Having life experience can be useful in most walks of life – but there are certain jobs where the application of skills and knowledge gained simply by living can be invaluable.

These jobs often revolve around supporting people through the big things in life that many of us go through; for example, making important financial decisions, giving birth, or getting an education.

Every time we go through an experience (particularly if it’s a challenging one), we usually develop knowledge and/or skills, which could help us cope better or excel in those circumstances next time. It can also give us a great empathy for others who are going through something similar.

Many of our members have also told us that they’re keen to find roles and opportunities where they can use their skills and experience to help others. So, with this in mind, here are 13 job roles where life experience can be a real advantage…

1. Counsellor

counsellor

Do you enjoy helping family and friends with their problems? Are you always happy to lend a listening ear and offer some kind words?

Counsellors work with individuals, couples, or families – offering them a safe place to speak and get things off their chest, as they take steps to resolve certain issues in their lives.

People seek counselling for many reasons. Some look to fix problems in their relationships, while others try to overcome feelings related to a particularly traumatic experience.

Although counselling can be an incredibly rewarding career path, it can also be challenging trying not to get caught up in other people’s circumstances, which is where having those extra years of life experience under your belt can be a real bonus. Experienced individuals who have experienced life’s ups and downs can often find it easier to empathise with others who are going through similar circumstances.

You don’t need a degree to become a counsellor. However, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) tend to set their own standards for people wanting to enter the profession, which are widely recognised by many employers.

If you’re interested in becoming a counsellor, it’s recommended that you undertake a three-stage course, over three years. This can offer you plenty of opportunities to put your counselling skills into real-life practise and get feedback from supervisors and tutors.

Stage 1 – Introduction to Counselling – a course designed to introduce you to the basics of counselling and help decide whether it’s for you before you fully commit. It usually takes eight to 12 weeks and is run by adult education centres or local colleges.

Stage 2 – Certificate in Counselling – a course designed to help you develop your counselling skills and give you a deeper understanding of counselling theories, ethics, and self-awareness. It’s usually run by adult education colleges or local colleges on a part-time basis for one year.

For these first two stages, it’s best to check with your local colleges, universities, and adult education centres to see which courses are running, when they take place, and what the associated costs are.

And for the final stage…

Stage 3 – Core Practitioner Training – at this stage, many people take a diploma in counselling which consists of in-depth training based on internationally-recognised standards. This stage of training usually takes one year full-time or 2-3 years part-time and will involve classroom and placement-based learning.

BACP has a list of accredited diplomas on their website, which you browse using the button below.

Browse courses

Or find out more about becoming a counsellor…

2. Midwife

midwifery

Midwives have a privileged role because they’re responsible for helping mothers deliver babies safely into the world – and there’s no delivery more precious than the gift of life!

Giving birth is usually one of the best but labout intensive experiences that a new mum will ever go through, both emotionally and physically. So midwives must know what to do and say to coach a woman through.

Midwifery is the sort of role where all kinds of life experiences can be valuable. For example, if you worked in coaching or leadership roles in the past, you might find it easier to adopt the calm but firm demeanour needed to encourage a woman to keep going throughout labour.

Or, if you’ve had your own kids, you’ll likely be able to relate to many of the things mums are thinking or feeling.

Becoming a midwife is a big commitment, so if you’re not sure whether you’d like it, the best way to find out is to spend some time volunteering in a maternity ward to see whether it’s right for you.

If you decide that it is, then the next step would be to do a midwifery degree course. This usually takes three years and will allow you to learn plenty of theory in the classroom and practise what you’ve learnt out on placement.

Like most degrees, there’s a significant cost involved, but depending on your circumstances, you might have the chance to apply for grants, loans, and bursaries to help you out with the cost of daily living. Though, it’s worth pointing out that, frustratingly, government-funded postgraduate loans currently have an age cut-off of 60 – something we simply can’t understand.

