How a Late-in-Life Career Change Can Boost Your Fortunes

A new study finds that a career change can pay off in big ways for older workers. But take two key steps before you make the move.

How a Late-in-Life Career Change Can Boost Your Fortunes Photo by racorn / Shutterstock.com

If you want to work into or right up to retirement, consider a late-life career switch before then.

Folks who voluntarily switch careers in their 50s tend to work longer, according to a recent analysis by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

About 53 percent of these job changers were still working when they were 65, compared with 44 percent of other workers.

One of the paper’s authors, Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher, a research economist at the Center for Retirement Research, tells the Wall Street Journal:

“On the face of it, that may not seem like much of a difference, but it’s significant. It means that people who switched jobs in their 50s increased their chances of working in their 60s by about 20%.”

Working longer can also make a significant difference in the size of your nest egg as well as your quality of life, as other studies have shown in recent years.

For example, the American Institute for Economic Research found in 2015 that, among workers who attempted a career change later in life:

  • 87 percent were happy or very happy after the change
  • 65 percent were less stressed after the change
  • 50 percent saw an income increase because of the change

How to make a late-life career change

Don’t go quitting your current job just yet. The American Institute for Economic Research found that 82 percent of people who attempted a late-life career change succeeded. So things didn’t work out for nearly 20 percent of people.

A career change at any age requires forethought and planning — two key steps you should take before you even think about sending out a resume or filling out an application.

1. Think on it. Consider all of the experience and skills you’ve gained over the years when deciding on a new job or career field. Working into retirement can take many forms — such as a part-time gig, consulting in your former field or starting a small business, as we note in “Will Working Longer Rescue Your Retirement?

Also consider the fields in which older workers are more likely to find employment. As we advise in “10 Tips to Land an Awesome Job When You’re Over 50“:

“Rather than trying to convince a youth-centric company that you’re right for the job, it may be saner to focus your efforts on employers who value older workers.”

According to a recent analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by Time, the profession with the largest share of senior workers is tax preparation. See “10 Jobs With the Biggest Share of Senior Workers” for more.

2. Plan for it. Kerry Hannon, author of “Getting the Job You Want After 50 for Dummies,” told CNBC you should give yourself a five-year time horizon for transitioning into your new career. She explains, “If there’s a kind of work that you want to move toward when you retire, it’s important to give yourself time to try things out, get the skills and do the job first to see if it’s something that will catch you on fire.”

The AARP Public Policy Institute’s 2015 report on unemployment and re-employment among people ages 45 to 70 found that job-searching steps were a key difference between the re-employed and unemployed. For example, the re-employed were more likely to reach out to their networks of contacts to find jobs.

Additionally, websites like Patina Solutions, HourlyNerd and Upwork connect workers with companies looking for people with specific expertise.

Of course, you’ll want to update your resume before applying for jobs. For help with that, check out “12 Tips to Building a Resume That Gets You Hired.”

Do you have any wisdom about late-life career changes to share? Let us know below or on Facebook.

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