Should You Consider a Mid-Life Career Change?

Senior engineer in design work at architect studio


Many people in the latter stages of middle-age, or those nearing or in their pre-retirement years, are facing a dilemma: Due to a variety of circumstances, ranging from hits taken in their retirement accounts in the aftermath of the financial crisis to long-term unemployment, they are not going to be able to retire when they originally planned to.

Even many of those in this life stage who haven’t been impacted by falling retirement account values or long-term joblessness are unsure whether they have saved enough money to ensure a comfortable retirement. After all, nobody knows how long they’re going to live, which makes it hard to know exactly how much money you’ll need in your retirement account to last the rest of your life.

Finally, there are many middle-agers and pre-retirees who really aren’t in any hurry to retire, regardless of how fat their retirement savings account is. The idea of not going to work every day is even a little bit frightening to them — they like not only the idea of doing a job, but also the social aspects of going to work.

The Big “But…”

For many of these individuals, however, there’s one big “but.” That is, while they either have to or want to continue working into what are traditionally considered the retirement years, they have grown tired of doing essentially the same job, or being in the same career, for most if not all of their lives.

“In this situation it might be worth looking into a mid-life career change,” says Martin Walcoe, EVP of David Lerner Associates. “In fact, more and more people in their late-40s and 50s are learning new skills and acquiring the training and education they need to start new careers at this relatively late stage of their lives.”

Usually, the most seamless mid-life career changes involve choosing a new career that will utilize some of the skills and talents that you have amassed and honed during your first career. This could help minimize the amount of new education and training that are necessary to get you up to speed — and get your foot in the door for new job opportunities.

Or maybe you want to go in a completely different direction with your new mid-life career and fulfill a career dream that you’ve had for many years. If you love the outdoors, for example, maybe you want to become a park ranger or nature tour guide. Or if you have a gift for hospitality, maybe you’d like to open a bed and breakfast inn.
Fulfilling Entrepreneurial Ambitions

A growing number of people in this life stage are choosing to scratch their entrepreneurial itch and start a new business as part of their mid-life career change. According to the Kauffman Foundation, the highest rate of entrepreneurship has now shifted to those in the 55-64 age demographic. Starting a new business at mid-career can be highly risky, but also highly rewarding if the business is successful.

The good news is that when it comes to entrepreneurship, it appears that age and experience tend to pay off. Entrepreneurs who are over age 55 are nearly twice as likely to be successful in launching a new business as those between the ages of 20 and 34, according to the Kauffman Foundation’s research.

Keep in mind, though, that it’s important to count the potential costs of making a mid-life career change before jumping in. There may be significant costs to launching a new business, for example, not to mention the cost of going back to college or technical school to acquire the education and skills needed for your new career.
Do some research into what the earning potential is for your new mid-life career. Then crunch some numbers to make sure that the move makes sense from a financial perspective.

Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered in connection with the purchase or sale of securities. Member FINRA & SIPC

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