Find out more about midwifery

3. Local councillor

If you’re keen to make a difference in the lives of people in your local area and promote change where necessary, then it might be worth thinking about becoming a local councillor.

Councillors must live or work in their local area in order to be elected to the local council to represent it and have a say in council policy. They act as advocates and ‘case workers’ for individuals in their constituency who request advice and support.

Councillors spend time in formalised council meetings and out in the community speaking to and working with the public. They’re expected to balance the needs and interests of residents, the political party they represent, and the council.

Each councillor works in their own way, meaning they can choose their own schedule, depending on their role within the council and how many commitments they choose to take on.

Councillors don’t earn ‘wages’ as such, but are paid an allowance – the amount of which is decided by how much responsibility they have within their role.

To apply for this role, you’ll need to have good leadership and decision-making skills, as you’ll have lots of people relying on you to help make their lives better.

The role can also be challenging. No two days will be the same with new issues arising all the time. Therefore, having plenty of life experience can be useful in giving you awareness of political and social matters, and of how you come across.

If you think this is a role you could really sink your teeth into, there are two main routes you can take. You can either decide to stand independently or for one of the political parties.

Want to stand for a political party?

If you decide to stand for a political party, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your chosen party as soon as you can, so they can advise further on what’s involved.

Or do you want to stand as an independent candidate?

If you want to stand as an independent candidate, you can contact your council’s electoral services department. You’ll then need to start identifying issues in your local area and considering how you can help to make your case for why people should vote for you.

Getting officially nominated

No matter how you choose to stand, it’s important to make sure that you’ve been officially nominated by at least 10 people (and that you’ve consented to being nominated) before the local election.

Your nomination papers and written consent must be submitted to your local democratic services department 19 working days before the election date arrives.

Get career support from the experts

Clear from the Crowd CVs+ can provide you with professional one to one career support every step of the way – from help writing your CV and looking for a job, to interview hints and tips and advice on how to get the most out of LinkedIn.

Learn more

4. Care worker

care worker

Caring is a role where you can make a real positive difference in people’s lives. Care workers support individuals who’re in need of care due to a range of factors, such as age, disability, and/or illness.

They typically spend their days helping people with everyday tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, washing, and dressing. Care workers will also provide emotional support to both the person receiving care and their families – something working alongside other healthcare professionals.

This role can be carried out in a range of different settings – from schools and care homes to hospitals and private housing. There are also a range of different roles available. You can work in a part-time or full-time capacity and choose to live out or live in.

Care work is perfectly suited to those with some life experience under their belt. Older adults tend to have a great deal of emotional intelligence, which is ideal when you need to be a shoulder to lean on (or cry on) for the person you’re caring for.

You don’t necessarily need any formal qualifications to become a care worker – you just need to be kind, compassionate, and eager to help others. Lots of hospitals, care homes, or other care organisations will hire you with no previous skills and experience and train you on the job – so there’s no reason why you can’t apply now.

Ready to apply?

Alternatively, you can complete some courses before sending off your application, to boost your chances of being hired. Why not take a look at our guide to becoming a care worker to find out more? Or read Lina and Caroline’s stories of how they became care workers later in life?

Get inspired…

5. Driving instructor

Do you enjoy the freedom that driving gives you? Would you like to help others enjoy it safely too?

Driving instructors teach people of all ages to drive – from how to start the car to passing their test. It can be rewarding to see the progress they make each time they get behind the wheel.

The role is ideal for people who are calm, patient, and confident with driving, as you’ll need to try and instil these attributes in the students that you teach; helping them become as safe and competent on the road as possible.

Most people who become driving instructors have driven for several years and built up enough experience to feel comfortable coaching a complete beginner; identifying potential issues ahead of time so that they can intervene if necessary.

As a driving instructor, you could earn £20-£30 per hour, depending on what area you teach in and whether you work for yourself or a driving school franchise.

