Making a career change at 40 might sound daunting, but it’s a career choice many women are currently making—or at least considering! Unlike the past where long careers in the same company or position was the norm, the changing business environment of today demands that professionals remain agile and proactive in their career development, whether that means returning to work after 40 or making a career change at 40.
What to Know When Making a Career Change at 40
“There are lots of opportunities for women starting second or new careers after 40,” says Dr. Robin Buckley, CPC, a cognitive-behavioral coach, columnist for Entrepreneur.com, and founder of Insights Group Psychological & Coaching Services. “When women hesitate because they are fearful of changing careers or entering the workforce after taking a break, it is important to remember the significant amount of experience they offer. Whether creating a second career and building off professional expertise, or starting a new career and building off experiential aptitude, women in both groups have significant knowledge and skills to offer.”
“If you’re considering making a career change or re-entering the workplace after some time away, it’s normal that this change in your life can bring up self-doubt and imposter syndrome (the feeling you’ll be found as not qualified or a ‘fraud’). This is normal, after all, you are making a courageous change,” says Kelli Thompson, leadership and career coach. “A great tip to ease the fear is to focus on the facts that you’ve had much of your life to develop attractive skills that are transferrable to any job. Start by making a list and keeping a journal of marketable skills you’ve learned and what impact those skills had to people, projects or profits.”
“The best approach for anyone returning to the workforce regardless of the reason is to be realistic about expectations,” James Philip, career expert, Managing Director at Employment BOOST, and author of The Sh!t They Don’t Teach You At Business School. “They have to prepare themselves for the reality that they may not jump back into the workforce at the level that they were before. The world is changing very fast and skill requirements are changing, too. Returning to the workforce doesn’t mean they’re starting at the beginning, but they have to be realistic. The key, however, is to not give up hope, lose motivation, or get down on themselves. Switching careers is similar to switching high schools in the 10th grade—it’s not easy for anybody, not even the popular kids. But it can be done if you keep your head up.”
How to Successfully Make a Career Change at 40
“When considering career options, the best job for a woman over 40 is the one she wants,” says Dr. Buckley. “Instead of choosing a job that ‘works best for the kids’, or ‘supports my partner’s career path’, or ‘is practical’, women in their 40s or older can focus their energy and time on choosing a job that aligns with what they want for their future and what they want for themselves,” she says. “The beautiful aspect of deciding on a new career after 40 is that you are at a time of your life to focus on you, using your confidence and skills to create the job you love.”
To identify their wants in regards to best job options, Dr. Buckley suggests women over 40 looking to make a career change can start by writing out a few things:
- the things that you are passionate about,
- the things that you love doing, and
- what activities make you feel like you are functioning at your absolute best.
Beyond assessing your personal goals and interests, you should also consider job growth when making a career change at 40 to ensure your new chosen field will have good hiring prospects for years to come. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 10 fastest-growing jobs over the next 10 years are as follows:
- Motion picture projectionists
10-Year Growth Rate: 70%
Median Pay: $27,490
- Wind turbine service technicians
10-Year Growth Rate: 68%
Median Pay: $56,230
- Ushers, lobby attendants and ticket takers
10-Year Growth Rate: 62%
Median Pay: $25,110
- Nurse practitioners
10-Year Growth Rate: 52%
Median Pay: $111,680
- Solar photovoltaic installers
10-Year Growth Rate: 52%
Median Pay: $46,470
- Restaurant cooks
10-Year Growth Rate: 49%
Median Pay: $28,880
- Talent managers and agents
10-Year Growth Rate: 46%
Median Pay: $75,420
- Costume attendants
10-Year Growth Rate: 44%
Median Pay: $42,910
- Group fitness instructors
10-Year Growth Rate: 39%
Median Pay: $40,510
- Wood model makers
10-Year Growth Rate: 39%
Median Pay: $64,050
However, if those 10 fastest growing fields don’t appeal to you, here is a big list of the top jobs career coaches and experts recommend for women wanting to make a career change at 40:
Real Estate Agent
“Nearly anyone with a great personality and some sales skills can make a good living in real estate,” says James Philip, career expert, Managing Director at Employment BOOST, and author of The Sh!t They Don’t Teach You At Business School. “It’s also a career that you never have to retire from too, so there is flexibility.”
