behind the wheel and you’d love to help give others the gift of driving, why not retrain as a driving instructor?
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, it’s worth visiting our career change guide for detailed information on how to get started.
Find out more about how to become a driving instructor
Alternatively, you can find more ideas in our article; Top driving jobs that offer flexibility and freedom.
If you want to go down the apprenticeship route, then you can search for opportunities near you on the government website.
This helpful guide from Startups also has plenty of information about how to become a self-employed tradesperson – including how to put together a business plan and take out the right business insurance.
4. Retail roles
If you’re good with people and like to keep busy, you might like to consider a job in retail.
It can be a great way to stay socially connected with your community and keep physically active. If you don’t want to work on the shop floor, then a management or administration position might suit you better.
There are loads of retailers hiring all across the UK to choose from. Although, if you need some inspiration, you could consider applying for a role at Southern Co-op.
Southern Co-op have over 200 convenience stores across the South of England, and they’re always looking for enthusiastic people to join their team.
Interested in applying for a retail role with Southern Coop?
Or want to explore all other retail roles?
5. Pet sitter
If you love animals, why not consider becoming a part-time or full-timepet 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 fun in this role.
The responsibilities of pet sitting include feeding, dog walking, and taking animals to and from the vets. Working with pets can be a great way to actively reduce your stress levels while working – and not many roles can boast that!
Ready to get started?
Find out more about what it’s like to be a pet sitter
6. Virtual asssistant
You can wave goodbye to the relentless grind of a 9-to-5 job and the infernal rush-hour commute by becoming a virtual assistant. As a virtual assistant, you can 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, 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.
Find virtual assistant roles
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7. Life coach/mentor
Among the options you have when considering a career change is to become a life coach or a 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 on to others – which makes it an ideal opportunity for mature adults.
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 and students.
If you’re interested in becoming a life coach, we offer plenty of relevant courses to help you get started.
Find out more about how to become a life coach
Take a life coaching course
Care 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 include personal carers, care home managers, occupational therapists, and bereavement support coordinators.
Interested in applying for a role in care?
Or want to find out more about what it’s retrain as a carer later in life?
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 career in sales could be for you.
Job options within this industry include everything from telesales assistant to account executive or sales director.
Ready to apply?
Volunteering is a gift that keeps on giving. It provides people with a greater 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’ll enrich your CV.
To find out more, why not visit the volunteering section of our website for some inspiration and to search for roles?
Search for volunteering roles and get inspired
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11. Jobs 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 for people over 50. 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.
Find a government job to suit you
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 – while 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 them off and pick them up at agreed times.
You don’t need any academic qualifications to get started, but you’ll 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 takes on nannies of all ages, offering training (including First Aid) and placing them with a suitable family.
Ready to apply?
Take a childcare course
Find out more about how to become a nanny
13. Funeral arranger
If you’re kind and compassionate and have lots of empathy, it might be 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 to 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.
Ready to apply?
Find out more about how to become a funeral arranger
Find out more about how to become a funeral director
How to get started with making a career change
Before you get started on your new adventure, it can be useful 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. You can read more about networking in our article; Networking to find a job.
- Identify your strengths and transferable skills.
- Rewrite your CV to bring out the skills most relevant to your new career path. You can get started by taking a look at our CV writing tips or downloading our free CV template here.
- If you’re going after a professional role, create a LinkedIn profile to make your online presence known. Why not use our guide to optimise 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 or download a free cover letter template from our website here.
- Start applying for jobs!
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The excitement of something new
Whatever the reason behind your change in direction, this is an exciting opportunity to embrace something new. It’s never too late to find a rewarding new career.
Many of the skills you’ve acquired in previous positions will be transferable, but don’t worry 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’s going to make you a very attractive candidate for prospective employers.
Good luck with your next adventure!