Some people prefer to work for a driving school or agency first whilst they build up confidence in their teaching ability, whereas others prefer to work on a self-employed basis, choosing their own schedule – but it’s completely up to you!

The journey to becoming an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), is a fairly straightforward three-step process.

  1. Apply to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) which will assess your suitability for the role. They usually accept people who are…
  • Aged 21 or over
  • Have had a full car driving license for at least three years
  • Qualified to drive the same category of vehicle they plan on supervising students in
  1. Once your initial application has been approved, you’ll be able to start your driving instructor training. This will prepare you for three qualifying tests and is offered by a wide range of driving schools across the country.

    Although the training (and tests) come at a cost, you can often successfully complete each test within a matter of weeks at a test centre near you.

  2. When you’ve successfully completed training and passed each of the three qualifying tests, you’ll have 12 months to apply for your first Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) badge. There’s a fee for this but once you have it, you won’t need to renew it for four years.

    The ADI badge means you’re now allowed to get out on the road and charge students money for your teaching service.

Ready to get started?

Or want to find out more?

6. Teacher

teacher

Teaching is more than just a transfer of academic knowledge. Good teachers usually have a strong desire to help their pupils fall in love with learning, which invariably means adapting lessons to make learning as easy as possible.

Teachers with plenty of life experience are often well-equipped in helping pupils look at the bigger picture and understand how hard work and determination in the present can make a significant difference in the future.

Pupils often learn lessons about life from teachers that they carry with them long after they leave the classroom – and most of us will remember our most inspiring teachers for the rest of our lives!

If you’re interested in becoming a teacher, there are several routes that you can take to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), depending on what skills and qualifications you have already.

For example, some people might complete an undergraduate teacher-training degree, while others choose a specialised training programme geared towards people who are retraining later in life.

Interested in becoming a teacher?

An option for those who have plenty of experience in a subject area – but not necessarily a degree in it – is to join a Now Teach programme. You’ll receive school-led training whilst working towards QTS and will also be supported thereafter once you become a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT).

The programme is designed to respect and understand the leap of faith that people take when starting a teaching degree later in life. Now Teach’s developed programme of wrap-around support aims to make sure that people remain in the profession long-term.

Find out more…

If you’d like to work in a school environment but teaching isn’t for you, why not put your DIY skills to the test as a site Manager, caretaker, or premises Officer? TIB Services are currently recruiting people who are proactive, helpful, want to make a difference, and are confident with DIY tasks to take on rewarding work within friendly school environments.

You don’t need any related qualifications or prior experience working in school environments to apply and get started.

Get career support from the experts

Clear from the Crowd CVs+ can provide you with professional one to one career support every step of the way – from help writing your CV and looking for a job, to interview hints and tips and advice on how to get the most out of LinkedIn.

Learn more

7. Set up your own business

set up business

Have you got many years of experience in a particular industry or profession? Or perhaps you’re skilled in a hobby that you spend time doing outside of work? If so, then it might be worth thinking about how you can use this experience to become your own boss and work to a schedule that suits you. 

For example, if you love getting creative in the kitchen, you could try setting up your own baking business. Or, if you’ve got knowledge and experience in a particular subject area, online tutoring could be for you. 

When it comes to setting up your own business, the most difficult part is often getting started and building up a client base. But if you’re confident in your ideas and ability to make them work, then the chance to be your own boss, choose your own hours, and set your own rates can be quite attractive. As the saying goes, fortune favours the brave!

Read more of our self-employment articles

And while going into business for yourself can seem a little daunting – especially if it’s your first time – remember that you don’t have to go it alone. You can always get help from experienced professionals, through organisations like Auditel and Startup School for Seniors.

Auditel is a network of 100 self-employed business consultants that can not only help you to build your own business, but also achieve a better work-life balance, save money, boost profits, and most importantly, enjoy your new venture.