Patient Care Technician
This “is a growing field,” says Andi Simon, a corporate anthropologist and author of Rethink: Smashing the Myths of Women in Business. “The profession is in high demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), patient care technicians can expect 17% job growth through 2024,” she says, making it a great career choice for women over 40.
According to Indeed, proofreaders make about $22 per hour, so if you’re great at grammar, very detail-oriented and want a work-from-home job where you can manage your own schedule, becoming a proofreader could be a good career to start at 40. Get started by listing your services on Upwork to gain your first few clients and build your proofreading portfolio.
Amazon FBA Seller
Whether you’re selling handmade goods or reselling products you buy on wholesale, starting your own online retail shop on either Amazon or Etsy can be a great second career for any savvy saleswoman, since markups tend to be around 50%. Sign up for Amazon’s FBA program where you send your products to an Amazon warehouse and they manage shipping and fulfillment for you for a small fee to make it a hassle-free career to start at 40.
Are you a beauty lover or someone who’s obsessed with watching pimple popping videos? If so, becoming an aesthetician could be just the right career change for you. Some schooling is required in order to get your license. Requirements vary by state, so check your state’s guidelines for school and licensing requirements. You’ll get to do hands-on skincare work from facials to microdermabrasion treatments and more.
Related: Best Work-at-Home Jobs
“There’s a wide range of marketing managers can provide organizations—everything from marketing campaign management, creative services, and customer experience to name a few,” says Thompson. “Many marketing roles, especially those with a focus on digital and online marketing, are in high demand. Plus, many of these roles are naturally provide flexible schedules and work-from-home access. They pay well, with the median marketing manager salary running around $136,000.”
Financial Consultant or Certified Financial Planner
The benefits of being a financial consultant or CFP is that “you can be your own boss or work in a firm providing support for clients—specialize on helping women achieve their financial literacy and wellbeing,” says Simon.
“Software developers create applications and software that run on a computer or other devices,” says Brie Reynolds, career development manager and coach at FlexJobs and Remote.co. “Training for career changers interested in this role is widely available, and no longer requires going back to school for new a new degree. Also, demand for professionals with these skills is high.”
Project and Program Managers
“Look at any corporate job board and you will likely find one of these open roles,” says Thompson. “For women with strong project management, analytical and communication skills, these types of roles offer the ability to implement new processes and programs in organizations. If you’re great at getting stuff done and bringing others along with you, these roles are frequently found on work from home job websites and have a median salary of $64,000. Technical project managers median salary is closer to $106,000 per year.”
While learning how to become a massage therapist does take some schooling, it’s a business you can run out of your own home if you get properly licensed. Plus, it’s a feel-good job in a calming, low-key environment, which means no stressful workdays like you might encounter in a more corporate environment. Whether you sell your services independently through sites like Task Rabbit or Fiverr or join a local spa, you’ll get to build client relationships and won’t be tied to a desk all day.
Quality Assurance Analyst
“Quality assurance analysts ensure the applications and software run smoothly. Because of the increased demand for software and applications, quality assurance is also a growing and in-demand field with a variety of training opportunities,” says Brie Reynolds. “Previous experience in a technology-related job, general tech-savviness, and outstanding attention to detail.”
IT Managers and Analysts
“More women than ever are entering technology fields,” says Thompson. “With the growth of technical expertise as an essential part of the business, it’s easy to see why. If continuing education is interesting to you, many colleges offer scholarships and assistance to women in STEM. Plus, many technology organizations are inherently flexible in the ability to work from anywhere.” An added bonus: “They pay well,” she says. “The median salary fo ran IT Manager is $139,000.”
Online Teaching Job
An “online teaching job might be an area that can give you the flexibility to live wherever you want yet still have a teaching job,” says Simon. “The range of subjects is quite broad, from teaching coding for girls, to Spanish and ACL teachers.”
Virtual Administrative Assistant
“The role of executive and administrative assistants is quickly moving to fully remote jobs, and demand is growing,” says Reynolds. “This is a particularly good career change field for anyone with excellent organizational skills who enjoy supporting individuals and teams, and who is highly skilled using technology to communicate and collaborate.”
“Even without prior experience, retail and restaurants is an industry you can quickly apply soft skills to and achieve competitive pay off the bat,” says Philip. “It’s also an industry that’s constantly in need of hard workers.”
