How to Make a Career Change at 30
Updated 2 November 2020
Making a career change in your 30s is something that many people think about, but there are some practical (and not so practical) things to consider before taking that leap into the unknown.
Why Is 30 a Good Time for a Career Change?
For many people, by the time they have reached 30, they have already spent 12 years working.
When you are leaving school, college or university and planning your future career, you may not have had life experience, any responsibilities or any real idea what you wanted to do with your life.
By the age of 30, you might start to feel the drudgery of working for years in a career that just isn’t a good fit – whether it was chosen because of your education, to please your parents or just because it seemed to be an easy option at the time.
It might seem daunting, but you really can have a ‘do-over’ – using the experience of your current career to decide what you want to do for the rest of your working life (it could be up to another 35 years, if you retire at 65).
As a 30-year-old (or thereabouts), you might have started a new journey in your personal life – perhaps a recent marriage, started a family or planning to buy a home.
You have life experience, new goals and aspirations – and it is possible that the career you chose at 18 is not fulfilling you in the way you thought it might.
Of course, you can choose a career change at any point in your working life, but in your 30s, you are likely to have less responsibilities to family than you might have at 40 or 50 – and still have the drive to be able to achieve them.
Reasons You Might Want (or Need) a Career Change at 30
A career change might be a passing idea – "What if I quit the 9-to-5 and became a chart-topping musician?"
Of course, these might just be pipe dreams, especially if you aren’t a musician.
If you are serious about making that change, there are a few things that might trigger you to take that next step. They tend to fall into the following three categories:
Being overlooked for a promotion, feeling undervalued or overworked with ineffective leadership can be deciding factors in making a big change.
If you feel like the business you are in is not for you because of a toxic work environment, no chance for progression or that the daily drudgery for a paycheck just isn’t worth it, then a career change could be what makes the difference for you.
Of course, some people make the decision to move careers because of company restructure, job relocation or even business closure – these are catalysts for change that can really make you weigh up your career options.
Have you discovered a passion or talent for something that you had never considered as a career option before?
If you have an ability that you feel isn’t being appreciated in your current career, then a change that allows you the freedom to utilize your passion as a job could bring you more of a sense of completion.
For some people, a change in their personal circumstances might require a career change.
Having a family or increased caring responsibilities for a loved one needs careful management – and the right career can allow for better balance between family and work.
Although it can seem a bit distasteful, sometimes a career change needs to happen for financial reasons.
Not all jobs pay the same, so if you have a specific monetary goal in mind, like paying for a wedding, buying a house or just having more financial freedom, then a career change might be the best option.
Feeling unfulfilled in your career might lead you to consider doing work that has a great personal impact on other people – whether retraining as a nurse or maybe a teacher – to get the positive energy that comes from helping others.
Finding fulfillment in service like this is a reason that so many people change careers in their 30s.
Things to Consider When Changing Your Career at 30
Of course, like many big changes in your life, a career change at 30 needs some serious consideration.
There are several things that you must think about before making that decision:
The Right Reason?
If you are considering a career change because you are struggling with interpersonal relationships in the workplace or feeling undervalued, then it might be a good idea to consider if the problem is in that one role in that particular company, or if you might be better changing within the same career.
Only you can make that decision based on how you feel – but if you think it might be just because you have had a bad experience with one company, it doesn’t mean you aren’t suited for that career.
Choosing the Right New Career
This is a very personal choice – and everyone will have different ideas about what new career they want to pursue.
To make the best choice for you, consider your talents and your passions, what you want to get out of a career, and decide what difference you want to make.
There is no getting away from it, changing careers is likely to have a negative financial impact on you – at least in the short term.
Giving up an employed role and losing that income, on top of paying for any education or training, and then possibly having to look at entry-level roles in your new career, all add up to what could be financial trouble.
For many careers, further education might be needed. This could be training or a university degree – or something in between.
Knowing what learning is needed before deciding will help you prepare for next steps.
Effect on Family and Friends
If you have a family, you may need to consider the impact this decision could have on them. Not just the financial impact, but also time spent studying and learning.
Having the support of family and friends will help you to achieve your career change goals with confidence.
Key Steps for Making a Career Change at 30
There are several steps that you need to take before you can embark on a career change, although not all of them will be relevant for your needs.
Decide on the Right Job
If you are passionate about helping people, you might want to consider a role as a teacher – maybe in a school setting, or perhaps in a college or university. You might have discovered a talent for social media, leading to you considering a career change in digital marketing. Finding your passion, what makes you happy and could make Monday mornings exciting again is a great start here. Many people already know what they would do if they could start over – you might be one of those.
Assess Your Current Skills
Taking online assessments could help you to understand whether there are any gaps in your skillset that you need to fill before considering a career change. For many employers, psychometric testing and assessments form part of their pre-employment checks, so finding out more about what that might entail will give you a good idea of any areas that need improvement.
If you are thinking of a career that needs formal qualifications, then you need to consider ways to achieve this.
Some colleges and universities might offer distance learning or part-time courses that you could take, while other careers might require a full time, on-campus education.