Startup School for Seniors also offers a leading online course aimed at people age 50+, to help you turn your business idea into reality – without any prior knowledge. You’ll also get to benefit from being part of a community of older business owners.

8. Relationship counsellor

relationship counsellor

Would you enjoy helping couples move past points of conflict, communicate more effectively, and strengthen their bond?

Relationship counsellors provide couples with a safe, non-judgmental environment to communicate with one another and identify underlying issues that could be causing them to argue or feel disconnected. Couples might seek counselling to work on a range of different problems including infidelity or trust issues.

Helping couples to go on a journey together and seeing the progress they make as they address and understand their issues better can be satisfying – especially for people who get enjoyment out of helping other people better their lives.

However, as with any counselling role, you’ll need to be able to separate your own thoughts and feelings from those of your clients. For many, this can prove challenging, which is why it’s often necessary for counsellors to undergo counselling themselves to help them work through what they see and hear in client sessions.

When becoming a counsellor, it can also help if you’ve had good and bad experiences with relationships yourself so you can understand and empathise with where each partner is coming from. But the trick here is to be able to use this experience to your advantage without letting it cloud your judgement or create bias.

Learn more about relationship counselling

9. Youth worker

youth worker

Life experience alone is not enough to become a good youth worker, but combined with solid training and strong boundaries, it really does add magic to the role.

Youth workers support children and young people aged 11-25 years old; enabling them to have a voice and place in society. This is usually achieved by helping them to improve their social, personal, and emotional development, and achieve their full potential.

The young people who usually benefit from youth work are those who’ve had problems with things like bullying, family relationships, crime, or their health, which means they tend to feel somewhat cast adrift from their community.

Many young people who are going through a very difficult time can find it difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel and look beyond the struggles they’re facing in the present.

But youth workers are able to help them look towards a brighter, more positive future and show them that things can get better. There are many youth workers who’ve been through very trying times themselves but have come out the other side and now want to help others do the same.

To become a qualified youth worker, there are a few different routes you could take…

  1. Complete a bachelor’s degree in youth work or youth studies that’s recognised by the National Youth Agency (NYA). You’ll also need to try and gain some experience alongside your studies if you want to increase your chances of applying for professional youth work roles when you graduate (for example, by volunteering at a local youth club).

    Once qualified, you could work at a local youth club, community centre, or religious centre running activities or drop-in services. Here, as well as putting your training into practise, you’ll also need to have good business sense, as you’ll often be managing budgets and applying for grants to fund activities and services.
  2. Volunteer at a youth club whilst you complete a Level 2 Certificate or Level 3 Diploma in Youth Work Practice. Some employers will also take on youth work apprentices – which could give you the chance to earn whilst completing your Level 2 or Level 3 Award. You can then apply for a job as a youth support worker and take further training on the job.

    However, to reach professional youth worker status, you’ll still need to complete a degree (which is possible to do on a part-time basis alongside your job).

    It’s best to contact your local youth clubs, community or religious centres to find out whether they are taking on volunteers or apprentices.

  3. If you’ve got relevant skills, experience, and qualifications (for example, in career guidance, probation, teaching, or community development), you can apply to be a youth support worker. You’ll then be able to complete either an undergraduate or postgraduate degree whilst you’re working.

Apply to do a youth work degree

Or find out more about youth work…

10. Consultant

Consulting is a great career role for professionals who’ve spent many years in a corporate environment building up extensive knowledge and experience. You might be surprised how valuable your skills can be to others…

Consultants simply exchange their knowledge for money and mostly work for businesses that want access to specialist knowledge and advice. Many consultants work on a freelance basis and have regular clients.

For example, a consultant might be called in every few months on a freelance basis by a local company or an individual who needs their website updating and will happily pay you to do it for them. Others, however, are hired by big businesses to help with specific projects or initiatives.

For freelance opportunities, could try starting with sites like Guru and Upwork to build up a client base, or you if you’d prefer something more permanent, you can apply to companies that are advertising roles online. This is one area where using your own personal and professional network to open up opportunities and to get introductions to potential clients can be incredibly powerful.