If you’re a quick and efficient typer, making a career change at 40 to a transcriptionist could be a good, flexible option. Look for transcriptionist jobs on Rev.com, one of the largest transcription services, or Scribie.com, which pays between $5-$25 per audio file. The best part: You can pick and choose which jobs you want while also managing your own schedule.
For women looking to make a career change at 40 who love organizing, becoming a professional organizer could be the way to go. You’ll get to go into clients’ homes and help them declutter and create organizational systems that’ll serve them long-term. Just think of yourself as the next Marie Kondo!
“All types of Coaching, Life Coaching and Counseling Jobs are available both in-person and remotely. They offer a great deal of personal growth and gratification for both the individual coach and her clients,” says Simon.
Ice Cream Truck Owner
Tammy Hauser(age 57 from Sarasota, FL) had to pause her trolley tour business amid the pandemic. To make an alternative income, she got quarantine creative and renovated a vintage ice cream truck she found on Facebook Marketplace. She coined it The ChillMobile and now runs a business serving up ice cream and frozen treats at neighborhood events. According to Tammy, annual revenue is expected to be more than $100,000 this year! Owning an ice cream truck business is a terrific side gig for anyone in their 40’s still actively working or planning ahead for retirement. You can do it at night or on the weekends to make extra money and build a part-time income stream. It also provides a terrific workout so no need to go to the gym!
“Math your area of interest? Statisticians are the fastest-growing job category that can offer excellent growth potential,” says Simon. “All the big data need people who can interpret and explain the insights emerging from the information.”
“There is a tremendous staffing shortage in sales at the moment,” says Philip. “Also, sales is always in demand. If you’re in a place in your career where you don’t want to take a significant pay cut or if you need to make up for lost time (e.g. retirement savings), sales organizations are a good place to jump back in.”
Uber or Lyft Driver
If making a career change at 40 sounds daunting because you’re not ready for a massive lifestyle change, then working as an Uber or Lyft driver could be a good intermediate option, since you can set your own hours. It doesn’t cost a lot to get started either! As long as your vehicle meets certain requirements, you can be up and running in just a few days! Plus, the earning potential is limitless—depending on your location, some drivers report up to six-figure annual salaries.
“Because of the growth in remote communication tools, therapy is no longer strictly limited to in-person work. Therapy is one of the fastest-growing remote career fields, largely due to the increased demand for mental health resources over the last several years,” says Reynolds. “The variety of therapy training options out there allow for people to change into this field without going through years of additional training.”
If you’re into health and fitness, a great career change to make at 40 is to get certified as a personal trainer. Not only will you learn tons about health and wellness, but you’ll also get to help clients work toward their goals while staying in shape yourself—talk about a win-win! Plus, you can manage your own schedule, which means flexible work hours that you can scale up or down depending on your needs.
Social Media Manager
If you’re social media savvy, consider becoming a social media manager as a second career to start at 40. Not only is there a huge market for social media content on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms, it’s a fun job that’ll let your creativity shine. The average social media manager salary is $55,000 per year according to Glassdoor. Many companies have on-staff social media manager positions available, but you can also work freelance and find your own variety of clients in a specific niche that interests you.
According to Salary.com, hairstylists and hairdressers make about $27,000 a year and the need for hairstylists is expected to increase by about 8% over the next seven years. Generally, hair stylists operate as small business owners and rent out their own booth at an existing shop or salon which makes building up a client base easier. You will need to pass a state license exam and meet all state requirements first, so be sure to look up the guidelines in your state.
“If not now, when? That’s what many women are saying to themselves in the pandemic as they have left the workforce and are reevaluating the ‘why’ behind their work,” says Thompson. “Many women have had business ideas or wanted to start a side hustle, but didn’t have the time or energy resources to do so. It’s never too late to start your business or launch your idea and many women in their 40s and beyond have developed the courage and confidence to embark on this journey.” The benefits? “Speaking for myself and my fellow entrepreneurs, we can set our own hours, pricing and choose who we want to do business with,” she says. “I have yet to miss a family event due to my work—I couldn’t say that when I worked in corporate.”