There are many online courses that can be taken to fill in knowledge gaps that you might have, from coding to copywriting courses.
Finding a training package online could allow you to study at your own pace, and perhaps continue working in your current role.
For some careers, apprenticeships or other on-the-job training might be available, allowing you the possibility to ‘earn while you learn’ – a great option for those considering a new role in the beauty industry, for example.
Don’t forget to consider the key skills you might already have, too.
Plan Your Finances
Knowing that whatever way you take the leap will have an impact on your finances means that it makes sense to plan as much as you can.
Mitigating costs while you are in the process of changing will reduce the pressure on you – which can only be a good thing.
Work out how much retraining will cost you (course fees, etc.) and consider the impact of leaving your current role.
Look into whether there are any funding options for you to retrain – teachers, for example, are widely needed and as such it can be possible to find sponsorship for teacher training from some providers.
The Best Jobs for a Career Change at 30
With all this in mind, what are the best jobs to consider for a career change at 30?
If you need some inspiration, we have found some popular options that you might want to think about for your career change:
Sales is a broad term, it can mean telesales, door-to-door or even selling in the street.
A career in sales can be successful for people from many backgrounds – all you really need is a good ‘feel’ for people, great communication skills and the ability to persuade.
Changing careers to a role in sales could be a simple pivot from a current role – like a former personal trainer selling fitness equipment – or something related to a passion, like selling vehicles for a car enthusiast.
Retraining for a sales role might not need formal qualifications, and entry-level roles might be available.
From communication to resilience, job and everyday life skills can be used to demonstrate innate abilities that make you a great candidate for a sales role.
2. Web Developer
As more and more of our lives go online, a web developer role could allow you to be at the forefront of new technology and engineering.
Knowledge of coding, understanding complex development languages and creating interesting, useable online content is something that a good web developer can offer – and it is a role that can be as broad or as specific as you want it to be.
Roles in web development could be on a freelance basis or for a certain employer – making it a flexible career with many options.
Going back to college does not have to be the only way into a good role in web development, with various online options available for self-teaching as well as tutor-led classes.
If you are a natural problem-solver who relies on logic to make a conclusion, you will find the nature of coding and web development easy – and if not, this is a skill that can be learned.
3. Social Media Manager
Advertising, marketing and sales all rely on attracting the right customers, and more and more businesses are understanding the pivotal role that having the right social media presence can have in success.
A good social media manager can find the right content to share on the various platforms, get potential customers engaged and interested, and formulate plans to increase visibility, improve user experience, and make more money.
Social media managers often do not require any formal qualifications but getting experience will make this career change option easier.
Making the career change into social media management needs some creative thinking skills, as well as communication and many other transferable soft skills that you might have from your current role.
Keeping up to date on the latest news about the different platforms will help make sure that you are ahead of the game – especially when running paid-for ads. Look for reputable online courses to help you get some knowledge before you make the change.
A career change to become a consultant might not be much of a leap in terms of retraining.
A good consultant has experience and knowledge in their specialist subject, so becoming a consultant in your current field is a great way to make a positive change to your career prospects.
To become a consultant, you do need some specialized knowledge – so undertaking extra training is necessary in many cases.
Becoming a consultant could see you working with some of the world’s leading firms, utilizing your specialist knowledge to help businesses move forward. This could mean international travel, or it could mean choosing when you want to work and how.
The flexibility to make this choice – as well as the extensive, in-depth knowledge you can acquire – makes this a great choice for someone looking for a career change that utilizes your existing qualifications and experience.
A great teacher can shape a life and depending on what age children you are thinking about working with, it can be an easy transition.
For many private schools, qualifications for teaching roles may not be necessary, and if you have already obtained a degree, you could be a perfect candidate for teaching college or even becoming a professor in a university.
Approaching teacher training can seem daunting, but it is a career change that could have many positive benefits – for you and for others.
For some people, teaching really is a calling – and finding the right level you want to teach at can be so fulfilling. To make the right choice, don’t be afraid to speak to current teachers that you might have as friends, and look out for any opportunities to be a substitute teacher in your district (if you meet the requirements).
Each state has different requirements for teachers, so make sure that you understand what training and qualifications you need for this career change.
Reaching 30, feeling unfulfilled, undervalued and generally unhappy in your job might lead you to consider a change in career.
For many people, that leap is not one that they feel ready to take; but with careful consideration, planning and preparation, it could lead to many more working years in a career that is fulfilling, gives you purpose and makes you look forward to Monday.
The job market today is versatile and dynamic, and there has never been a better time to make the most of online learning, free resources and networking opportunities to help you make the transition into a career that suits you.
Your aspirations and goals at 30 may not be the same as they were when you left education and set foot into the world of employment – so by taking advantage of the opportunity to have a ‘do-over’ and launching a new career in your 30s, you could find job satisfaction in a way you couldn’t have imagined as an 18-year-old.
It might not be a straightforward process, but if you take all the possible pitfalls into consideration and take a pragmatic approach, it could be the best thing you ever do.