Get started with consultancy

11. Financial coach

If you enjoy number crunching and you’re great at managing your money, you could consider a career as a financial coach…

The decisions we make about our finances are some of the toughest and most nerve-wracking, which is why it’s important for people to make logical and well-informed choices. It’s at this point that some people seek outside help from someone with financial expertise who can help them carve a positive path for themselves.

People who go into financial coaching need to have a solid understanding of money and the consequences of making various different financial decisions. While much of this technical information can be learnt through courses or books, you’re likely to have a better idea about the emotions and consequences linked to important financial decisions if you’ve lived through them yourself – for example, taking out a mortgage or budgeting after being made redundant.

You don’t need to be a financial expert to get started as a financial coach, as many employers will train you on the job. However, it does help if you have a strong academic background (which doesn’t have to be related to finance) or a professional background in coaching or influencing people, such as teaching or general management.

If you want some more inspiration, why not take a look at Phil’s story? Phil became a financial coach at 60.

Get inspired…

Or maybe you’re ready to apply?

12. Life coach

Life is full of ups, downs, twists, and turns and sometimes it can be difficult to work out where we’re supposed to be headed next or to find the courage to make the move that we know is for the best. This is where a life coach often steps in.

A life coach’s job is to motivate, inspire, and encourage people to follow a positive life path; whether this means giving them the support they need to leave a toxic relationship or encouraging them to follow their dreams and go back to university.

Although it isn’t essential to have life experience to become a life coach, it’ll certainly help you to better understand, relate to, and empathise with clients who could be facing a range of different decisions or dilemmas.

Nearly all life coaches work on a self-employed basis, enjoying the flexibility that the role offers and setting their own hourly rate. You don’t need any formal qualifications to get started but if you’re new to coaching, it’s a good idea to develop your coaching skills and enhance your credibility by taking a course.

As you’ll be self-employed, it’s also helpful to sharpen your skills on how to win new clients etc. There are some helpful courses out there that’ll give you tips on how to go about setting up your services as a business and trying to win new clients.

Find out more about life coaching…

Get career support from the experts

Clear from the Crowd CVs+ can provide you with professional one to one career support every step of the way – from help writing your CV and looking for a job, to interview hints and tips and advice on how to get the most out of LinkedIn.

Learn more

13. Tour guide

tour guide

By becoming a tour guide, you could get to visit your favourite destinations, whilst helping others to see why these places are so special. If you’re well-travelled, with excellent communication skills and a desire to meet lots of new people, then touring could be a natural career path for you to take.

While it’s a lot of fun, it’s also a fairly competitive field, so you’ll need to have determination and a genuine passion for your profession and passengers.

The best way to get started is by doing some research to make sure that you find a tour operator that aligns with your interests. For example, would you prefer to give historic tours at a slower pace or fast-paced activity-filled tours where you’re hopping from one place to the next?

This is also a good way to find out how much experience your preferred tour operator requires from candidates, or whether there are certain qualifications required.

Many tour operators – both local and major ones – will be willing to provide training as long as you’re enthusiastic about the role and willing to learn. However, many will expect you to be knowledgeable about the area that you’re applying to work in. For example, maybe you’ve lived there or visited it frequently, or have a degree related to the culture or history of the region.

Find out more about tour guiding

Final thoughts...

There are many jobs in which professional skills and experience are only one aspect of what can help you to succeed.

From being empathetic in a counselling job to having plenty of advice and wisdom to share with your students as a teacher, life experience can give you that extra edge. So if you’re looking for a new role or simply considering a change of career, don’t underestimate the power and value of your journey so far.

For some more inspiration, why not check out the job ideas section of our website? Here, you’ll find anything from 13 career change ideas for the over 50s, to articles covering unique jobs you might not have considered and top driving roles.