10 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.

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, take fewer sick days off and are organised, efficient and confident. They also tend to remain in their jobs for longer than younger employees retaining 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 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

10 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. Teach

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.

If you don’t like the idea of having to formally retrain for a teaching qualification, there are a number of other ways you can get involved as a teaching assistant, helping children to read or with after school clubs. Nothing brings back your sense of youth more than working with children, especially in that golden primary school age.

2. 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.

3. Retail Assistant

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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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 for people over 50. 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.

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 top 10 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!

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