There are tons of ways you can get a yoga instructor certification, and it doesn’t take more than a few months, which means this is a career change you can make without too much hassle, whether you want to open your own studio or join an existing practice. According to PayScale.com, the average hourly wage for a yoga instructor is $25 per hour, but it ranges from $15 per hour all the way up to $49 per hour. Bonus: Your work environment will be oh-so-serene!
For a career change at 40 that’ll allow you to express your creativity, consider becoming a graphic designer. “If this is an area of expertise and interest for you, it is easy to enter the industry that you can do from your home or from a graphics design company,” says Simon. According to Payscale, the average salary for a graphic designer is $46,000.
Technology and Data Analyst
“There are a number of tech positions that can be entered with some certifications and limited work experience,” says Philip. “If someone is willing to learn a bit of coding or pursue a data analytics certification, technology is a good industry that is always hiring.”
With a median salary of $77,000 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this could be the ideal high-paying career change at 40 for women interested in dental health. You’ll be responsible for teeth cleaning and general dentistry support which, yes, can be a messy job—but the salary and generally stable work hours more than makeup for it. Plus, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 6% growth in dental hygienist jobs over the next decade
Remote Job Recruiter
“A remote recruiting company can provide women with very interesting and lucrative jobs that could be done from their homes with clients coming from across the globe,” says Simon. You’ll need great networking skills and to be a good communicator in order to successfully make this career change at 40.
Party Entertainment Rentals
Krysti Burton (age 45 from Watauga, TX) left her full-time retail job during the pandemic because she didn’t want to put her family at risk of Covid-19 and started Dino-Adventure, a 10-foot long walking dinosaur available to rent for events. She exclusively uses Facebook Marketplace, local Facebook Groups, and her Facebook Page to promote the business. Krysti has already booked over 64 events since starting the business in May and is on track to make $20K+ this year. This job is a great fit for people over 40 because it’s flexible, allowing you to make your own schedule. This flexibility lets me spend more time with my family, whether it’s helping watch my seven grandkids or finding time to visit my youngest son and his fiancée in the army. It’s also an extremely fulfilling job and perfect for anyone who is looking for a meaningful career that brings other people joy. With everything that has happened over the past year and a half with COVID-19, it’s amazing to see that my dinosaur has brought so much laughter and happiness to countless families!
If you’re proficient in another language, working as a translator could be a profitable second career for women over 40. According to Indeed, translators make an average of $45,000 per year, though salaries can be as high as six figures depending on where you work. Plus, translators are needed in tons of different environments—from hospitals to corporate settings and everywhere in between—so there are plenty of job opportunities available.
You might be surprised to learn just how much money you can make as a resume writer! People will pay up to $150 for a resume consultation/rewrite and you can do the job from just about anywhere! So if you have a background in HR or are a former hiring manager, put your former experience to good use when you change careers at 40 and market yourself as a resume writer where you can set your own hours and work with a variety of clients across all industries.
Remote Accounting Positions
“Over 65% of the accountants today are women,” says Simon. “It is a perfect position for a woman who wants to reenter the workforce or switch careers. Accounting Firms are moving to more flexible workforces and positions are also available inside companies.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered dieticians (RDs) make about $30 per hour. In this career option for women over 40, you’ll be required to have an undergraduate degree plus some additional schooling—specifically, you’ll need to sit for the Registration Examination for Dietitians Test by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, also known as the CDR exam.
Telephone Customer Service Representative
If you love talking to people and are great at crisis management, becoming a remote customer service manager is a great career change at 40. According to Salary.com, you can earn anywhere from $27,000-$43,000 a year, with the median salary being roughly $35,000. The best part about this career change is that it’s super easy to get started—all you need are strong communication skills and a phone line!
“Blog, White Paper, and Freelance Writer positions offer interesting positions for people who enjoy doing the research and writing for industries or categories,” says Simon. Look for gigs on Upwork, Fiverr or TaskRabbit to help you get started. You can also contact different companies that run corporate blogs to see if they’re looking for freelancers to outsource work to.
Online Course or eBook Seller
A job as an “online seller, where you take a product, homemade or otherwise, and sell it as a side-hustle until you can gain sufficient momentum to pursue it full time,” is a good career option or women over 40, says Simon. “Some ideas include tutoring lessons [or writing] eBooks” in your area of expertise.